Release Date : 14th July 2017 (PS4) also available on Xbox One, PC & WiiU
With inspiration from the SHMUP titles of the 90’s, some may remember Ghost Blade as the Dreamcast game made for the console in 2015, 14 years after the system was discontinued, but don’t panic, Since it’s release on Xbox One in February and Steam (PC) back in March, Ghost Blade HD has now come to PS4 too.
Any game that slaps scantly clad women in front of your eyeballs, either has some serious content to show, or it’s trying to grab your attention and it’s safe to say the character select screen is somewhat intriguing. Ghost, Rekka and Milan are the three girls who are obviously Earth’s bravest heroes and part of the Earth Defence Force. Sent to destroy ‘Evil Shira’ the deadly 10,000 year old artificial intelligence, originally built to protect Mars but it’s now wreaking havoc and threatening to destroy the universe.
After selecting your character, you’ll head out into space, and start shooting everything that moves, almost bullet-hell, there’s a lot going off on screen, but thankfully you’ve got the firepower. Your initial stream of bullets will fire directly ahead, but as you pick-up power-ups (this will take about 30 seconds to get to full power) you’ll obtain side-pods which will also fire outside of the standard stream. Ghost provides a very wide angle with less concentration centrally, while Rekka still gives a little side coverage without losing too much head-on. Rekka concentrates all fire directly forward but provides a slight wider coverage. Each have their weakness, but to protect from direct threats you can hit the alternate fire button, to pull the side-pods in front of your ship concentrating all fire-power directly in front.
Before you have chance to think why they’re wearing so little, the screen is packed with projectiles and habit will have you trying to dodge through the firepower, sadly it’s sometimes a little tough to see with so much going off on screen, and it’s even more difficult to know if you’ve actually been hit because there’s no visual or audio representation unless your ship blows up, with only Easy modes automatic smart-bombs letting you know you would have died.
There’s greens, purple and pinks all firing towards you, and like the storyline (which was only described to me in a press release) the game does very little to give you the details. the Training mode is simply an A to B shooting everything in sight with no direction or backstory, It’s all pretty easy to get used to, but with zero-hand holding most people will jump into Easy or Normal and find the game a little too simple. Rewarding the player with a fully powered ship before you’re half way through the first level isn’t the best way to avoid repetition and with only 5 levels, all repeated for both training and score attack modes you’ll need another local player for co-operative play, or a love for point chasing and leaderboards.
Graphically it’s as you’d expect from a vertical shooter, backgrounds feel detached, but the screen is packed with bright, colourful action consistently, it can get a little distracting and the constant flurry of gold point generating pickups will distract you to death more than once.
There’s also the border’s with a mobile game style window to play in, you have a choice of wallpapers to surround your game-play but most will keep this at default or change it to plain black to avoid further distractions.
Audio is pretty good with a nice mix of background music and special effects with only the chink of those gold tokens annoying me at all through my first three play-through’s.
Three play-through’s isn’t bad for any game, but sadly it’s all over so quickly, Within 2 hours of stating up Ghost Blade HD, I’d completed it twice, racked up nearly half of the achievements and was left feeling like there’s very little left to see.
Of course the purists will find plenty to do, trying to get through hard-mode without dying, racking up gargantuan combo’s and score’s that might have a chance of reaching the top 10, which was sadly already populated with scores three times what I’d achieved leaving me with even less reason to play on when I couldn’t even see if I was 11th or 11,000th.
Bottom Line : Scrolling shooter fans will get plenty of enjoyment and nostalgia from Ghost Blade HD, sadly that enjoyment is likely to be short lived but at $9.99/£8.99 it’s not a bad price to pay for an evening or two of entertainment.
Gameplay : 7
Graphics : 6
Sound : 7
Story : 4
Value : 5
Overall : 5.8 / 10