Geist

Review

posted 11/8/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
One Page Platforms: GC
This limitation keeps things fresh and simultaneously prevents Geist from falling into the dreaded shooter tedium of corridor roaming. You’re constantly on the lookout for the next inhabitable host. Geist is like its cousin Metroid Prime in that it’s a first person adventure, thought not to the extent of Prime. Geist is level based, but each stage is its own little adventure with plenty of puzzles, tricks, mini-boss fights and secret collectibles.

Along the way you’ll encounter the average FPS cannon fodder guards, bizarre creatures from the rift to the sprit world, and some sufficiently pretty graphics. Geist’s visual style is comparable to that of the TimeSplitters series; it won’t beat you over the head with beauty like Half-Life 2 and the technology is far from cutting edge, but it’s the little things that count.

Details in the world make Geist more plausible, like the way you actually see a host reach out and push a button to call an elevator. Every character has a distinct appearance like the ones in Free Radical’s parody shooters, though not nearly as cartoony or comical as Sgt. Cortez and friends. Textures aren’t as detailed or high-res as they could’ve been, but they were probably kept simple to balance out the framerate.

I’ve heard numerous complaints about the framerate, but I don’t see it as a major problem. It never bogs down completely, and the most I saw were some stutters when there were a lot of enemies on the screen. I personally don’t consider it a huge issue, and it certainly shouldn’t make you think twice about buying this predominantly great game.

The sound is a real treat for the ears, if only a morsel. You’ve heard most of the sound effects before, but that doesn’t diminish their effectiveness. Voice acting is all very professional for a title of this nature, although there isn’t enough of it. Cutscenes are fully voiced, but talking to characters in the word is like playing Zelda; you’ll get a word or two accompanied by a text box. Admittedly, adding dialogue for all the text would’ve probably required a second disk, but it’s a minor gripe nonetheless. Music is much like the voice work. There is a collection of really great tunes to accompany the action sequences and some creepy sneaking-around pieces for exploration, but the final number of tracks is rather short. You’ll be grooving to the hectic and well-scored battle music, which reminds me a little of Perfect Dark, but the music ultimately needs more variety. This issue is most noticeable in multiplayer, where the list of levels is longer than that of the music tracks.

Speaking of multiplayer, I’ve rarely been so pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a churn-out, because somewhere in the Ten Commandments it says that “thou shalt put a multiplayer in all shooters.” I think it’s the seventh commandment. But I digress. N-Space put a good amount of effort into the multi aspect of Geist, and for a split-screen affair it isn’t bad. I expected the possession aspect to be clumsily tacked on, or worse totally omitted, but it is actually well integrated.

There are only three modes to choose from, but the ghost scenario makes them all feel like new. Possession deathmatch is the most conventional; there are idle hosts scattered throughout the level, and all the players start at ghosts. You can then float around inspecting the hosts, checking out what guns they have, and make your choice. A bevy of powerups is also available, from jump and speed boosts to the “hijack” pickup. Hijack is especially fun. After grabbing this one as a ghost, it lets you kick a fellow player out of their host and steal him. So, if your friend has the rocket-launcher guy, you can piss him off buy snatching his host right from under him.
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