Available :11/08/2004

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Preview © BanDai Games
By: Joshua Smith

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is the companion game to the new Ghost in the Shell anime series by Masamune Shirow. The game, developed by Cavia Inc. and being published by Bandai is set for release November 8th. As a fan of the series I was looking forward to the game, hoping it would be enjoyable, fortunately I wasn't disappointed, for once.

The game, a third person action shooter allows you to play as three different characters from the Ghost in the Shell universe: "Major" Motoko Kusanagi, Batou and the Think-tank Tachikoma. The animation of the characters in the game is fluid and incredibly well done. Motoko flies around the screen gracefully, her movements don't appear stilted and
robotic at all. All of the different actions she can perform, from doing acrobatic leaps through the air, to grabbing onto a ledge and flipping up onto the top of it, are executed without any awkwardness in the animation. As well as the nice in game animations the twenty plus minutes of awesome 3D CGI help flesh out and tell the story in the game.

Along with 12 levels in the single player campaign, you get the added bonus of a 2-4 player multiplayer mode that gives you the ability to fight in a death match style game called Battle Royale, as well as a Team combat mode. Although not an incredibly in-depth multiplayer mode it's a nice bonus to the single player game.

With a total of fifteen weapons to choose from, with everything from a sniper rifle to a rocket launcher as well as a fairly cool melee combat system there are plenty of ways to decimate your enemies. The melee combat consists of pressing the L2 button repeatedly, but depending on how you come at an enemy your attack will appear different. When the
killing blow of a melee attack is struck on an enemy the game makes use of a neat to watch, yet totally useless, slow motion mode. In a blurry close-up shot you get to see the "Major" end the life of yet another unlucky henchman by kicking him in the head and sending him sprawling to the ground. It sounds like that might get boring, I know. It doesn't.

Along with the assortment of machine guns and sniper rifles at your disposal, you can carry a secondary set of weapons where you can make use of items such as grenades and throwing knives, which you can use to quietly dispatch an enemy... the throwing knives, not the grenades, the grenades explode, they don't make quiet explosions, not even in the future.

Along with all of the death based items you also possess the ability to hack into machinery you find in the environment, computer terminals and the minds of cybernetic enemies. Still not incredibly complicated but cool enough to add to the game instead of take away from it.

At this point the game seems to be shaping up fairly well. Once released I think it'll have enough to offer both to people who enjoy GITS as well as people who just enjoy a good action shooter with a well done plot.