Geist (GameCube)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (989)
Written on  :  Aug 24, 2006
Rating  :  3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars
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Fun, but not without its flaws

The Good

Let’s face it. Geist got really mediocre reviews from almost everyone. Some of them were pretty brutal. I remember particularly one review in Game Informer Magazine being particularly strict on it.

Given the mediocre reviews of it, I would have never gotten my hands on Geist if it weren’t for my good friend, Randy. Randy had been waiting for this for months, and it just kept getting delayed. It finally came out…and damn he wouldn’t put it down. Well…if it weren’t for him, I would’ve read the magazine, and would have never laid hands on the game. And it just so happens that I found an excellent deal for the game at, of all places, Toys R’ Us. I nabbed the game for a mere $10.

Geist has something that really appeals to me: innovation. It tried pushing new borders with a concept that I am surprised hasn’t been exploited yet. In Geist, you are the ghost. Remember all of the games where you had to walk down that dark corridor, water dripping from the ceiling, scared for your life of the ghost that inhabited the facility? Well now YOU get to finally reverse the sides and you’re that poltergeist that’s making the inhabitants of the compound cower in fear.

Geist is a mixture of puzzle and FPS. The puzzle side of the game is a clever mixture of possessing objects, scaring people, and manipulating the environment to do what you want. The puzzles in the game are absolutely ingenious. They may take you a lot of time, but are all around, lots of fun to do. In order to possess a living thing, you must first scare it, which is a puzzle in itself. You need to pay close attention to your environment to see what you can and cannot use to scare the creature. This makes puzzles interesting, since it requires you to think about what you have the ability to do in your different forms to get to your goal. For example, you will need to use a box of food scare a group of rats. You then need to possess the rats, and carefully avoid a maze of mouse traps set up for you. With the mouse you can enter a small hole next to a locked door. The moue will make the dog bark, which will make the dog keeper come over…and well, you get the idea. Puzzles like this can go on for a long time. The best part is that they’re a lot of fun to do, just seeing what you can do. It is most likely the highlight of this game.

On the action side, the use of dispossession and possession can be a lot of fun during battle. When you dispossess, the world around you slows down, allowing you to view the battlefield, spy on enemies waiting in ambush, or even possess a turret. Hell, you can even possess the rockets the enemies shoot out of their guns! You can dispossess your body for a bit of fun too. Try and watch two guards fly from an explosion in slow motion. The experience is priceless.

The story is incredibly intriguing and will keep you quite interested. Volks Corp., a weapons making company in Southern France, has recently begun bizarre experiments. After your investigation mission goes wrong, you become one of those experiments. The story and motivations behind Volks’ experiments are clever and fascinating. I will say this, that Geist has one of the most original plots for an FPS that I have seen. Like a solid game, the plot unfold as it goes, and pushes the game along nicely, so that the story is refreshed often to keep you wanting to see what happens next. The characters are also well-developed. Almost all of the characters feel well-rounded, with both strengths and flaws. Even the antagonist shows plenty of emotion and sadness. The characters also have a nice feel of vividness about them, which distracts from the sometimes bland and depressing environments. The antagonist easily has to be my favorite character from the game because of his excellent display of emotion, strength, and good dialogue. The overall dark and moody feel mixes well with the sometimes goofy game play and dialogue that is in between the major plot points. However the dark plot and creepy atmosphere do well to make this story suspenseful and intriguing.

