With Geist, prepare to enter a world that has never really been seen before. Forget traditional FPSs like Halo, Timesplitters and GoldenEye 007, Geist is something in of itself altogether. For as long as gamers can remember, we have played and seen games that would have ghosts or other spectral entities against you and wanting to take you out at any given point in time. Well now the tables have turned and it’s now YOUR turn to take a hack and doing the same to others!
The star of Geist is a bio weapon and disease control specialist by the name of John Raimi. You have been exclusively selected to join a CR-2 counter-terrorism military unit to investigate a shady corporation known as Volks in southern France. Not too long ago, your best friend and mentor who seemed to have gone missing recently was able to get out a transmission to your higher authorities. In the transmission, the words “virus” and “demon” were made out to be understandable. Now obviously you don’t know exactly what that means, but you are about to find out!
Upon infiltrating the Volks corporation with surprising ease, you eventually encounter the rather insanely large lab in which secret experiments are being conducted. You do indeed find your friend as well as the data that you are there to download to your trusty PDA.
But something goes terribly wrong in the process…
In getting your objective data, the security alarms for the institute go off, and now it’s time to book it! Not everyone in your team will make it to the extraction point, but it doesn’t exactly matter either anyway. Because of some bizarre twist of fate, your team is killed and yourself knocked unconscious. You then find yourself strapped to one insanely huge machine as you witness one of the cruelest acts man could ever do. Your spirit is literally RIPPED from your body!
Why did these people do this to you? Why did they want your spirit? What exactly are they planning to do with this separation machine for the future? These questions will be answered as you now haunt the halls of the Volks Corporation in search of your body…and answers…
Geist isn’t exactly the most awe inspiring game out there when it comes to how it presents the beginning of the game to you. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it also isn’t incredibly boring either. You will first drop down into your area of investigation via helicopter tether cable, and then you are given a small tutorial of basic game elements. Before actually going inside, you are taught all the functions of your D-Pad, which include things like your objectives listing and map display. Once you get to the lab, find your friend and get the data for your PDA, then all heck breaks loose!
Once you reach a certain point in your escape, your commander tells you to whip out your gun since you are definitely going to need it. This is the game’s one and only 9mm pistol so you better enjoy it while it lasts. It is a little weird to see Raimi holding the gun by two hands the whole time, but it’s really not difficult to control.
So the escape progresses, as you take out various members of the Volks security team that are trying to take you out. They aren’t really hard to get rid of, but you have to be careful and use your ducking ability to avoid taking heavy damage. There is one point when your commander utilizes the grenade launching function on his assault rifle, and seeing it more than twice still won’t be enough to stop making you smile!
So simply put, the first half of the beginning mission isn’t anything special or exciting, but escaping adds a bit more spice to the overall tone and feel of the game’s atmosphere.
In terms of how the game actually feels and controls, it really is no different than the mechanics of other FPS games available for the GameCube. If you’ve played the Bond games, the Timesplitter games or any FPS games for that matter, you are pretty well set. You utilize the analog and C-Sticks for all your movement, and it all feels fine. At the beginning there is a chance they might feel stiff to you, but really after not too long it’s hardly noticeable because you’re having so much fun.
There are actually two control schemes to choose from in this game, Shade and Wraith. Both of them really affect your movement controls for the most part instead of the functions of the other face buttons. So depending on how you like the two sticks to function in terms of forward and side-to-side movement along with looking and aiming will determine which scheme you use.
Geist is simply not a hard game to get a hold of. The FPS mechanics are just as easy as other FPSs on the market, and shortly after you become a ghost, you will be given a nice tutorial on your possessing abilities. Both elements are very fun, and learning them is just the same!
In the graphical department, Geist has the capability of really wowing you with how awesome some parts of the game look, while also making you wonder how other parts can look so underdeveloped. Geist is truly a game like no other, and for the most part the graphics are done quite well to accentuate that. The atmosphere when both being a ghostly entity or possessing either a human or animal is really something else.
So let’s start with the aspect that you are bound to be pretty impressed with. Geist is definitely a game that prides itself on having truly awesome looking special effects in terms of the spiritual atmosphere. How you actually see the world and interact with it in spirit form is really just jaw dropping at various points in the game. When you are a ghost, your body is sort of a blue luminescent figure that somehow still looks to have human survival organs on the inside. Your eyes also have an eerie looking glow to them which is also pretty cool.
