As I was ramping up on Ghost in the Shell: SOC
, I thought it really was misleading to think of the game as a first person shooter. It seemed like there were plenty of mission-based objectives and actions that went above and beyond the 'run and gun' of most FPS titles. But, the reality of the game, because of poor pacing and design more than anything else, is that the single player mode pales in comparison to the fun you will have in a multi-player match setting. And, it's not like there aren't plenty of good deathmatch FPS titles with forgettable single player modes. Finding both together is a rare thing, indeed.
The story in Ghost in the Shell: SOC revolves around some fairly inscrutable historical references that tie into present day acts of terrorism around Berutarbe. Basically, leading up to a big commemorative event, it seems that wrong-doers are plotting to take out members of the old faction. Section 9, with its four key operatives, must work together to defeat the 'terrorists.' Having four operatives makes for good variety, and the single player game gives you freedom to mix and match between each of the characters and four 'think tanks' or Tachikoma models. The Tachikoma makes this feel a bit like Armored Core and when you go into each level, you take the Tachikoma with you and can pilot it independently. Characters and the tanks can be customized with weapons and gadgets, which makes for some replay value.
Objectives in levels range from standard devestation to searches for hostiles, neutrals or hostages. You sometimes end up on an easter egg hunt, or have to run in stealth mode to win the round. Ghost in the Shell: SOC is a far better single player experience for offering variety in level design and there are even hidden items as bonuses in some areas. All in all, the standard conventions of a mission-based shooter. Customizing and using the Tachikoma makes for some interesting possibilities in gameplay, and using different characters can make a level more or less difficult.
After several hours, the single player game is not going to appeal beyond those who really love the franchise or can overlook the flaws. Where you want to go from this point is to grab some friend and investigate the multiplayer games. Even though controls aren't the best, they are only slightly soiled, and Ghost in the Shell: SOC really shines in wireless multiplayer. Team battle options and the choice to fight with game characters or the Tachikoma models really give multiplayer great appeal. And, the fun you can have with even a few friends - or with 6 (!) - will make up for the limited single player mode.