The Ill Communication

The not so stellar first-person shooter tied to the Ghost in the Shell franchise wasn't what you would wanted from a highly acclaimed series that crosses through all forms of media with decades worth of history.  The 2005 game for the PSP just didn't work well.  Sure it was a technical achievement, showing off what a portable console could do, but in the end the control scheme got in the way, hindering the fun you get with an FPS by having to constantly tap the face buttons (circle, square, triangle, or cross) just to line up a shot that could have been easily done with a mouse.

Someone saw this and attempted to accomplish what the PSP game failed to do by making an FPS for the PC that appears to be in the same spirit as GitS.  Released in 2009, NEOTOKYO from developer Studio Radi-8, you get a cyberpunk themed FPS where levels have you running around environments like a high-rise office building, a futuristic industrial facility, and a as a contrast, a map with a more analog atmosphere by running around a traditional Shofuso Japanese house and garden.  In it you get a class based shooter where two teams clash together with modes like team deathmatch and capture the flag.  You can either pick the side of the government with the NSF or the terrorist ground known as JINRAI.

Years later would come the proper FPS with the GitS license for the PC.  From Korean publisher Nexon is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online.  In fact, as of this writing, it's still in beta.  It's available as a free download on Steam and has constant activities with updates to modes, adding in new features, and other tidbits to improve the overall experience.  Currently it's in an open beta.

Probably the most impressive aspect of First Assault is its visuals and flashy presentation.  Everything looks clean with a high level of polish.  The tutorial and opening cutscene set you up for what this game is all about and introduces you to some of the primary characters of Section 9 like Kusanagi and Batou.  And just like in the series, you'll have think tanks along with cyborgs and humans to battle.

At the start of the game you will need to pick from one of the nine characters from Section 9 -- or what they call operatives -- that are available to play.  All members of S9 are here in the game in addition to two new faces to round out the list.  One is named Maven, who's the other female in the group using a special cloaking wall for cover, while the other new operative, Kuro, can use an EMP shockwave.  Each operative has a unique skill to help with the job.  Kusanagi has the ability to use optic camouflage, Batou's arm turns into a rocket launcher, Sito has a heat sensor to see enemies behind walls, and Togusa can summon drones.  A cool feature called SkillSync is the ability to share your special skill with other members in your team.

You have the ability to upgrade your skills for physical attributes like speed for the physical sockets, improve your special skill with ability sockets, and a few other specialties with the cyberbrain sockets.  New weapons can be purchased and customized with skins and paint to your hearts content.  Weapons could be upgraded as well for clip increase and different kinds of laser sights.  Most of the custom options are cosmetic changes, but at least it allows for a bit of personalization.

With it being a free to play game, First Assault has all a solid foundation that you would want for a free FPS game, but it lacks what other series like Call of Duty have done for the genre's online play.  This game would benefit from having a small single player mode or possibly a player vs environment mode where a team can battle through a few think tanks or just something with a bit of a narrative.  Not a full blown campaign mode, but something else to give the game a bit of variety.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online

Developer: Neople
Publisher: Nexon
US Release: 2016 (beta)

Posted on: March 30, 2017