Disclosure ‐ We were provided with a review copy of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online by Nexon at our request. The copy we reviewed was in Steam Early Access, it is likely that it will change prior to it's full release.
FAST GAMEPLAY, SLOW MATCHMAKING
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – First Assault Online (hereafter referred to as First Assault Online) is a multiplayer FPS from Neople, set in the same universe as the Anime of the same name, Ghost in the Shell. Players get to enter a multiplayer only version of the faithfully recreated world. So, let’s see how well this early access title stacks up against the giants of the FPS world, TF2 and CS:GO.
The game is a pretty standard FPS à la CS/TF2/CoD with not much new to add to the FPS formula. Currently, there are only three game types and only a small selection of maps. As with most FPS’s these days, there is a wide variety of unlocks and with many different ways to customise your character and weapons. All these unlocks require that you either buy them using GP, or you earn them by gaining experience points. Currently, GP can only be earned by playing the game.
Now, I mentioned the game having three different game modes. Well, there’s regular old Team Death Match, straight up Bomb Defusal from CS (Demolition) and a capture point style mode (Terminal Conquest).
Team Death Match is fun and what you’ll be playing most of the time with very fast respawns and the game ending when the time is up or the score limit is reached.
Demolition is exactly the same CS Bomb Defusal; No respawns and two points to plant a bomb: one team defends and the other attacks. The team that wins the most rounds is the overall winner.
Terminal Conquest is just basically capture points, with both teams trying to capture and hold a few terminals for points to let loose a big robot and whoever has the most wins.
This is the mode I played the least by far.
Currently, there are seven classes or “operatives” you can choose from and each has a unique powerup. These then have cooldowns which are recharged by scoring points. Having this range of options is great… if you get to play them all. As it is, you play one hero during the tutorial and then you have to choose which operative you want to unlock for normal games. So, you either have to pick the operative from the tutorial, or just guess which one you’ll like.
The manner by which you unlock other operatives is also a very lengthy process. Initially you can get up to three free operatives. The first is when you start, the next at level three, and another at level five. After these you need to buy an item to unlock them that costs 249,750GP. Everything costs GP. Want to buy a piece of equipment, a gun or a grenade? Too bad, as you need to save up about 999,000GP if you want the option to play as every character.
The biggest problem I experienced is that it is hard to find a match, and when you do it’s very rarely a full team on each side (or even the same number of players on each side.) Now this problem is made worse by scarcely populated Australian servers. I went onto the US servers and the EU servers and got into matches with about 8 people on each team almost instantly, so if you can play through the lag, then play on one of those servers.
What I really think the developers need to implement to help reduce this problem is an autobalance feature. I also think that players should be allowed to change operatives in game, as this would make games much more dynamic. They also need to remove or significantly lower the absurd amount of GP that operatives cost.