Ghost Squad Review

Posted by Guest, Feb 08, 2008 11:45

How old is something before it becomes retro?

I’ve got no answer to that question myself, and even though Ghost Squad certainly isn’t an old game, there’s a distinctly “old skool”, kitsch feel to it that all great retro titles are celebrated for. Sega originally released this game using the Chihiro arcade hardware which was based on the Xbox, so it’s certainly not an archaic piece of software – therefore it must simply be that delicious sensation that comes from games born into transitional periods of technology. The gaming world was going 3D, and Ghost Squad can hold its head up high and say “I was there first”.

Coming from Sega’s AM2 department, who pioneered the whole concept of 3d, “on rails” first person arcade shooter with Virtua Cop, Ghost Squad features a wonderfully brash action theme of a Special Forces rescue squadron of ultra hard bastards. I mean, these guys take rocket propelled grenades to the chest and still come back for more – that’s how macho our Ghost Squad lads are.

If this balls out hyper-action premise is appealing to you (and you’re looking forward to the new Rambo movie), then to be honest, you’re already sold on Ghost Squad’s hard, fast, sheer entertainment value. But it’s still worth examining quite how well the game handles on Nintendo’s new format.

Naturally, the Wii is perfect for light gun games (surprising there aren’t more, really) and this latest reimagining of Sega’s old franchise has been tweaked to suit the remote beautifully. And, of course, it arrives just in time for the slew of gun adaptors for the Wii-motes which, although certainly not vital, do add a significant element to the blazing guns action.

Superficially, Ghost Squad isn’t a long or in-depth game. The “on rails” movement leaves gamers to simply riddle everything and everyone with infra-red bullets, but the replay value of such an apparently limited game is surprisingly high. Sega built a huge number of difficulty levels and branching routes throughout the three short levels, which makes a return to the action highly appealing.

Veering off to save the hostages, or entering a smoke filled room wearing infra-red goggles to disarm a bomb are the kind of choice that regularly present themselves to the gamer, so having to return to the beginning of the game after only 15 minutes of play isn’t the problem you might initially think it is. There’s enough different routes to ensure you quickly lose track of which way you went last time, and the action varies quite considerably for each alternative course.

The other aspect that infuses Ghost Squad with retro finesses is the superbly bad voice action and intermediary 3D animation that games of this era all sported. Although it might sound like a criticism, the bad voice acting and mega-cheesy dialog is incredibly endearing and it’s great to see it being lavished upon with the current generation of games systems. It would have been easy for Sega to update Ghost Squad and, in doing so, lose much of its nostalgic appeal. But everything’s intact, and takes you right back to the sea front arcade where the original machine ate more than its share of your pound coins.

Also in keeping with the Wii’s inherent controller mechanics, Ghost Squad has been tweaked to allow up to four simultaneous players. While this is fairly gimmicky and unproductive in practice, it’s also immense fun watching four, macho wannabe soldiers vying for shoulder space around one television and, once again, goes a long way toward recreating that fantastic arcade experience that made the old coin-op into such a classic.

Unfortunately, the “retro revival” feeling brings with it a general opinion that full-price is too much. Most retro gamers expect a reduction for having owned and played a game before on a previous system (which, in this writer’s opinion, is quite justified), so the standard game price tag feels rather heavy hanging around the neck of what’s essentially an Xbox classic.

There’s a lot to love here, and Ghost Squad is packed to the rocket launcher with the kind of hard, fast, shameless entertainment that the Wii excels at. It’s a game that will appeal to most every demographic due to its inherent pick-up-and-play nature, and if only its price tag was equally accessible, it would have been impossible to say anything negative about Ghost Squad. As it is, fans of the genre, jaded retro gamers and those Wii owners looking for an alternative to Mario will find Ghost Squad to be a brilliant and lasting prize.

For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings

Our Rating for Ghost Squad Review
8.0 Replay
An apparently limited game that deepens with every replay. Keep going back – you won’t be disappointed.
7.4 Graphics
While they’re clunky and stilted, the retro styling’s are highly appealing. Something of a dichotomy, but a pleasurable one nonetheless.
7.5 Sound
You’ve got to love that awful voice acting and terminally macho dialog!
7.8 Gameplay
Hard, fast and casual to the extreme – ideally suited to the Wii and accessible to most every kind of gamer.
6.9 Multiplayer/Online Content
An A for effort when it comes to expanding the game to four simultaneous players, even if it doesn’t work that well in practice.
7.3 Overall
Ghost Squad loses a point and a half for the high price tag, but as the cost comes down this will undoubtedly become a must-have Wii title. If you can’t wait until it hits the bargain bins, I certainly don’t blame you.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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