But how the world around you stands out while navigating in ghost form is truly something else. The area around you will also have a sort of blue tinted glow since your body is derived of the same essence, and you actually move faster than anything else around you that is actually “alive”. This allows you to see just about everything in slow motion until you jam your spirit into something, and that is just really cool.
When you actually do possess something, the in-game cutscenes that show you pulling it off all look very intriguing. They basically show the various forums of light floating around you as a full form ghost actually compacting you into nothing but little rings of light as you eventually make your way into whatever your target may be. If what you’re possessing is an inanimate object, the screen will tend to spin around adding a rather unique affect to the final action. But with humans and animals, it can be quite a rush to witness the somewhat “struggle” of whatever your target is to your taking them over. But if they are indeed scared enough, their body is indeed yours!
Another great aspect in terms of the looks of Geist are the weapon designs. Now it would be incorrect to say the game has a wide variety of weapons that you will use throughout the game. But the selection also isn’t terrible either. You have your standard 9mm pistol at the beginning, and throughout the game you will also get your hands on a sub machine gun, assault rifles, a shotgun and other more advanced ones. Each weapon really does look awesome in their own unique regard, and the only one you may get tired of at some point is the sub machine gun because you get that weapon more often than not. But just how each weapon looks incredibly cool and very different from each other really helps keep the shooting aspect of the game fresh.
A sort of good and bad feature of Geist with the graphics are the character models. There are a few really good looking characters in the game, including both Raimi and Alexander Volks, but overall most of them just don’t look as detailed as they really could be. It seems like Nintendo and n-Space took the time to focus on making all the “required hosts” throughout the game as the best looking ones since you would interact with them the most, but that shouldn’t have been an excuse to make everyone else look a little dull. Sure your enemies will be diversified in the various suits and armor they where, which is indeed nice, but overall most of the people you don’t have too much interaction with don’t look impressive. It really doesn’t help that a lot of character faces look like nothing more than simple texture layers slapped with human features on top. That doesn’t go to say they look weird or anything, but like stated before, the detail isn’t exactly there all the time.
That brings us to the overall look and design of the actual levels. There are a total of nine missions in Geist, but about half of them actually feature more than one playable stage. Geist definitely does a great job bringing the game a lot of diversity in terms of the environments that you will encounter. You will indeed haunt the halls of the main corporation building, but you will also find yourself outside at some points and even at one stage in the game, a virtual simulator! As for the good and bad in this regard, the good comes with what you mainly interact with, and the bad comes with the detail on the outside. Geist is a game that heavily focuses on your possession ability, and in each area of every level you encounter, you will see a lot of detail in the objects around you. Whether they may be computers, exploding crates, trash cans or even various lights, they are all well-designed. There are actually a ton of computerized devices in the game, and they all look like futuristic kind of equipment which is really cool. The area in which environments suffer is lack of elaboration with natural aspects of the world and walls. There are points in Geist when you will be outside, and it really just doesn’t look like anything special. The in-game cutscenes actually do a great job bringing some natural aspects that you may see to life, but there aren’t too many of them that do that. You will encounter hills, mountainous regions and all sorts of different areas, but they look like they were sort of hurried in design and won’t do much to impress you.
Finally we come to what many feel is a detrimental part of the game, and that’s the frame rate. Many have said that in heavy action sequences, you will notice a really big lag in the controlling of the game. That personally only happened to be a minute bit at one point in the game that I can remember, so I don’t understand what everyone is talking about. The game really runs quite smooth throughout the entire time, so unless I’m really blind, I didn’t say much of a problem in that regard. It seemed fine to me, and I think many others would feel the same when playing the game for the first time.
Overall, Geist has some great graphics. Just the feelings that you get while in ghost form as you experience the world like we’ve never seen it before is really awesome. Even experiencing the world as a rat, dog, or other animals is really something different and unique for a change. Geist does have its shortcomings with lack of detail in some character models and level design, but in all honesty, they are easy to look past with the entertainment value this game has.
