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Ghost in the Shell Online has a confusing full title, and potential

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It's true to the anime

While people have been arguing about the Scarlett Johansson casting for the Ghost in the Shell film, I've been busy re-acquainting myself with the series. It...took a while. The original movie? Near perfect.

The fact that a multimedia hydra would spawn out of the original manga and feature film was inevitable, given the sheer number of people who became anime fans after seeing it. If you haven't been following along, there's a lot of other stuff to catch up on. With two more films there's the aforementioned live-action project, as well as a TV and OVA series, and multiple video games.

Now we have the absurdly titled Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online to gawk at.

FAO is an FPS (ha, easy to remember) for PC that draws upon the same themes and world as the anime. If you're familiar with Dungeon Fighter Online, it's from the same people.

Back in December the developers held an early access period, which resulted in some massive changes for the build I encountered last week. In addition to housekeeping stuff like a better user interface and balance changes, there were also a few content upgrades, like the extra character Maven, and five new maps (two of which are prototypes).

So if you saw potential last year, it's gotten a bit better since then. What I really like about the new menus is that the anime permeates through the entire game. Character models are faithfully designed, the color scheme is spot on, and there's little clips of the anime scattered about when selecting certain options. Even the generic footsoldiers look cooler than they do in most shooters.

During my testing, I had access to one mode -- Ghost Assault. It's like a deadly game of tag of sorts with Ghosts (weaker stealth team) and Cyborgs (a strong but visible entity) at each other's throats. The former side has access to better weaponry by way of pickups that can pop up across the map, and the latter can scan dead Ghosts for temporary vision, or grab seeker drones near the end of the match to spice things up and grant added detection.

I like the dynamic, because Ghosts can still fight back with pistols -- which, while on the weak side, can overpower a Cyborg if used in tandem with another teammate. Although the onus is on the Cyborgs to locate the Ghosts before time runs out, lest they lose the match, they are formidable with a faster sprinting mechanic and a deadly melee strike. It's stressful on both sides to say the least, and I've had many close calls cloaking right past a Cyborg player, cheating death.

It's balanced, too. You can see the outline of a Ghost, and sprinting too much temporarily eliminates your camouflage. It really reminds me of the Spies vs Mercs mode from Splinter Cell. Other modes seen in the beta include conquest, team deathmatch, and demolition -- typical FPS fare -- but PVE modes were also teased as a possibility if there's demand. Now onto the caveats. This is Nexon, so the game is free-to-play. How free? Well, there's "5,000 loadouts" so Nexon can sell you point cards.

You'll also have to acquire "licenses" to buy new characters outside of Makoto (who is unlocked from the start), which cost around 9,990 Nexon Points (roughly $10) to purchase. The good news? You can earn licenses in-game (by leveling up), as well as "GP" currency, which allows you to buy gameplay enhancements like weapons and attachments. Nexon Points do not seem to be tied to GP yet, meaning the game isn't pay-to-win. It remains to be seen how much the F2P system creeps in over time, but for now, it seems fine.

It's probably worth checking into Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online if you can't get enough of cyberpunk and cyborgs. There's an open beta starting tomorrow, and you can find more information here.

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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 


 


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