AM2 tackles the Wii in this arcade port.
SEGA has made a good few arcade shooting classic titles in their time: Virtua Cop and House of the Dead have both had massive success both in the arcade and on home consoles. The success of these games may go some way to explaining why they haven't tried to do anything new with their latest rail based shooter, Ghost Squad.
One of the charms of these games is usually (apart from the extra cost) the light gun peripheral that allows you to live out your wildest John Woo bullet ballet fantasies, rolling around your living room floor and hiding behind your coffee table before jumping out to scream "Do you feel lucky, punk?!" and blasting away. The great news is that with a Wii remote in each hand, it won't cost you anything other than the budget price of the game.
Ghost Squad probably has some kind of story, I think it involves terrorists and annoying hostages that keep getting me into trouble for shooting them in the face. I always thought the best way to deal with terrorists was to remove their bargaining leverage, but my commander disagreed with me. Anyway, Ghost Squad sees your blonde haired hero shoot Asian, black and some white (I think they're there to prevent claims of racism, but these guys always wear balaclavas) terrorists. Oh yeah, there's a Hispanic boss fight too. And NO GIRLS ALLOWED!!!
All well and good, so far then. Terrible voice acting opens up each scene through and you'll constantly be getting messages from the rest of your crew with dialogue so poor you'll believe you are in an early John Woo film overdubbed by the cast of Sunset Beach. The graphics do a fair job in showing off a traditional arcade style, but they are far from impressive. Even the Wii hardware could be pushed much further than this. Still, it is style that anyone who's played the Virtua Cops will be familiar with, and enemies are instantly recognisable no matter how quickly they pounce onto the screen with guns or knives at the ready.
As an on-rail shooter, you don't have much to worry about in Ghost Squad, save how many bad guys foreheads you can put a hole in before having to reload. Your path through the decently sized 3 levels of the game with split, offering you choices. Do you jump into the house to save the hostages or snipe the bad guys through skylights from the roof? These choices don't make any difference to the outcome of the game, however with only 3 levels to play through they do add some variety to the affair. To get your money's worth from this title you'll need to play through each level numerous times.
One thing lacking in the gameplay is any kind of change of pace or strategy throughout the game. Virtua cop was quite innovative in the use of its cover & reload mechanic, however even that is thrown away here and we reload with the light gun standard of aiming off the screen. The only change to the constant shooting in Ghost Squad is "tactical" elements such as knife fights, hand to hand combat or removing mines from a forest whilst making a quick escape. These are all done with the action button, A on the Wii mote in this case. Unfortunately the tactical element here is minimal, and it plays out like the rest of the game - aim at the object you have to, and press A repeatedly instead of pulling your trigger. Thanks for mixing it up Sega.
The game saves your progress and you will unlock new character outfits and weapons as you get better playing through it. The last boss fight is particularly impressive. I won't go into details when the game is short enough, but it certainly knows how to get the adrenaline rushing as you shoot through wave after wave of people whose political beliefs differ from what ever government or secret service agency it is you serve.
Ghost Squad has a 16 rating in the UK, and I can only assume this is because you are shooting people and not aliens, zombies or robots. The violence in the game comes across as cartoonish, and there is no blood or bullet wounds to be seen anywhere. Quite why the game is rated as a 16 I'll leave to the censors, but to me Ghost Squad has much more in common with The A-Team than even 12 rated movies such as Terminator 3.
Where Ghost Squad does shine, as with most Wii games, is in multiplayer. Playing with 4 of your buddies in party mode is a riot and beating your friends to the draw is sure to rouse rabble, resulting in the "accidental" smashing of your Wii mote against your 5 year old nephews face whilst trying to shoot the next terrorist.
All in all, Ghost Squad does nothing new for an old genre, however it does do it does do it very competently and it makes the Wii mote seem like the perfect peripheral for it. Bonus points can be gained by not using the on screen crosshair. Aiming can be tricky initially but once you're used to the sensitivity firing from the hip comes as second nature. Ghost Squad is the perfect game for those that miss "Ye Olde Arcade" experience and forgot that House of the Dead 2 &3 is sitting right next to it at the Wii section of your local store.