You would think that a game like Geist that has you being a ghost as the main character would have creepy and eerie music right? Well, it isn’t entirely wrong to think that way, but it’s also very incorrect for the most part. A lot of the music in this game seems to have some kind of “military” theme and does a great job of keeping up the pace of the action. This music is normally showcased when you’re either faced with a lot of enemies to take out, or if you’re experiencing a very important part of the game story-wise. It also happens to show up a lot in the multiplayer features of this game, and that’s cool too. But really, if you’ve heard the music in the demo of the game, it is also very much in the final product, and with better sounding quality. If you have a stereo system for your GameCube or tv, you are bound to hear some awesome stuff when this music comes on in the game. It almost sounds like a mixture of techno and rock music, and it’s just plain awesome.
Now there actually are a number of stages in the game where it tends to be a little creepier. It really shouldn’t scare players at all, but just the tone and atmosphere of those stages can really send a chill down your spine. The music for these situations was done incredibly well, as it sounds sort of similar to the typical themes you might hear during horror movies.
You also hear slightly different music when fighting the game’s many bosses. It is very much based on the “military-like” themes that you will tend to hear a lot during the course of the game, but they are sort of redone to be more exciting and fast paced. It’s always nice to feel the adrenaline of fighting a challenging boss, and the music is always there to help the player feel just that.
Geist also features a bit of voice acting. Most of the heavy talking is heard during the game’s cutscenes, and some is heard outside in little chunks. The voice acting in the cutscenes is actually very good, as the voice given to each character really matches the particular personality they portray very well. Raimi will unfortunately never say a word, but it really doesn’t take away from the experience. Most of the people you’ll hear talking are Commander Rourke, Alexander Volks and some other random important employees. It’s a good thing those are the main characters featured with voices too, or else it probably wouldn’t have been very entertaining.
The rest of the voice acting is done through the use of those dreaded one-liners! Not all of them are corny and stupid, but for the most part, they really could’ve just been done without. Any time you are given the chance to talk to a random Volks employee, pretty much all of them will say a random short sentence or fragment to make it seem like they really care to let you know of their feelings. Such things as “Sir…”, “Ma’am…” or “How can I help you?” are what you’ll hear them say the most, and sometimes you can’t help but laugh at how dumb they sound. Although the most enjoyable one to hear even though you’ll hear it quite often is after you kill someone and they say “Aw crap!”
Geist also has some pretty great sound effects. When you’re navigating through the Volks halls as a ghost, the sound you hear sounds just like when ghosts travel through the air in movies that involve the same. It’s sort of like that barely audible wind blowing right next to your body. When you actually possess something, you hear a rather unique sound effect, and it’s really impossible to describe. Just like how the sound of healing yourself in Second Sight is indescribable but VERY cool, so is this one! When you possess a human, it’s rather enjoyable to hear them make a slight “yell” when seemingly trying to resist your takeover. When you possess an animal, you may hear one of their “whimpers” just as you’re doing it, which is heard alongside the humans’ “yelling”.
Finally, we have the weapons. Most of them actually sound very good. Although it is a little strange to hear some of the firing of them seem “muffled” sometimes. But regardless, your pistol sound very good, the automatics sound great and the shotgun just sounds awesome! Really, the only thing that doesn’t sound the greatest is the explosions of the rockets and grenades. For some reason the ending explosion of a rocket or grenade sound an awful lot like flash bang grenades. There’s just really no “boom” sound to them, even though it is very much enjoyable to use them!
So all in all, the music and sounds are really excellent. Sure the one-liners could be stupid and unnecessary and the explosions could’ve sounded a lot more powerful, but other than those things, there is really nothing wrong with the game’s presentation in this regard!
Without a doubt, the gameplay mechanics is the area in which Geist shines the most. The possession and the shooting are coupled so well to drive the already great story that it could be the defining moment of the genre on the GameCube. Possession of people, inanimate objects and animals is always entertaining, and then shooting your enemies in either the main game or multiplayer is always a rush!
In terms of the possession mechanic, it was done incredibly well. When it comes to inanimate objects, you simply have to examine all the lifeless things around you to discover whether anything is vulnerable. This is done by looking for the green “eye icon” that denotes you’re able to view the item’s description. Then if you can indeed possess it, the object will have a red glow around it allowing you to know. These objects include anything from trash bins and fixated lights to laptop computers and turret guns!
