Reviewed: September 22, 2005
Released: August 15, 2005
You are John Raimi, one of the nationís top specialists against biological and chemical threats. You have recently been hired by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to extract Thomas Bryson from the Volks Corporation. Bryson had been sent in to investigate the alleged, illegal operations of Alexander Volks. After weeks of silence, Bryson finally makes contact and relays some information about viruses and demons in a garbled transmission.
What begins as an extraction turns into a nightmare for Raimi. Something goes horribly wrong during the extraction and Raimi and Bryson become the only remaining captives. Raimiís short experience as a guinea pig for Volks ends with his spirit being torn apart from his physical body. Thus begins your paranormal adventure in Geist.
Now you must wander the halls of the Volks Corporation as an ethereal mist, possessing humans, animals, and objects. What started out as an extraction is now a matter of pure survival. You must infiltrate the corporation in order to find a way to recover your body. In doing so, youíll uncover the unearthly secret that has been hidden within the walls of the compound for many years.
Geist puts a twist on the whole FPS genre. Granted, the first level follows the traditional FPS style, but thatís also the last level to be that way. Instead of just blasting your way through levels, mindlessly fulfilling numerous objectives, Geist has you, for the most part, stealthily moving through levels, possessing various hosts, and solving puzzles. You can still blast your way through, and in some spots youíll have to, but thatís not the main basis of the game.
I know hearing the word ďpuzzlesĒ can turn some of you gamers off, but the puzzles in this game are not that hard to solve. Some may take some time to figure out, but for the most part, a lot of the puzzles follow a fairly simply linear path. A lot of the time you are simply possessing objects or people in a sequential order so that you can achieve certain goals. There are also enough checkpoints in the game so that if you die, chances are you wonít have to redo too many steps to get where you were.
As with any game that tries to break new ground in a genre, Geist has its ups and downs. With all the thinking you have to do for the puzzles in the game, they did you the favor of giving you unlimited ammo. Youíll still have to reload your weapon, but you wonít have to worry about running out of clips. Your health doesnít deplete all too quickly, meaning that you probably wonít constantly die as in many FPS games. Even for those of you that like to go gung-ho into battle, there is still an abundant amount of health packs placed throughout each level, and if you do die in human form you still have your ghostly existence that can be replenished by possessing the nearest living or inanimate object.
There are two problems with the game: weapons array and a lack of bosses, at least until the six in a row at the end of the game. Unlimited ammo is ok, but it gets kind of boring when you only get one or two types of guns for a level. In terms of weapon selection, youíre basically limited to who you can possess in a level. Sure, each level might have a ton of guards, but they all carry the same weapon.
As for the bosses, in roughly the first 90% of the game, youíll be fighting the same boss over and over again. It keeps running away and coming back in later stages. It tends to become rather repetitive, especially when the manner of fighting the boss stays relatively the same each time. The reoccurring boss uses the same attacks each time, with exception to the last time, and just makes you feel like you kind of got screwed on the challenge. Nevertheless, the last handful of boss stages can somewhat make up for the early parts.
The last few levels are where youíll start to definitely feel the difference in Geistís approach to the FPS genre. Not only will you have enemies in the flesh, but also ethereal enemies that will try to possess your body and make you commit suicide.
This possession concept also sets the multiplayer aspect apart from other FPS games. Granted, the lack of weapon variety hurt the potential that the multiplayer mode could have had, the approach is still very unique. One mode actually has players fighting over a body, one person trying to keep it alive while another tries to make it commit suicide. Like all other FPS games on the Gamecube, the multiplayer gameplay suffers from not being playable online. So unless you have a lot of friends that you can play with, multiplayer may not be enough of a factor for playability.
In terms or replay action, this game does have items you can collect and things to archive. So you can always go back trying to collect and archive everything possible. However, once you find everything, replaying the game tends to lose its edge. For some of you, it may even have virtually no replay-ability after you beat the game the first time, since the game is fairly linear.
Although Geist is somewhat innovative in the world of first-person shooters, you canít help but feel as though youíre playing a beta version of the game. It is just too noticeable to how many corners were cut in the development of Geist. It almost seems as though n-Space is trying to test the waters and see how gamers respond to this new sub-genre. Sure the game is different, but it basically just stops there. Itís not mind-blowing different, just different.
It is easy to see that n-Space didnít design the game to have stunning graphics. They made the graphics good enough to be acceptable. The effects, however, seem to be done rather well. The hazy, bluish vision you have as a ghost gives that floating-on-air type feeling. The way you see things when youíre in your speed mode in later stages attempts to give you the feeling of being in the Matrix. Attention to detail is also given when you see things through the eyes of a dog, rat, person, or any other object. I do give n-Space props on paying attention to the varying perspectives.
As for the rest, in-game detail and cinematics are only on par with other games for the Gamecube. Unlike some other first-person or even third-person shooters, you donít really tend to believe the game and forget reality. Some games you can feel the action or feel the fear. Geist just has a way of reminding you that itís simply a game.
For a lot of the game, the music is much to be heard of. If you even notice it, it is usually mellow enough to just drift off into the background with the other effects. The music tries to become upbeat in tense or combat situations, but it mostly just serves as a cue to the enemy being aware of you.
The most awkward aspect of sound in the game is the fact that the main character does not speak. I donít know if heís mute or just shy, but he doesnít speak. Aside for some grunts and moans from some of his hosts, the only time he actually gives speech is when he possesses a lady. He somehow manages to communicate with everyone through facial expressions and hand gestures.
The story mode can be finished in a rental period. If you want to find every little thing in the game, it might take two rental periods. Once you finish getting everything, you probably wonít touch story mode anymore. From there, your only choice is to move on to multiplayer. Even then, without a vast assortment of weapons to choose from, multiplayer can entertain you for so long.
In terms of value, it is something new to try. However, it doesnít exactly hit the $50 mark of innovation. Geist had nice concepts and new ideas, but it just seems like not enough effort was put into it to make it very impressive.
Geist is a different type of FPS that doesnít really utilize the gung-ho run and gun approach to completing missions. Instead, it uses more stealth and manipulation to achieve goals and only a moderate level of firefights. Although it seems to have had potential, it lost that somewhere in development. With normal graphics, background music that tends to be forgotten, and low replay-ability, Geist is better off on the store shelves than in your Gamecube, at least until it hits the bargain bins.