SEGA, one of the masters of arcade shooters, are the first to bring one of their heavyweight light gun titles to the Wii, courtesy of the Wii Zapper- a gun shaped plastic housing for your Wiimote and Nunchuck. The Wii Zapper isn't required, it simply adds a little arcade “realism”.
The story is pretty simple: You're a member of Ghost Squad, the elite Special Forces unit established in strict secrecy by the U.N. to combat terrorism and carry out special highly-classified missions without leaving a trace.
The game takes place across three missions, the first sees you infiltrating a government-restricted villa in the hills, the second saving the president aboard Air Force One, and the final mission has you rescuing a top government official from the terrorists jungle camp.
Each mission is split into three areas, with the third area ending with a boss fight. The missions are only semi-linear and contain different routes, which are selected on screen at certain crossroads. This means each mission can vary quite a bit- however, a number of routes have to be “unlocked” by completing the game first.
Generally the game is played with one main weapon, the XM-2119 automatic rifle. When using automatic weapons you get to choose between manual fire, 3 shot burst, and full automatic (the trigger button fires your weapon). You are also given access to other guns at specific stages of the game, for example you can elect to cover your comrades by staying back and using the sniper rifle. Reloading your weapon is simple, just point your Wiimote outside of the screen.
Ghost Squad also features “action button” moments, similar to other SEGA games: the player has to use the action button to perform particular actions at various stages of the game. These include releasing hostages from handcuffs and defusing bombs, to hand to hand combat.
There are a number of special effects and pick ups available in the game; certain areas you will be able to use thermal vision, night vision or smoke grenades. If you shoot boxes or other destructible scenery you'll be rewarded with simple pick ups like amour, health, extended magazine clips, or different weapon sights.
Like any arcade shooter, Ghost Squad is a pretty short game, you can complete the 3 missions in under 20 minutes. However, SEGA have tried to make things more interesting for the Wii edition: Every time you complete a mission you rank up a difficulty level for that mission, meaning next time things will have changed- enemies will be harder and different routes become available.
There are 16 difficulty levels to unlock for each of the three missions, meaning plenty of replay action for those die hard light gun monkeys. Each time you complete the game your points go towards your all-time total, which increases your military rank and unlocks additional weapons and costumes.
The unlocked weapons and costumes can be selected before you play; fancy completing the game dressed as a cop with only a shotgun? Well, You can! The range of weapons make the game either easier or harder depending on which you choose, as for the costumes its purely for effect- You can actually play through the entire game wearing a panda suit!
Along with the standard mode comes “party mode” a four player gun shooting festival for you and your mates. That's right, four players, all shooting at once- very nice for an afternoon of gaming with your chums.
By now most of you will be screaming, 'how well does it work with the Wiimote/Zapper?' Actually, it works really well, it feels very natural and not at all awkward like I almost expected. The essence of the gameplay here is very fast, high octane pure arcade action, whilst the Wiimote works differently than a standard light gun, it still makes the game thoroughly enjoyable.
For those die hard light gunners out there, Ghost Squad also features a option to disable the crosshair and calibrate the Wiimote more like a light gun. Although this mode only really works when your playing with the Wii Zapper housing.
If you don't already have the Wii Zapper housing, don't worry- its really not essential for enjoying Ghost Squad- the game plays perfectly just holding the Wiimote.
SEGA have ported this from the arcade version, resulting in no widescreen support, but this doesn't matter much. The game is presented very well, great arcade style menus, graphics are solid and the up tempo music greatly adds to the arcade experience.
Ghost Squad is proof that all arcade shooters should be ported to Wii, it's success is no doubt the reason behind SEGA announcing that House of the Dead will also be making the jump to Wii. If your into the genre, you'll love this one, as did I. It's only downfall is the length of the story- which is somewhat forgiveable given its roots come firmly from arcade gaming.