I’m a HUGE fan of Ghost in the Shell, whether it’s the Anime or the Manga. So when I heard GitS was going to be released for the PSP I was pretty excited. I had put off buying the game for one reason or another until last night. I was in the local GameStop and saw it sitting on the shelf, on sale too, so I had to buy it. I waited long enough and boy was it a mistake waiting that long.Thankfully the game itself isn’t a port of the PS2 version. The story, mechanics and details are for the most part, a unique experience. Set in the year 2030, GitS provides a unique story away from the series. There’s no laughing man, but there is definitely a wider conspiracy to follow through. The story spans 20 years and revolves around documents which detail an uprising in the Far North long ago. The action begins when a terrorist group decides to steal the historic documents.

The gameplay takes a little getting used to, but once you do it’s no problem. There is an auto lock in the targeting system, but it’s not just *click and instant lock*. It gives it a form of time based, realistic adjustment that locks on to enemies, but takes time for one of the 4 playable characters. Once you target an enemy, you basically push a button (down on D-pad) and it adjusts to the enemy, running and the enemy moving do affect the aim of your character, so it’s not always dead on. Movement itself is actually very easy, and as well, you have to ability to push in any direction twice and quick sidestep or hop forward.

Most, if not all of the levels have interactive environments, but in the limited sense of opening doors and placing bombs. You can actually hack the top of mechanized tanks by jumping on top and disabling them, while they are moving. Cut scenes are all made with the games engine, and the characters are faithfully re-produced to 3D for the game. One thing that is noticeable is that the voices don’t sync up with lip movements. This may be due to the fact that the game was animated for Japanese voice actors.

The playable characters include Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa and Saito. To be honest I was a little surprised to see Saito in the lineup, and a bit disappointed not to see the other members of Section 9 not included.

Tachikoma’s are also part of the gameplay. There are 4 different Tachikomas (Balanced, Aggressive, Intelligent, Humorous), but you can only use one at a time. Each can be colored and configured independently so when the next mission comes up, you can select between 4 customized mini-tanks, with different voices and different personality traits, including Loyalty stats.

All characters, including the Tachikomas, have individual stats and abilities. Tachikomas have the same stats, and have even more in-depth numbers focusing on movement speed and things of that nature, as well as Changing to the color of the tank.

The graphics in GitS:SAC rarely disappoint. However, some of the car models and characters look quite bad due to crappy textures, making certain parts of the game look neglected. The rest of the game is very crisp.

All voices are done in English, using the same voice actors that are in the series which was an added bonus for me. All the dialog come with subtitles, but there is no option for Japanese dialog. It’s comical to have your Tachikoma note that an enemy has been spotted and then say “Booyah!” as she mows them down.

With an exciting gameplay and the look of the GitS series, this is definitely a game to pick up.