The multiplayer succeeds in holding your attention for a while. With capabilities of up to four players, possessing and killing each other is a ball. You can play with 1-4 players, or with up to 7 bots. You can even have 4 players vs. 4 bots in multiplayer! There’s your basic mode where you start as a ghost and can possess humans to attack others, or you can possess items like exploding crates, guns, missiles, and even other players if you have the ability. This mode is good for basic shootouts, but is still a lot of fun. Multiplayer matches often get hectic and frantic, for some great shootouts and lots of laughs. Another mode (I forget the name) is where one team must play as humans, and another as ghosts. The ghosts must possess the humans, and move their bodies to death traps around the area like spike pits, fans, electrical wires, or furnaces. The humans must avoid the ghosts, and when they get trapped must struggle against the ghosts to survive. This mode mixes the game play up a lot and is great because it’s a challenge. Playing as both teams is hard, because the bots are quite hard to beat. The last mode is not all that fun, so I will not mention it anyway. All around it is a blast to play, and by Gamecube’s standards the multiplayer for Geist is if not well-polished, just a lot of fun.

The Bad

By far the worst part of this game is its terrible use of old technology and all around outdated feeling. The graphics look and feel extinct. The lack of polish this game has practically comes through to you out of the TV screen.

For one, the action parts of the game lack any bit of grandeur. To put it simply, the shooting sections come as close to generic as generic can get. At its core, this game is just a big repetition of run-shoot-run-shoot. For one, the lack of enemy AI is apparent throughout most of the game. There is very little strategy involved at all within shootouts. Enemies use the same straight line rush that failed them back in the days of Doom. While a portion of these battles are fun, the majority of them aren’t. Some of them are actually just downright terrible. The novelty of being able to view a battle when you dispossess your body gets old after a while. The typical situation in Geist would be run and shoot, with some bit of possessions in the middle. Boss battles are often repetitive and tiring, and end up exhausting their interest before the battle is half over.

The graphics suffer from the same ailment. The lack of good graphics adds on to the fact that the environments for the game are simply bland and boring. The environments for the game are most often a dull palette of gray for indoors and yellow for outdoors. Almost all of the levels feel dark and uninspiring. In multiplayer the graphics even hamper the gameplay, with fuzzy resolutions making seeing the tiny four player screens quite hard to play with. The combat environments are almost entirely too linear and don’t allow for any room to find alternate paths or even some differentiation.

That brings me to my next point of how terribly low the replay value for the game is. For one, the puzzles for possession are entirely scripted. The problem with the concept of possession and ghosts is that it’s hard to maintain belief that you’re ghost when you can only possess a select amount of objects that the programmers selected for you. After going through the game, you begin to wonder. Why can I possess this can of paint but not this other one that looks exactly like it? If I am a ghost why can’t I just pass through the walls altogether? Besides that, puzzles only have one solution, which takes the fun out of replaying the game. The first time its fun to figure out what objects you need to find to get to the next area. The second time its so boring because you already know how to do it. The low replay value of the game is a definite deciding point when it comes to buying the game.

The Bottom Line

Geist is sort of like subliminal messaging. You really like the finished product, but really aren’t sure why. Geist certainly looks and feels outdated, but it still allows you to have a lot of fun. It has a fun, but not to overly complicated storyline, some good characters, and great atmosphere. The puzzles are fun and will definitely keep you interested. Unfortunately, the linear one player game and the lackluster FPS sections really bring down the replay value. The outdated feel is outrageously apparent in this game.

I think Geist gets extra points for doing something that no other games do. It tried to bring a new concept to the table. I’m not sure if the game did that well, but it opened up the idea to other companies, and I think that’s more worth it. After all, who knows if we see more games coming out like this? The FPS genre is cramped with WWII shooters and there really isn’t enough creativity flowing through it. It’s quite refreshing seeing a game trying to break the mold.

The linearity of the puzzles and the generic shooting sections really limit this game’s replay value. As a single-player game, this is a one-time play through. The multiplayer is a hell of a lot of fun, but it has limited options so it does not justify a high price. I would recommend renting the game. It allows you one play through of the game, and if you’ve got friends to play with then it gives you a great chance to enjoy a bit of the multiplayer. Its no Half Life 2, but is still fun nonetheless and deserves to be played by the gamer who is looking for a bit more than shooting Nazis in his FPS games.

Buyworthy: Anything more than $20 is too much for this game.
Rentworthy Recommended first.