The gameplay is simple – each player, of which there can be up to four (though the ideal number is two), grabs a controller and goes for it. Your trigger finger shoots, the A button performs scripted actions such as defusing bombs and shaking the controller reloads your gun.
You can also use the D-Pad to change your firing mode but, to be honest, once you’ve found which mode you prefer then you’ll probably not have to change it. Personally, I found the default three-round burst was the most efficient, especially on the lower levels.
There are only three levels in Ghost Squad
– a tropical villa, Air Force One and a jungle encampment. In each level some baddies have taken some hostages and it’s up to you as members of the Ghost Squad to try and rescue them. The game tries to layer some plot and exposition over the top of this basic premise through cutscenes and narration from the squad commander, but it’s all pretty superfluous.
There are bad guys. You have a gun. That is all you need to know.
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That’s not to say that you should skip the cutscenes though, far from it. The scripted sequences are definitely worth watching for the sheer comedy value of the awfully stilted voice acting and laughable twists. If you skipped the exposition then you’d miss out on classic pieces of storytelling – like, when Air Force One is commandeered by terrorists for example and the commander informs you that the squad has been planted on board secretly, “just in case”.
Of course, the lack of levels does mean that the game is essentially very short and there’s no way around that. The first time I played the game I say down for a quick half-hour fiddle so that I could learn the basics. Before that time was up I had finished the game.
Fortunately, Sega then builds on these three levels and introduces light RPG elements to keep the game interesting and entertaining. At the end of each level your score is translated into experience and, as your player levels up, extra features are unlocked. New paths through the levels will reveal themselves over time, new weapons become accessible and new costumes and modes that range from the cool (Ninja Mode) through to the bizarre (Panda Costumes).
Difficulty levels also become available to players as they plow through the games levels and, while most players will probably find Difficulty Level three or four to be as taxing as they want a casual game to be, the challenge ramps up all the way through to Level 48 the prospect of which chills us to the bone.
Topping it all off are the multiplayer modes which let up to four players go head to head and experiment with tactics and routes through the levels.
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What really makes Ghost Squad
such a fun game though is that it never seems content to just go along with the norm as so many arcade ports have done before. It doesn’t just idly shove in a few extra guns; it goes the whole hog and adds in dozens of them! Even in the standard no-extras game Ghost Squad
doesn’t want to just be a basic point-and-shoot game and has to add in activities like melee combat, single-shot boss fights and bomb defusing to help keep things feeling interesting.
Of course, there are problems with Ghost Squad
. The graphics are pretty basic and dull, the levels are too short and similar and after a while the game does begin to feel like it is relying on the extra unlockables a bit too much.
is a fantastic game to play for an hour or two and if you’ve got some friends who fancy some Wii multiplayer but who don’t want to pull out Warioware
again then Ghost Squad
fits the bill nicely. But it isn’t a great game technically and that much is obvious from the get-go. There are just a few too many holes in the deliriously eccentric veneer.
The whole game is, though I’m loath to say it, very similar to watching a B-movie like those made by Uwe Boll. It’s a pretty awful experience, bereft of the things gamers look for nowadays like coherent story, believable characters and on-going appeal – but at the same time, you love it. Providing you’re happy to stomach the relatively high asking price (in the UK at least), the game can be endlessly entertaining and perfect for filling short periods of idleness in the right circumstances. You don’t have to spend week upon week appreciating it and, as long as you go in with your eyes open, you may find yourself actually enjoying it despite the flaws.
And in that final aspect, I suppose it isn’t like a Uwe Boll movie at all.