|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Am2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 20, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Branden Barrett
Ah, the light gun genre, how have you been? Some would say that rail shooters should be exclusive to arcades, while others would say that these types of games are too shallow to even exist. No matter the opinion, no one can honestly admit that they have never thrown a quarter or two into a Time Crisis, Area 51, or Operation Wolf arcade machine.
The mindless gunplay, fast-paced action, and charmingly repetitive sound effects definitely bring back some memories, some good and some bad. Ghost Squad, an under the radar game in its own right, is right there in between the two. With a lot of light gun titles recently making their way to the next generation, the people over at Sega decided to throw another into the mix, and what better system to release it for but the Nintendo Wii. With the systems' recent release of its "Zapper," an add on that is supposed to make shooting games more realistic, Ghost Squad was to be the first test subject, but does it succeed?
Now, this game's back story may have a few people crying "cliché," but hey, who plays a lightning fast light gun game for its plot? Basically, you control an elite group of SWAT members by the name of GHOST. Their mission is to quell the acts of a terrorist group called the Indigo Wolves, who are doing all kinds of terrible things. This opens the curtain for a classic good vs. evil showdown, with the primary objective being: take down every bad guy in sight. You'll do this while traversing through an enemy hideout, aboard an Air Force One plane, and finally through a jungle fortress. And no, the three I mentioned aren't just a handful of examples; those are all the levels in the game. Just like with Star Fox 64, the adventure is over in less than an hour, but the highlight that keeps pulling you back in is the open-endedness of the gameplay.
Though you may not be able to control your character outside of reloading and shooting, the "choice" centered gameplay revolves around taking multiple paths that will decide the fate of the adventure. For example, in the first stage, you will have the option of either clearing the whole first floor or taking out a bomb that is a floor above you. The game will continue regardless of your selection, but it will certainly make each level seem less tedious as you replay them over and over. What also helps relieve a little bit of tedium is the fact that each of the three stages sports sixteen different degrees of difficulty. Depending on which you pick will cause opponents, obstacles, and events to happen in a different order than the previous selection. This will constantly keep you on your toes and even though the mission selection is short and limited, the multiple ways to play each of these missions keeps things continuously fresh.
What also adds a fresh element to this light gun game is the introduction of the Wii-mote. Though it may not feel as precise or orthodox as a regular controller, the Wii-mote certainly makes the moment a lot more fun. The controls definitely make use of the Wii's point and release motion sensing, with gunplay and option selection relying on where you point the cursor. Even though shifting from side to side is quick and responsive, there are times where too much tilt can result in awkward viewing angles and an increase in inaccuracy. The on-screen cursor can also be disabled, increasing the difficulty even further, but some may find the lack of it too frustrating. All in all, it isn't up to arcade standards and it may take some time to get used to, but the Wii-mote does enough to warrant a solid playing session. Now whether the Zapper helps improve the experience or not is another story, as I wasn't able to get my hands on one in time.
Once you get used to the stylized controls, the next step is to just jump into the fray. Enemies and obstacles emerge at every turn, and it will take quick reflexes and thinking to emerge victorious. Points are scored by how quickly you eliminate a threat and the manner in which you disperse it. As with any other light gun game, your movement is generally controlled for you. Quick moving camera angles and zoom shots happen frequently, with the reminder to "Reload" emerging every few seconds or so depending on the weapon you hold. Speaking of which, Sega definitely aimed to differentiate the Wii version from its arcade counterpart by adding new weapons and modes. From the submachine gun to the ever-potent sniper rifle, each gun serves its purpose, even though the gameplay moves so quickly you may not get to enjoy each of them as much as you'd like.