Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online - Steam Open Beta Review

  • System: PC [Steam]
  • Publisher: Nexon
  • Developer: Neople
  • Release Date: Late 2015 [Closed Beta] July 2016 [Open Beta]
  • Price: Free-to-Play [In-game purchases are available]
  • Rating: M
  • Genre: Tactical Team Based Shooter
  • Players: Multiplayer
  • Official Website: http://firstassault.nexon.net/en

Who it Caters to

Anyone who has grown up around first person shooters will most definitely find Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online to be alluring, and entertaining. Taking inspiration from popular franchise CS:GO from Valve, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online takes everything you love from that series and throws on some extra added features to create its own unique playstyle.

Much of the gameplay is fast paced and takes place in a cyberpunk type universe where everything is futuristic and crazy. Not only does this cater to those who favor FPS titles, but also those who are fans of the anime series itself or perhaps the most recent GITS film that just released starring Scarlett Johansson as Motoko. Whatever your choice is to play the game, the action is most certainly there to keep you on your toes in this team-based tactical shooter.

What to Expect

As stated earlier, GITS: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online is a first person team based tactical shooter that puts you in the GITS universe, as you team up with other players from around the world and take part in various modes such as Team Deathmatch, Terminal Conquest, and Demolition. There are plenty of fresh new modes that are available once you reach a certain level and other perks such as crates that you can unlock or purchase through the marketplace after playing for long periods of time. One great aspect of the game is that it is currently free to play, and is in open beta so if you’re reading this be sure to join us on the battlefield. The gameplay is seamless in regards to its animation, and the framerate stays smooth for the majority of the matches you participate in.

Anyone who has played CS:GO will know that teamwork is paramount when it comes to consistent wins, and in First Assault Online that same approach is imperative. You start off with minimal weapon choices but as you progress and play through the game, you’ll unlock in-game currency known as GP that you can take with you to the market and buy accessories, weapons and whatever other perks you need to succeed. NX is the real currency option that you can use to take advantage of DLC content such as costumes for your character, special weapons, along with other buffs that you would need to save a ton for if you just played regularly.

Open Beta Launch Trailer:

Story 

There really isn’t much to the story in the game, but it pretty much follows the lore of the series and throws you into the world with plenty of action. Perhaps if we were to explain in brief, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online follows Motoko, a cybernetically enhanced combat operative who’s on a mission to defend society and protect the world from the cyber terrorists who are trying to destroy it. With the help of other allies, Motoko must use her abilities to ensure peace is restored and that the sinister organization is taken down as soon as possible.

Gameplay

Introduction - Tutorial Mode | UI Impressions | Skill Sync

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online by Nexon does a great job of providing players with an in-game tutorial right off the bat, to ensure that you understand your way around the level and how to maneuver correctly. Everything you’d expect from any FPS game is taught to you such as crouching, walking, aiming with your crosshairs when sniping, along with various other things that you’ll come to master the more you play. While this may come off as a bore to those who are veterans of these games, it definitely is a great addition for anyone who’s just jumping into the genre and needs a little hand-holding to ensure their experience isn’t overwhelming.

Once the tutorial is finished the game rewards you with plenty of great perks such as in TP, otherwise known as Training Points that you receive just by playing the game. This is great because you can earn GP, weapons, battle cards, skills, crates and more. So Nexon did a great job here of giving players the incentive to really play the game if you want to grab that favorite weapon you desire. The UI is very clean and everything that you need can be easily accessed through the very organized menus, which we’ll touch base on later in the article.

Skill Syncing can be described as a feature where you and your teammates can strategically share your unique character skills in order to gain the upper hand in battle. This is a fantastic feature that’s exclusive to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online because it allows players to create new tactics revolving around their skills, and set up tactical openings to infiltrate the enemy’s base with creativity.

Team Deathmatch

Team Deathmatch is everything you’d expect from any FPS title, and with First Assault Online it’s certainly no different. Of course, you have added perks like your Tier 1 and Tier 2 power-ups that allow your character to take advantage of the unique skill sets they possess such as being able to cloak your character to avoid being detected by the enemy. Tier 1 essentially is the level 1 stage of your character’s skill which can be activated at any time and can be used for a long period of time before it expires.

The cooldown period for these skills takes a while but the fact that you’re always on the run shooting down the enemy, you’ll never even realize it. Aside from that it’s really your run of the mill TDM experience where you need to play fast and play smart to come out on top. With every completed match, you’ll always receive TP along with a battle card that can unlock great perks such as GP, experience points, etc. This is applied to every mode so you don’t need to play TDM to receive post-game bonuses.

Demolition

Demolition is where you and your team must either protect your bases from the enemy planting the bomb, or you being the ones on the offense. This is where your teamwork and communication really come into play because unlike TDM where you can respawn after dying, in Demolition any careless approach will get you killed and you’ll need to wait until the round’s over to help your team out again. This mode tests your patience and ability to think ahead of your enemy, planting droids around the map to snipe out enemies who try to sneak up from behind.

Terminal Conquest

Terminal Conquest is a lot like Capture the Flag but this time you’ll need to capture randomly chosen spots on the map and hold out for as long as possible to gain points over your opponent. The cool side to this mode is that you can use your trusted Tachikoma to scour the area and take out enemies who think that they’re clever while setting up a wall of your own to snipe out any impatient players who love to run in blind. This mode is really great because it forces players to get accustomed to the level, and not just rely on camping to take rounds.

