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Geist

Developer: n-Space | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: 08/15/05

I've been getting bored of First Person Shooters over the past few years, so when Geist made its debut at E3 2003, I didn't pay much attention. I didn't give it much of a fair shot at E3 2004 either. So this year, I figured that I couldn't just pass it over without giving the E3 demo a good look.

The improved graphics was easily the first thing I noticed. Even so, I wouldn't say that Geist looked impressive, just good. There were some areas of the demo that suffered from slowdown. Hopefully this can be eliminated by the time Geist is ready for release.

You're probably already aware of the main concept behind Geist. You play as ghost who is capable of possessing others to gain new abilities. It all starts when some type of government soldiers are sent to investigate strange happenings at a Volks Corporation facility. Taking the role of John Raimi, players explore the compound until they are attacked by Volks security forces. A gun battle ensues, but in the end, Raimi is captured. He later awakes to discover that he's a ghost. This is actually sci-fi twist rather than a horror story though. The scientists at Volks have invented a machine that can separate the spirit from the body, and Raimi was an unwilling test subject. Playing as Raimi, your main motivation is to find your body and dismantle the schemes of the Volks Corporation. It looks like the story presentation will be an important part of the game. There are lots of dialogue and cinemas draw you into the experience.

After awakening as a ghost, you're transported into a sort of dream world created by Volks scientists. The surreal landscape is covered with healthy green grass, trees, and flowers under a bright blue sky. It's here you're trained to use your ghostly powers. Geist makes use of a context sensitive action button. By targeting a nearby object, the reticule will change to indicate what type of action you can perform. As a ghost you can float about and possess humans, animals, and inanimate objects. In order to possess animals and humans, the victim must be frightened. An indicator will change from green to red to indicate that a target has been psychologically weakened enough to be possessed. This is where a little bit of thinking is needed. You'll have to possess inanimate objects and use them to scare your victims. For instance, you can possess light bulbs and make them flicker, or in a particular instance, you can possess a food bowl and then scare a dog by launching pieces of dog food at it. You can also drain energy from plants. This is necessary because during ghost form (when you are not currently possessing something), you will constantly lose energy. As the training ends, something goes wrong. That's fortunate for Raimi as it allows him to escape from the secret lab where his spirit was being held.

No ghost story is complete without a creepy ghost girl. Raimi will eventually meet the spirit of a small girl named Gigi. I'm not sure how she figures into the overall plot, but she'll appear throughout the game to help Raimi and show him how to use his powers. For instance, in the demo, she shows Raimi how to slip through small cracks in doors and walls.

Like most First Person Shooters, Geist is mission based. The thing I like about Geist is that there is much more than shooting required to complete a level. You'll have to figure out how to use your possession capabilities to progress through the facility. Possessing inanimate objects is not just used for scaring people and animals. You can also possess computers, security cameras, keypads, and more in order to gain valuable information. The different kinds of people you can possess are important too. You can possess security guards and use their weapons to kill whatever stands in your way. From the looks of some screenshots some alien or monster creatures figure into the plot somehow. So you'll definitely need to fight these off in addition to Volks security. Some levels will be all about shooting and action. However, some levels will have a lot of puzzle solving to do. For instance, possessing a Volks engineer is going to give you access to certain rooms and machines that you wouldn't have access to otherwise.

Overall, I'd say the E3 demo of Geist grabbed my interest. It's looks to have some great gameplay variety for a First Person Shooter. The game will also feature splitscreen multiplayer that will make use of the ghostly powers somehow. This wasn't in the demo, so I'm not sure how it will work or how many different modes there will be. The game was originally scheduled to launch at the end of June, but Nintendo just delayed it to August. I'm not sure what to make of such a drastic delay so close to its original release date. Hopefully the two extra months will be used to remove the slowdown and really make sure nothing technical hinders the gameplay. Geist has some interesting potential. It went from a game I almost passed over to a summer game that I'm really looking forward to.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 06/08/05
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Violence
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Screenshots for Geist

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