May 10, 2007 - Since the first rumblings of Ghost Squad's Wii release, the IGN Wii team has been pretty optimistic for the shooter's reincarnation on Nintendo's newest system. True; Wii doesn't do exact light gun conversion (at least not yet), but at least the IR adaptation has made it possible for games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, as well as Duck Hunt clones in Wii Play and the possibility of House of the Dead or Virtua Cop's revival down the road - should SEGA will it. As the first light gun outing for the Japan-based company, SEGA is pushing the spiritual successor of both Virtua Cop and Confidential Mission (another arcade game that had a brief stint on Dreamcast), as Ghost Squad is now heading to Wii.
Ghost Squad is, in nearly every respect, the next Virtua Cop incarnation. The title has changed, and the game is now more robust, but everything from disarming shots to headshots and a precision score multiplier system is all in tact. In addition, Ghost Squad blends the familiar light gun game with borrowed techniques from Confidential Mission, adding in more context-sensitive challenges that take place in tandem with shooting bouts. Everything from hand-to-hand reflex challenges to wire-cutting and sniping is included in the game, as SEGA gun patrons will feel right at home within the non-shooting shooter elements. There's team members to assist you (and get in the way), hostages to rescue (and shoot at; we all do it), and of course a ton of bad guys doing overly-elaborate slide, break, and jump-in entrances right in front of you when a simple bullet to the head from 100 yards away would more than suffice. In short, Ghost Squad is the next balls-to-the-wall light gun game. Happy it's on Wii yet?
The version we saw today was basically a crossover from the Japanese SKU SEGA is currently working on. The game's main interface was a mix of English and Japanese text, as American teams are surely working on localizing the game and implementing the final US changes. As far as the core emulation of the title, the game looks, acts, and seems to play exactly like the arcade version, though we did notice it drops just a bit visually from what we've played in arcades since the game's 2004 release. Granted the game isn't about visuals, but when we put it at just about the same (if not a bit lower than Dreamcast) it's obvious that the game doesn't look quite as amazing as we remember it in arcades. Maybe that's because our pockets weren't jingling with quarters, and we had a bottle of OJ in our hands instead of a two liter jug of Shasta (and our all-Rush mix tape), but the visuals were a bit on the lower side, though the game did include 16:9.
Still, shrug off this game because of its visuals and you are truly a fool among men, as Ghost Squad has a ton to offer simple-seeking Wii shooter fans. The game's core revolves around semi-linear levels, with three missions in total. Before setting out, both players (yes, two player co-op) can change the character's payload, as character class, experience, level, and scores are all kept between playthroughs. As you progress your class levels up, giving you access to over 25 weapons including shotguns, SMG's, rifles, and - if you're a badass - pistols. In the mode we saw today both slackers were still at Private level, so they ran with basic 16 shot automatics - pathetic. We'll take a Deagle with a high-cap any day, but for starters I guess the machine guns are needed... weak.
It's not just about shooting. It's also about blowing crap up.
As for depth, Ghost Squad does offer a decent amount of play for people that take the plunge and purchase the game. Four player mode? Yes, but SEGA wouldn't go into details. It wasn't in the original arcade mode though, so tighten up your bonnet Sally May, we've got new content for Wii. In addition to multiplayer is the main mission modes, with three in all and 16 different "iterations" of each. This means different enemy placement, different enemy units, and a variety of challenges.
Also included is the ability to take different routes throughout each mission, so while storming the front door may seem like a quite heroic move, you may be better off climbing to the roof, sniping a few guys, and then dropping in. Controls are about as basic as they can be, with shooting handled on the trigger and reload taking place when the cursor is aimed off-screen. For cocky punks like ourselves, you can even turn off the cursor on the fly, and try to aim traditionally (though from the looks of it the game is still just cursor-based, so good luck hitting anything unless you've learned the ways of the force). Multiple paths, three huge missions, 16 iterations for each, dozens of levels, a persistent stats management system, and four player multiplayer - not a bad starting shooter on Wii, methinks.
We'll have more for you on Ghost Squad as info becomes available. Expect hands-on impressions within the coming months, as well as some fresh media as SEGA deems it so. Ghost Squad is being given a tentative "holiday" release date, though we wouldn't be surprised if it hits a bit sooner as well.
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