GAMECUBE REVIEW: GEIST

When you're faced with developing a game within a genre that has been milked as much as sitcoms featuring sassy smart-assed wisecracking children, it's not a bad idea to get as creative as you possibly can. Geist, a FPS exclusive to the Cube attempts just that. Yes, it's a FPS and yes, those have been done to death, but Geist tries very hard to set itself apart from the pack and while it doesn't succeed with flying colors, the end result is more satisfying than frustrating.

You'll start the game as our soon to be tragic hero, John Raimi who is flesh and blood the moment you press the Start button. The first level of the game provides the backdrop of the story but only when Raimi is snuffed out, does the actual quest for knowledge, and thus, the real gameplay, begin.

As a ghost or Geist as the German call them, Raimi must search the evil Volks Corporation for answers that pertain to both his dire situation and ones that are far more important on a global scale. Since the pix on the back of the box detail that familiar FPS viewpoint complete with weapon of mass destruction, you'd be forgiven if you thought that firearms would be your main mode of defense. That's partially true except that as Raimi in spirit form, you will need to possess humans to gain access to their guns. You'll also learn that you can possess animals and inanimate objects as well - and as boring as possessing a ladder seems in real life, it can pay off big time in a creative game like Geist.

Human beings cannot be easily taken over, so you will have to scare the daylights out of them first. Unfortunately, while this mechanic transcends the usual FPS fare, it's far too linear and scripted to really sink your teeth into. Most of the time you'll have to possess inanimate objects and make them misbehave which sets off a chain reaction of fear, allowing you to finally possess them. Some of the puzzles in the game require some forethought to figure out how to do this, but once you put two and two together a couple of times, the entire equation becomes as transparent as Raimi himself.

In spirit form Raimi has to keep his life force filled by continually possessing humans or feeding off plants (I don't get that one either…maybe that's why all of my plants die even though I water them regularly). Since boundaries are a natural part of videogames, Raimi won't even have all of the usual powers you'd associate with a spirit. He can't walk through walls (unless there is a gap in them) and he can't float high into the air for some reason. So in essence, it's like he's a bonafied FPS hero who can take possession of people and objects. If he COULD do all of this, the game would have required far more attention, planning and design. As it stands, the limitations forced upon the player's abilities seem to exist for the sole purpose of artificially elongating gameplay. For example since Raimi can't go through any wall he wants, he will need to figure out how to gain access into various sectors of the complex. It's not that this kind of gameplay isn't expected; it certainly is, but it would have been far more creative if developers N-Space would have removed the shackles that bind Raimi's spirit.

Geist's visuals run the gamut between impressive and shoddy, mostly due in part to the inconsistent framerate when too many enemies appear onscreen. For the most part though Geist is an above average GameCube game in terms of overall prettiness, due to surprisingly detailed environments and lots of cool dynamic lighting effects. The game sports voiceovers and text, and I was wondering why N-Space didn't just commit to using all voice as it would have been far more impressionable. Musically Geist is very solid and the soundtrack helps to capture the games most suspenseful moments.

Although you don't see a lot of this these days, N-Spaced created some very imaginative multi-player games that completely compliment Geist's supernatural premise. The only drawback to these modes is that they must be played in 4 player split-screen which I have never been fond of, but that's a moot point if you and your buds love it. The modes included are possession deathmatch, hunt and capture the host. For the friendless among us, Geist even boasts bots that will flesh out your multiplayer games if you're friends have currently ousted you due to your personal hygiene upkeep. With bots and 4 friends you can have up to 8 players at once and did I mention that the bots have adjustable difficulty levels? I didn't? Well then, let me say that the bots have adjustable difficulty levels.

While Geist would take a back seat to bigger name titles released in November, let me remind you that it's August and the Cube hasn't really seen any decent FPS for quite awhile. Certainly Geist isn't perfect as I suggested, but it is entertaining and will at least require 8-10 hours on first run through. Toss in the multiplayer hjinks and you've got a game you can play with your buds (or alone) till the big blockbusters start rolling in, in a month or so. Thanks to some new mechanics tossed into an old (and some would say dying) genre, Geist delivers a FPS experence that you've never had before and that definitely counts for something.

Preview By Vaughn

Remember when poltergeists used to just throw dishes around and rearrange the furniture? Those were the good old days of the paranotsonormal. Get it? Para - not so - normal? Anyhoo....Everything these days has to get funkified, jazzercised and exercized...er, make that exorcised, and Geist - coming your way to the Cube shortly - isn't exempt from these Hollywood action makeovers.

You'll play as John Raimi whom, let's just suggest, some really bad things happen to. Really bad things. Things like having your soul ripped out of your body. And you though getting the carts at Wal-Mart sucked. Well think again, Toobis. As a special agent with disease control, our tragic hero is on loan to a counter-terrorism organization and as usual, he's experimented on. That's where the soul-sucking begins. But luckily Raimi doesn't die. Oh no, that would be too easy. Instead Raimi becomes part spirit, part FPS kickass action dude in search of some body. His body, to be exact.

Coming to grips with your predicament, you'll have to scare your way around the mysterious Volks Corporations (punch buggy, no return!) and take possession of humans, animals and objects during your quest for the truth.

Factor in a lengthy single player adventure as well as 2-4 multiplayer and you might have a title worth investigating.

We'll be getting our hands on a review copy any moment now. In fact, StewXX has probably beaten the darn thing. Stay tuned for our full review.

Press:

In the hallways, labs and chambers of a shadowy compound, an unseen power is lurking.

As a ghostly Spectral Operative, players must search for a physical body, which is mysteriously being kept alive somewhere in the enormous complex. Players won't always be alone though--as they explore, they must collect the energies of indigenous spirits to help unravel a mystery and build their own power. Some will help ... but beware, for not all the spirits are friendly. Prepare for a first-person adventure with a spectral twist!

You are John Raimi, a disease-control agent with the federal government, on loan to an elite counterterrorism unit. Your team is sent to investigate the shadowy Volks Corporation. When the operation goes horribly wrong, you are captured and subjected to a ghastly experiment that rips your spirit from your physical body. You now roam the halls of the Volks Corporation compound as a spectral phantom, using your powers to scare and possess any human or animal that crosses your path. If you’re going to have any hope of finding your own body, you must employ your hair-raising power of possession to control humans, animals and objects, using the unique abilities of each to explore the compound, solve puzzles and strike at your enemies. Along the way, you must discover the secret of the Volks Corporation to unravel the mystery of your condition and find a way to recover your human form.

Features:

  • Explore the compound as a ghost, then possess more than a dozen unique character types using their weapons, equipment, skills, and even memories, to complete your goals.
  • Possessions range from soldiers with guns to dog- and mouse-like creatures that can perform specialized physical tasks.
  • Choose different characters and see the world in different ways.
  • Travel through the human world virtually unseen, using your abilities to slip through cracks, interfere with electronics, move objects and more. Face challenges from two unique angles--as a possessed human or a lurking spirit hunting its prey.
  • Prepare for death matches with the dead in all-new multiplayer modes that combine first-person combat with unique ghost and possession mechanics.


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System: GC
Dev: n-Space
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Preview By Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
4.0