You’re encouraged to run around and find places to efficiently take out the opposing side as quick as possible. The huge Think Tanks are always funny to watch as they demolish anything that stands in its way, while players desperately try to scurry away from eating an array of bullets. Terminal Conquest is perhaps the more entertaining of all the modes because it trains you to always stay focused on the fly, understand the map layout, and group together with teammates to effectively cover your terminals from being taken.

Other Features | Skills | Market | Armory | Ghost Assault

Since there are so many features to cover, we figured it would be best to place it under one category and further emphasize their good and bad points. To go into more detail pertaining to Tier 1 and Tier 2, they relate to your skill and when it can be used as a skill sync for other players. Tier 1 is essentially the level 1 of your skill where its strength isn’t at the peak that it should be, so the more kills you accumulate will raise it to Tier 2. Tier 2 is where your skill is at its max potential which can last longer on the field, which could potentially make or break the match depending on the scenario.

The market is pretty self-explanatory since this is where you’ll be using your GP to purchase upgrades for your characters such as weapons, costumes, and more. As we mentioned earlier in the article, there’s a lot of grinding that you’ll need to do in order to purchase more than one weapon since they don’t come cheap, but the game rewards you in the beginning by giving you a ton of daily quests and a good chunk of GP just for taking part in the experience. On average, one weapon costs just over 250,000 GP so it’s best to save your beginning GP and then spend it later on. Unfortunately, many of the weapon skins cost real money but perhaps that’s how the game grabs you anyway.

The Armory is when you can customize your weapon slots with grenades, upgrades and more. As aforementioned, you can go to the marketplace to quickly unlock items or just grind out and collect weapon perks for free along with skills. Pertaining to skills you have three slots known as Ability Chips, Cyberbrain Chips, and Physical Chips. As you’d expect from the Physical Chips, these allow you to gain buffs such as taking less damage from shrapnels, decrease your reload time, decreasing damage from falls, or allowing you to run faster. Cyberbrain Chips allow you to use your special skills more frequently by lowering the cooldown time, while Ability Chips allow you to improve or alter the functionalities of your operative’s unique special skill.
While we didn’t get much of a chance to take part in Ghost Assault, which is another option you can choose from the Dive Mode, the mode essentially trains you to avoid being caught by really using your stealth to your advantage. Your goal is to scan Cyberbrains or respawn hack allied ghosts to turn the tides in the match in your favor.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus

While GITS does impress us with its very futuristic and clean looking interface, along with its unique features such as skill syncing, it’s hard to truly stand out when CS:GO and Call of Duty are staple franchises in the tactical team-based shooter genre and are constantly evolving. We did like how everything in the game could be purchased through playing countless hours with people around the world with in-game currency, and it didn’t force players to commit to a pay to play model. While the option to use real money is there which is known in the game as ‘NX’, it’s there in case the players feel the urge to level up fast and take on the competition without having to grind a lot of hours to get their favorite weapons and accessories.

Perhaps that may come as a drawback for some since you do have to grind a lot in order to generate enough funds to purchase weapons, unlock new skills and so forth, but then again it’s worth it if you’re truly passionate about the game and doesn't mind clocking in hundreds of hours. We love how the game stays true to the franchise and doesn’t just use the name as a way to generate a following, maintaining the characters that you’d find in the series such as Motoko and others.

We’re currently aiming to unlock all of the decals for our weapons because one thing we do love about them is that they’re all GITS related. If FPS games are your thing then this could easily run you well over 200 hours plus, but if you’re new to FPS and just want to pick up the game because it’s GITS then perhaps it could be used more as a casual escape more than a competitive choice. We also did love that you could choose from a set of operatives, all of which come with their own character specific traits, so you can choose one according to your playstyle.

All are really cool looking as well, and once you throw on their DLC sets it looks all the more beautiful. The game didn’t lag out for us while playing, but we can assume that if your connection is poor, you may experience from lag from time to time. However this game seems to be running on a pretty solid server and we haven’t experienced any severe lag since playing the game, so that’s a major plus.

Honey's Pros:

  • Spectacular online mode with great features.
  • Pretty good graphics with a consistent framerate.
  • Sticks to the GITS story and lore.
  • Allows players to purchase items with in-game currency, and not force players to commit to a F2P structure.
  • The grind can be fun if you’re truly into competitive shooters, or just playing on a team.
  • The perks you receive are a great addition, while getting bonus GP to level up is a plus.
  • Free! FREE! Best four letters!
  • The DLC content is worth the buy [Weapon Skins].
  • Weapon decals are really cool looking and stick to the GITS anime style.
  • Not much noticeable lag which was great. Smooth all around.

Honey's Cons:

  • It’s really only a Ghost in the Shell version of CS:GO, so not much difference in gameplay.
  • The game can feel flat at times due to the excessive grinding one will need to do to get new items, etc.
  • No Asia servers.
  • Would’ve liked more weapon slots.
  • You may have to give in to the pay to play model if you don’t want to commit to playing for too long.

Honey's Final Verdict

With a lot of hours already put into the game, we can truthfully say that this game is worth playing if you enjoy tactical based shooters. If you just like FPS games where you don’t have to rely on other players, then perhaps this isn’t for you. In closing, Ghost in the Shell: Assault Online Beta is a free to play experience that will surely entice fans of the series, and perhaps be of interest to veterans who just want to take a break from the norm.

It’s fast paced, adrenaline pumping, and all-out fun that we recommend anyone to try out because well, it’s free and you have nothing to lose other than a lot of hours having fun. That’s something to never complain about right? Let us know what you think of First Assault Online in the comments below, and be sure to tweet out our articles to keep the community buzzing!

As always for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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