Whenever my friends come over to the house, they inevitably make their way to my collection of videogames, and almost like clockwork someone says “How come you don’t have as many GameCube games as you do Xbox and PS2?” Well my stock answer is because Nintendo doesn’t typically have the games that I want to play. Not as a rule, I enjoy the Resident Evil series and there are several other GameCube games that are fun.
But the GameCube is primarily known for its family friendly and younger player appealing games. So I don’t normally buy those titles or get that many for review. So when my editor asked me about how Geist was my answer was a little… fuzzy.
Now let me go ahead and say this: If you only own a GameCube, and are an older, more mature gamer, then you will probably think this title is gold. Nintendo doesn’t typically put out a lot of titles like this that are rated M for some violence and suggestive nudity. But, if you own several systems, you may think this game is clever and a decent title, but chances are you could find a better action/adventure game on one of your other systems. OK, now that it has been said, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
In Geist, you play a Government Operative named John Raimi (horror fans take note of the name) who has been captured by the Sinister Volks Corporation. After some unfortunate “testing” John is no longer among the living, but he’s not quite dead either. Instead, his mission remains the same and as an ethereal spirit floating around the research facility he’s going to get the answers he needs and maybe even a body to live out his days in.
Geist has a novel approach to the FPS genre. Problem is that while the idea is a winner, the gameplay and dynamics are not, nor is the sense of consistency. Let me explain. John goes around the facility as a floating spirit, which allows him access to places a normal guy couldn’t get into, when he arrives at a place or a problem that cannot be overcome in his spectral form he can, for lack of a better term, possess it.
This means if you need to possess a gun emplacement to rid yourself of those pesky guards then do it. But, if you need to push a button, you will need to scare a human in order to put their mental state into a tizzy, allowing you to occupy their body, thereby being able to push the button. See what I mean about the consistency? How is it you can absorb yourself into a machine gun and fire it, but not be able to absorb yourself into a button in order to activate it? Hmmmmm.
The game also suffers from some real clipping issues when the action begins to ramp up, as well as graphics that don’t do the game justice. They want the game to be somewhat creepy and atmospheric, but it doesn’t really come together from a visual stance with the embarrassing polygon pop-up and loose feel. I’d like to say the audio was cool, but even that seemed to skip and stop for no apparent reason. It made me feel like it needed to be in development for another couple of months. Maybe if they had, the game could have been a big holiday hit for them.
So at the end of the day, and even with a decent multiplayer mode, Geist feels like it wants to run with the big boys like God of War for the PS2 and The Suffering. When it really just kind of walks along with games like Beyond Good and Evil and XIII.