- Fast paced action moves along so well you might lose track of time
- Great upbeat soundtrack
- Level design is a lot more fun this time around
- Controlling Jack can get a little slippery at times
- Majority of story gets told during heavy action
Playing as a badass ninja cyborg named Jack in a cyberpunk dystopian world with fast-paced action akin to a first-person version of Hotline Miami should have hooked me immediately. It sounds fantastic, right?
In the case of the original Ghostrunner title, it didn’t until at least a few hours in. Thankfully, Ghostrunner II hooked me almost immediately.
The gameplay skeleton of the original game is still here: tons of wall running, dashing, sliding, and dicing enemies to bits while dying a lot in the process.
However, some new elements have been added this time, like a motorbike and a wingsuit.
The motorbike sections helped add a different type of action to the mix, riding quickly through tunnels and even up the sides of walls. I found them to be a welcome addition.
Also, my gripes about the first game have been smoothed out somewhat.
Level design seems more balanced to make the difficulty of the game increase on a smooth incline and keep things more often on the side of fun rather than frustrating. That will keep you playing longer, and it’s worth the time.
Hey, you’re that ninja
One of my biggest issues with the first game is still in full force: the storytelling. Not that the story is bad or anything like that, but that most of the dialogue happens primarily during missions while you are deep in the action.
Since Jack dies in a single hit and you must concentrate on intense platforming or dealing with enemies, paying attention to all that radio chatter is exceptionally challenging.
I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the game’s story besides that the main bad guy was brought back to life by an exiled cult of Ghostrunners, and Jack needs to stop them.
To be fair, there are little bits of downtime in between missions where you can talk to Jack’s compatriots back at their base and get the rundown of a few things, but since I missed so much of the story during missions I just kind of tuned out.
Then again, do you need a compelling story to be a cyborg ninja? We thought not.
Running on empty
The real meat and potatoes of the game are the freerunning and the fast-paced combat encounters. There are lots of obstacles that keep the players needing to think fast to survive.
Many platforming sections focus on making Jack run across walls, leap from moving platforms, piggyback off robot drones to gain distance, or grind on rails while avoiding laser walls.
They play out in a way that makes them feel like visual puzzles coming at you quickly; for the most part, this was a lot of fun. However, Jack’s movement could sometimes get a little inconsistent, with jumps not always going as planned.
This doesn’t make for too big of an issue throughout the game because Ghostrunner II is very forgiving with its checkpoint system.
There is no loading screen after a death, so you restart at the last checkpoint instantly. There is even an option to do an instant restart with a button.
Ghostrunner II lets you meet your maker
Checkpoints are frequent, and this will also keep players less frustrated. Even boss fights have several checkpoints, which can keep the action moving forward.
Those familiar with the enemies in the first game will recognize most of the roster in Ghostrunner II, but there are a few new faces to deal with as well.
They come armed with guns, swords, laser cannons, fists, or even jet packs that fire missiles.
Since Jack can now do perfect parries where if someone attempts to melee him, he can stick his katana through their head, most enemy types are fun to deal with.
The giant robotic spiders that can dash at you should have been left on the cutting room floor.
I’d buy that for a dollar
Jack has upgrades that can be unlocked as you progress; each set can help with different aspects of his abilities. This can help the player tune upgrades to the playstyle that fits them the best.
Jack’s abilities, like throwing shurikens, doing a quick blast from his hands that forces enemies and bullets away, and even making a shadow clone of himself, enable different playstyles.
For my playthrough, I mostly used the shurikens for most of the game.
They can freeze an enemy in place and then allow you to grapple straight up to them so you can dispatch them instantly.
Between this ability and the parry, I could get through most of the sections without too much of a hassle.
Ghostrunner II is just as slick as the original
Overall I think that fans of the first Ghostrunner should have a really fun time with this title.
It adds enough new things to the formula and offers more of what they enjoyed before. New players should also be able to ease into this title a lot easier than they could with the first one.
I clocked in at about nine and a half hours of gametime my first time through, so for being a more budget priced title, there is still plenty here to chew on.
This fast-paced action title brings plenty of heat…and blood. Jump back into the exoskeleton of a ninja cyborg called Jack and parkour your way through hordes of enemies in a cyberpunk dystopia.
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