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Geist’ a spooky, albeit mediocre time

Brian Doxtader | Tuesday, September 27, 2005

For further proof that the first-person shooter is starting to run out of ideas, look no further than “Geist,” a truly bizarre action/adventure game exclusively for Nintendo Gamecube. The game’s premise involves a disembodied scientist who has the ability to inhabit other people, animals and objects.

The player takes control of John Raimi, a spirit ripped from his body by the evil Volks corporation. Aside from taking control of Volks soldiers (during which time the game devolves into a simple first-person shooter), there are also several puzzles in which the player takes control of inanimate articles in order to complete objectives. Thankfully, there is the ghost of a little girl who helps guide the player through the tougher situations, though there is still a fair amount of wandering aimlessly confused.

If all this sounds kind of creepy and strange, it is. It really is. Few games are as downright weird as “Geist.” Hearing the disembodied voice of the little girl coo “Raimi” in her sing-song voice is enough to cause more than just a few shudders. Yet, the game manages to work the spirit aspect into the narrative and play more efficiently than might be expected.

“Geist” breaks no new narrative or gameplay ground, though there are several nice references (“Aliens,” “The Thing,” “Poltergeist”) throughout the game and it has its share of scary moments. The plot, which revolves around an unethical bio-corporation, is nothing new, but is compelling enough to keep players interested.

Gameplay is solid and the controls are standard, but it is the game’s ghostly twist that keeps it afloat. The ability to leave the character being controlled and explore as a spirit is interesting, and the developers put enough use of the device into the game that it works well, for the most part.

The graphics and sound are quite good. The spirit aspect allows for some flashy transparency and slow-down effects. These effects seem an integral and logical part of gameplay rather than just merely for showcasing special effects.

There is also a multi-player mode, which is pretty similar to most multi-player modes in games in the first person shooter genre. All of them incorporate the spirit entity device, which is good since the first-person shooter aspect is really nothing special.

There are better games and better first-person shooters out there, but “Geist” has enough innovativeness to make it stand out from the crowd. Though the single-player mode runs a little short in length, the multi-player mode is good, and then game itself is fun and suitably creepy. For those looking for a slightly more adult-oriented, Mature-rated Gamecube title, “Geist” fills the first-person niche adequately.