Geist

Review

posted 11/8/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
One Page Platforms: GC
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 him.

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 in Geist, 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 egg.

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 is 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.
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