DEVELOPER: Sega Amusements Japan
PUBLISHER: Sega Amusements
RELEASE: October 2011 in US and Europe. April 2011 in Japan, China/Taiwan
TYPE: Light-gun shooter
PLAYERS: 1-2, simultaneous
HARDWARE: Sega RingWide
ARCADE EXCLUSIVE?: Yes
SYNOPSIS: Operation G.H.O.S.T. is the sequel to Sega’s G.H.O.S.T. Squad which was released in arcades in 2004. The official description fills us in on the story behind the sequel:
Sega’s realistic tactical light gun shooter is back and this time it is set in the future! It’s 2035 and the war against terrorism continues. The terrorist network known as Blue Wolf is on the rise and they have seized Uranium in an attempt to build their own nuclear weapons. Liberalists form a task force to exterminate the Blue Wolf, reclaim the uranium and stop a nuclear disaster! That task force is called G.H.O.S.T. (Global Humanitarian Operations & Special Tactics)
Operation Ghost puts players in the shoes of highly trained special force agents. They must use precision shooting and quick reactions to complete the mission whilst using some of the brand new tools at their disposal! As well as new weapons, gadgets and equipment, Operation Ghost features a multi-coloured LED monitor surround. This feature enables extended off-screen targeting, enemy approach direction indication and provides a game play experience that has never been seen before.
REVIEW: By Adam “Arcadehero” Pratt
Terrorism is in the news a lot in modern times and with that, so are video games tackling the problem. Back in 2004 Sega released a shooter called GHOST Squad where you take out terrorist scum and the latest sequel to that is doing the same but in The Future™. The reasons why are fairly standard – bad guys want nuclear weapons to blow up some cities, you need to use Lead Diplomacy to stop them from getting that far.
What Operation GHOST does to spice things up with the game is first noticed with the hardware. The cabinet has an unusual look to it as it uses a cool reflected LED sensor net around the monitor that highlights the game during the attract mode and is function during the game as a radar and targeting assistance device. There isn’t anything quite like it that I’ve seen and it’s a nice touch although there were a couple of times during the game that I forgot about it although I think that had to do more with the brightness of the venue than anything as I played this on a brightly lit trade show floor. In a darker room there would be no problem at seeing the LED stripes in your peripheral vision.
Next up are the guns, which use thick molded plastic to recreate a shell for a gun you might expect special forces to carry (I am not sure what the name of the gun model it is that these are based off of but I have seen ones like them before). It takes two hands to properly hold them and they are slightly heavy as there is a scope on top that actually is a speaker that is used for particular parts in the game. Gunshots and some dialoge are heard through this clearly, although I did miss a few things when I played it at a noisy trade show. In a typical arcade environment (which lacks the trade show “rumble”) hearing anything from the gun speaker would not be a problem. The guns also have spring-backed supports in the butt of the gun and a switch on the side that allows you to switch between full auto, 3 shot burst and semi-auto fire at any time, a nice touch. The on-screen reticule also changes depending upon your firing mode. The handle at the front of the gun also has a button on it for Action sequences that pop-up every now and then in the game known as RTOs or Real-Time Tactical orders. Interestingly enough, avoiding an RTO in a particular situation can lead to a higher score so you have to make a quick judgement (or play the game through several times) to figure out what works best. Shoot off screen to reload or it will reload when you fully empty a clip.
The game itself is a cinematic on-rails shooter, similar to GHOST Squad with some changes as one expects. Similar to the original, it has short, skippable cutscenes that setup the situation to give the game a little drama and then its straight into the action. Some chatter between the squad members is given through each mission and you have occasional sequences that change up the action briefly, like the sniper rifle part. Because its the future you have equipment which identifies friend and foe where they will be outlined in a particular color depending upon their threat level. Enemies that are an immediate threat are highlighted in red and a number appears above their head with a circular clock to indicate when they will hit you (similar to what Sega’s Rambo did). On occasion a virtual radar gadget will detect where others are hiding. Like the original, the camera moves around in conjunction with how your soldier is positioned so there is a dynamic feel to what is going on (i.e. it’s not just walk->shoot guns that run onto the scene ->walk again, rinse repeat). A message appears on the screen for when you need to use your action button for things like throwing grenades, scanning a dark room, or timing a dodge just right when a boss rushes at you. Items like life replenishment, full auto ammo increase and special items appear on occasion, just shot to claim it. Like other Sega light-gun games as well as the original there are certain times where you can select a between two paths of differing difficulties, so that gives you some extra replay value. What I like about the game overall is that when the mission starts, the action is fast and relentless, keeping you engaged in what’s going on. It might not have given us an astoundingly original experience although its not exactly like any other shooter on the market at the moment. The LED net around the screen does give it a cool feeling as I always like it when arcades use their hardware advantage.
Boss fights are varied as one would expect – you have to figure out a specific pattern to their madness and sometimes you are presented with a timed opportunity to cancel out a strong attack they like to launch. The first boss is a knife-wielding opponent that you have to react quickly to to cancel out his attacks as one example. Bosses also have weak points you can hit to bring their lifebars down in a jiffy.
Once you finish a level it will show you which achievements you have earned and rate players on a few different statistics: Critical Hits, Critical Combos, Accuracy and Rapidity (which I guess is response time?). This is the first Sega arcade game I know to use achievements, more and more arcades are doing so these days to keep up with the times.
There are currently two cabinet types in production out there (except for variations on the control panel as the Asian version holds the guns differently): a 42″ LCD HD screen and a deluxe 55″ deluxe. Only differences happen to be in the size.
The frame rate is nice and smooth throughout but the screen and texture resolution are noticeably low in the game, geometric detail isn’t terribly high either. For an arcade title coming out at the end of 2011 the game should look better than this. The special effects in the game like smoke are nice at least and I would say it edges out a Wii game but it should be edging out the best looking PS3 games at this point. I give it props for the LED Surround which is part of the visual presentation and looks very cool. But if this is the best that RingWide can do, I think it would already be time to move on.
The sound channeled through the standard cabinet speakers as well as the gun is clear and concise with plenty of voice overs. Memorable “Engrish” theme song although any music in-game doesn’t stand out. The speaker-in-the-gun idea worked out better here than with Primeval Hunt as it didn’t add a bunch of weight to the gun.
Big guns often grab more attention from players than pistols do in the arcade. The style and details put into the gun are a highlight for the game, including the gun speaker and the fire rate switch (a switch that is found in the molding of many other gun games but is rarely an actual switch).
Sega took a different route from games like Rambo with Operation GHOST and the highlight is certainly the LED Surround feature. It’s the kind of thing you can do with an arcade cabinet that just can’t be done at home. It draws attention to the game and the design won’t be mistaken for anything else.
If you want solid action with enough variations to keep you coming back, Operation GHOST doesn’t disappoint. The achievements, RTOs and other statistics that contribute to the score add replay value to the game and it’s good enough for GHOST Squad Guy to cosplay on. I’m not 100% sure if it can be mastered like other light-gun shooters so that it can be beat on one credit.
Fans of military shooters or the original game won’t be disappointed with this one. It sticks to a familiar formula that worked with the first game and its fun. There’s nothing about the story that will blow anyone away but arcades never really need a lot of that anyways.
Direct screenshots from the beta version (click for full view)
Here are some pictures of Operation GHOST’s first appearance in the US at the AAMA 2011 Gala held in August 2011.