When it comes to humans and animals, it’s just a little bit different. To be able to take over a Volks employee or animals contain within their buildings, you have to scare them first. How do you do that? Well, that’s usually through the possessing of inanimate objects! No matter who or what you see, there is always something around a human or animal that you can possess in order to scare them! Whether this means taking over a bowl of dog food to scare a cunning canine or taking over a ladder, fire extinguisher and gas pressure gauge to scare a human, there is always something there! Sometimes it’s not hard at all to scare a human or animal as it only take a little act of fear to make them vulnerable. But some humans take a little more effort to make a little bit on the uneasy side. Like mentioned with the ladder, fire extinguisher and gas pressure gauge, some humans take a few objects acting out of control to be scared than others. It definitely offers a very nice mental challenge on your part since you have to think of how to get the job done, and that just adds to the entertainment value of the possession mechanic.
Another nice thing about possession is the fact that it’s REALLY hard to die or fail in the game. There are only two ways in this game that you can die. One is if you have a required host for a certain stage or stages in the game, and you let that host die, the current mission will fail because you simply need that person to complete your objectives! Another is if you technically “phase” out in ghost form. When you are in that form, you have a bar of “spirit energy”. This is basically how long you can last outside in the actual world before dieing out completely. To prevent this from happening, you can drain the life from the various plants that are distributed throughout the corporation OR take over a living organism. Doing either will replenish your energy a good bit or completely.
That’s just about it for possession, so let’s get to how it’s like to have control of a human or animal. When you take over a human, one of two things will happen immediately. One may be that you actually see a brief flashback of something they were involved with recently that will help you complete one of your core objectives. The other will be that you just immediately see the world from their perspective. Generally when you first take them over, you will see yourself looking at your hands. Then if the particular person has a weapon, you press Y to draw it and hold the button to lower it in a less threatening position.
When your weapon is drawn, the FPS mechanics work similar to the controls of all other popular FPSs on the current market. You use the two sticks for your movement, L to either zoom or crouch, R to fire, Z to reload and a simple tap of Y to reload your weapon!
Now when it comes to animals, it really is awesome how n-Space and Nintendo chose to go about making these perspectives come to life. Now obviously no one really knows how animals perceive this world through their own eyes, but based on all the scientific data available to us, it is just awesome! When you possess a dog, you see some color, but it’s mostly black and white. You can also run incredibly fast and jump just like a real dog does. When possessing a rat, your vision is more in the form of a “tunnel”, it’s completely black and white and also somewhat blurred. You then scurry along like the little rat that you are and can fit into really small holes in the wall! There are other animals in the game that you will be able to possess but we’ll leave that to surprise you!
Then you have your boss fights! Geist is absolutely chock full of them, and you really can count on there being at least one in every mission of the game. Some of the bosses are very clever, but it can be annoying to face the same one later on, just in a mutated form to make them more challenging. That doesn’t take away that each are very fun in their own regard, but it would’ve been nice to see completely different bosses from time to time. You actually have to utilize your possession mechanic nicely to win some of them, and that was a very clever thing to do, rather than just shooting them to death. Another nice thing is that some of the missions that have multiple bosses in them, and having checkpoint completed stages will definitely help so that you don’t have to do everything over again. It works a little bit like Halo in that regard, but there isn’t much similarity to it other than that.
The story really is just driven so well by the possession and FPS mechanics because your core objectives absolutely depend on your being able to utilize them very well. If you can’t keep your hosts alive, you have to be careful because there may not be any others around for you to grab a hold of and you’ll phase out. If you can’t figure out how to scare an organism, you will die out in ghost form. But really, the entertainment is most definitely there, and it’s just plain awesome!
Finally, we have the multiplayer features of Geist! To be totally honest, I feel the multiplayer in this game truly rivals that of the quality of GoldenEye 007. Now that is indeed a bold statement, because people still find the same enjoyment of that years later to this date as they did when the game first released on the Nintendo 64! In Geist, each of the multiplayer modes utilizes the possession and FPS mechanics hand-in-hand very nicely, and different every time! First you have Possession Deathmatch. That is pretty self-explanatory and straightforward. With the possibility of up to four human players and four bots, you go through the map that was chosen and look for available hosts to possess! Each host has a unique weapon, and you can see just what they’re holding to determine whether or not you want to take that one or not.
