The live-action Ghost in the Shell film hits theaters March 31, but its futuristic world of cyborgs and next-level weaponry makes for some prime ass-kicking video games.
The story of Ghost in the Shell originated as a cyberpunk manga in which the cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi is a member of a special operations task force combating political intrigue and terrorism. She’s basically a superpowered ninja robocop taking on all manner of robots, hackers, and military-grade opponents. Though the manga was first serialized in 1989, it’s only made the leap into video games exactly four times and with varying degrees of success. The Ghost in the Shell video games are a mix of first and third-person shooters, and one game even allows you to customize your cyberized operative.
So, if you’re looking to take control of the Major — or someone or something else from Section 9 — here are the only four Ghost in the Shell video games ever, ranked.
4. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (PSP — 2005)
This PSP GitS game is technically a sequel to a PS2 game of the same name but switched to a first-person perspective. So, that’s weird. As far as the gameplay, there’s not much variety between weapons. Enemy A.I. is ironically lackluster, the inclusion of Tachikoma robots feels forced, and trademark stealth missions are poorly executed. Ultimately, what should have been a cerebral, tech-focused shooter wound up being the opposite of robust.
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (PS2 — 2004)
Generally considered average at best, the PS2 Ghost in the Shell game has a third-person perspective, which is probably the best route for a franchise involving acrobatic stealth. But, with repetitive gameplay and clunky controls, it was considered pretty inaccessible. The game tries to ape classic Tomb Raider by having the Major do a lot of platforming and edge-grabbing. The franchise’s aesthetic is certainly there, but the game does a poor job of keeping things exciting.
2. Ghost in the Shell (PlayStation — 1997)
A major plus for the first Ghost in the Shell game ever is the inclusion of the same English voice cast used in the animated film. The story and art — which exist outside of the series’s main continuity — are created by Masamune Shirow, the author of the OG manga. Rather than the Major, the player controls a Fuchikoma, the climbing robotic tanks featured in the series, in a fast-paced adventure with varied level design.
1. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — First Assault Online (PC — 2016)
This (relatively) new Ghost in the Shell game — casually called just First Assault — is an online squad-based multiplayer first-person shooter that’s free-to-play with optional paid content. Squad members can share powers through the SkillSync system with nearby allies. First Assault has great graphics, fast-paced gunplay, and the anime voice actors reprise their roles for added authenticity to this Ghost in the Shell experience.
- Download First Assault for free only on Steam.