Geist is finally an exclusive game for the gamecube, one where we don’t even get to see Mario for once! The story starts when you as John Raimi are being called to France to dismantle the Volk Corporation who are doing strange scientific experiments that cannot bear to see the daylight. During your heroic attempt to discover what has been going on you suddenly become victim of these gruesome tests yourself! Result: your ghost is sucked out of your body and you become an invisible force. Thanks to some luck you succeed in escaping and only thing remains: to successfully complete your original mission and in the meantime get as much revenge as possible.
Geist is basically an FPS with an added flavour of adventure and some puzzles. The latter following from the fact that thanks to your new ghostly form you can possess lots of objects (going from phones over trashcans to complex machines) and people so that by means of their body or the specific features of the item, you can unravel often fun puzzles. Beware: most of the time you’ll do the standard shooting since you’re quite a lot in the body of someone with a gun.
It’s therefore too bad that it’s the shooting that disappoints in Geist. Although I personally didn’t mind the controls too much, the AI, frame rate and pure excitement really come in too short. Also enemies tend to appear out of nowhere, even after you’ve explored the surroundings in your invisible shape. Luckily there’s the necessary variation (you can easily go from one body to the other) and the necessary boss fights for some additional excitement.
Some encounters towards the end of the game are very fun, for instance the one where you can disable a huge force by quickly changing who you possess. That way you’ll create chaos and the opponents start shooting each other! The game also becomes better the more you get towards the end.
But you’re probably interested in knowing what you can do in your ghost form. Thanks to this you can float around without ever being noticed but there are some things you need to look out for: certain dogs or devices can detect you, there’s no going through walls and you can only roam around freely for a limited time. To be able to survive, you’ll have to possess something.
The latter you do quite often because you quickly realise that due to the straightforwardness of the game you actually get to own something you possess. 90% of the time every item you get is part of a puzzle, something that’s a shame actually as the assignments get a bit too easy.
Luckily the obstacles you have to get remain original and varied so that this doesn’t start to bother too much. Nice is also that before you can control people you first have to scare them so that their aura becomes red, which in ghost language means “step into my brain”. Scaring someone can be done by making noise with a trashbin, having strange sounds come from a phone or by letting pc’s crash (oh no, a blue screen of death!). Too bad there aren’t more possibilities for that though!
You can probably imagine that the concept of possession allows for a lot of creativity. In one of the puzzles for instance, you’re invisible near a ladies shower. Also here, like with the shooter part, I regularly had the feeling that more could have been done. Some more creativity and more freedom would have made something really innovative and memorable from Geist. Maybe something for the successor?
Graphically, Geist is not bad but nothing more either. Aside for some framerate problems the game looks detailed and varied although here and there some things are plain ugly. Escpecially the surroundings and the eye to detail made an impression on me. Also the sound doesn’t know any big problems but you can hardly call it great. On a technical side the reasonable loading times are worth noting, just like the strange idea to constantly force you to save before starting after you died. For the eye-candy you don’t need to get this title.
Next to the entertaining but not all too long single player campaign those looking for added value can enjoy this title by trying out the multiplayer options. There you can play with up to 3 friends who of course have to watch your TV together in split-screen. There’s quite a lot of modes like Capture-the-Host, Deathmatch and Hunt. The first is a variation on the popular mod CTF while the latter is a team-based game where ghosts take on humans. While the ghosts take over humans and try to let them commit homicide, the humans have ghostbuster-like weapons to take down the floaters. All mods are fun to play and thanks to the addition of bots they offer just a bit more than the average Cube game. The question however remains whether many people have 4 controllers and a large enough TV to fully enjoy this.
Geist is simple to summarise: it’s better than an average FPS that is uplifted to a higher level by the addition of “possession”. Althugh this combination guarantees an original twist to the genre, original puzzles and some fun moments, the whole lacks depth and the gameplay is too linear to talk of it as a top game. That Geist reminds just a bit too much of Half-Life and that the shooter-part sometimes lacks some excitement makes Geist no absolute must-have. However, if you’re looking for a shooter on your cube with a little extra, then you won’t regret buying this!