It’s been several years since Nintendo announced their partnership with
N-Space, and the shooter that would be the fruit of that union. Geist
has built up a lot of hype in that time, first because it’s a grisly
FPS that the GameCube desperately needs and secondly because it
promised a unique twist on the genre. Well, it’s finally here and I
have to report that it’s met most expectations. Geist
is certainly a new take on the FPS, and while it has a few shortcomings it’s an experience that no Cube owner should pass up.
The main concept behind Geist
is in its name, the German word for ghost. N-Space took the age old
idea of a phantasm haunting the corridors, put the player in the
perspective of the ghost and set the whole scenario in a gritty sci-fi
setting. Players take on the role of John Raimi, a biologist assigned
to the government infiltration team CR-2. Raimi’s college buddy turned
secret agent Thomas Bryson is undercover at the monolithic Volks
Corporation, a research conglomerate based at an undisclosed location
in Southern France.
CR-2 is sent into the Volks facility to
hook up with Bryson and extract him and the information he’s gathered.
Once Raimi and the team get in, things turn pear shaped and the real
story begins. After being supposedly killed, Raimi’s “soul” is
extracted from his physical body, leaving him a wandering ghoul.
Luckily, a fellow ghost in the image of a little girl comes to guide
The first mission, the infiltration, plays out like a typical shooter.
Shoot at bad guys, press switches, dodge, duck, dip, dive and...dodge.
Anyway, you’ll be shot, hauled off to the experiment chamber, ripped
from your fleshy shell of a body and thrown into what Nintendo was
promising: a truly innovative and fresh way to play an FPS. While the
fundamental concept behind almost every shooter so far has been to
hoard ammo and guns, Geist
does away with all that. The new object of the game is possession.
Numerous everyday items are all inhabitable, from a lethal auto-turret
to an absently placed stepladder. While the latter doesn’t sound very
dangerous (ha, I made a funny!), it and numerous other nondescript
objects play an important role in possessing the many NPC’s in the
game. Objects are readily available to jump into, but people take some
psychological weakening before you can take control of their minds and
bodies. And so the common household items become instruments in
frightening the bejesus out of hapless guards and base personnel.
This is also where the game’s puzzles come into play. You’ll often find
you need to set of a chain of paranormal events to make an enemy shake
in their boots. Startling a scientist with flying soda cans will turn
his surrounding aura yellow (as a ghost you can see supernatural things
like auras), and then turning water in a bathroom sink blood red will
finally freak the guy out enough that his aura is red. I don’t want to
spoil anything, but there are some pretty interesting things to possess
and you won’t always be taking over people. A hint to Metroid fans:
after invading the women’s locker room, look for a cool Samus easter
Once in a body, you won’t plow through the whole game
doom-marine style. You’ll certainly engage in heated firefights, but
most of Geist
spent jumping from host to host, leaving some behind when they are no
longer useful in search of a host with the right key or weapon. You
can’t just wander endlessly, though. Raimi’s spirit is being constantly
drawn toward the afterlife, as represented by a depleting red spiritual
energy bar. Spend too much time outside of a host or item and it’s off
to the pearly gates for Raimi, and then he’ll never accomplish his
mission of retrieving his body and stopping Volks.
Page 1 of 3