All the maps in the game are pretty much derived from the main game in some fashion, with a few actually being pretty unique and new altogether. When in the actual fight, you aren’t vulnerable as a ghost to other players’ damage at all, which is a nice thing. But you can still phase out if your spirit meter drains. When you do possess a host and its health is dangerously low, you can actually risk not being killed by dispossessing with the B button and searching for another host. But if your previous host is still eliminated three seconds after you leave it, you still get a negative score towards your kills. There are also various powers ups available if you have them turned on, which can allow you to run faster, jump higher and take over the hosts of other players. There are others, but we’ll let you witness them first.
The second mode is Capture the Host! This works somewhat similar along the lines of capture the flag or king of the hill, but it’s still quite a bit different. The object of this mode is to possess any of the available hosts in the map, and take them to a designated point that will score you points upon their dispossessing of them! Each host will score you one point, and you can actually score more if you kill other possessed hosts in the battle before you actually take yours to the designated point!
Finally you have the Hunt. This is probably the most unique multiplayer mode to ever grace a game to date, and it’s thoroughly invigorating! In this mode, some players are ghosts and some players are already soldiers. The soldiers actually have anti-spirit weapons equipped, and the ghosts are there to do nothing but stir up some trouble! What is the main goal of this mode? For the ghosts it’s to kill the soldiers by possessing them and pulling them into the map’s death traps, and for the soldiers to eliminate the ghosts by shooting them with their weapons! This mode is particularly more difficult for the soldiers since it’s tough to actually hit the ghosts, so it’s always more entertaining to actually control the ghosts!
So all in all, the gameplay of Geist is truly something else in overall quality! The only thing that really suffers is the somewhat shortness of the game’s main story. It can probably last a maximum of 25 hours or so depending on how much you’re wanting to unlock all the hidden goodies. But really, the possession and FPS mechanics utilized in both the main story and the multiplayer matches always have entertainment value, and it’s something different which makes it awesome!
The ending of Geist is pretty good. The final boss is actually pretty tough if you can’t figure out what to do, but once you do, the battle is very cool. How the whole thing actually plays out is really the best part of it, because it’s not your average run-of-the-mill final boss fight. It’s almost like a something along the lines of a cross between Final Fantasy and the Twilight Zone. It’s just plain weird, but also very cool!
The ending cutscene is also pretty sweet, it will give a nice ending to the game’s main story between the two people that you encounter a lot in the game, and it also leaves a bit open at the end. Someone that you don’t expect to see at the end actually comes to rescue you, along with someone that you actually took control of at some point in the game! What is exchanged in the dialogue can leave you to believe that a sequel could easily be made, so let’s hope that remains to be true!
Geist has some excellent replay value without a doubt. The single player story is very well told, and experiencing it again at least once is almost a must. Then you have the hidden host and ghost collectibles which unlock multiplayer features and extend your spirit meter respectively. But it’s probably not likely that you’ll find every single one of those in each mission, so you should be motivated to go back and find them if you want to experience everything the game has to offer! The gameplay makes the story very fun, and you really just can’t get enough of possessing the things that you can!
Then you have the multiplayer. Like stated before, it truly rivals that of the quality of GoldenEye 007. Hours upon hours of fun are in store for those that wish to partake in it, and that is no joke. Just how fun it is to play with three of your friends or all computer bots will make you come back to it time and time again. Each mode has something fresh and unique to offer, so it’s really a no-brainer to want to participate in it whenever you darn well can! If you want an exclusive game for the GameCube that you are bound to want to play months down the road, Geist is most definitely it!
Geist is without a doubt one of the most unique titles from Nintendo to grace their console since it was launched. Nowhere else can you see a game like this, as it is one awesome game. Sure the graphics aren’t the best presentation in the world, and the one-liner dialogue can be rather drab at times, but when looking at those minor flaws and comparing them to the greater aspects of the game, they aren’t exactly detrimental to the overall experience. Your life as a ghost is incredibly unique, and the FPS mechanics will easily quench the thirst of all gun lovers that enjoy shooting ’em up in videogames! Do you want an “out-of-body” experience that will most likely give you thrills from the second you begin playing to the very end? Well then, Geist is your game. The single player story is great, while being a little short, but that time inadequacy is more than easily made up with an incredible multiplayer that will have you coming back to the game months to years down the road!