Preview: Geist (Nintendo Gamecube)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: n-Space. / Genre: First Person Shooter / Release: 05-23-05

Maybe you don’t believe in ghosts, but your GameCube does. Nintendo has a new style of FPS action on the roster for May 2005. Geist, true to its German namesake, is all about ghosts. Specifically one ghost with murder on his mind, and you’re the one in control.

In a lot of ways you’ve got your traditional FPS with guns and bullets and stupid guards that you need to get out of your way. The catch? You can posses the guards to maneuver your way through the compound. Not only are the bodies of humans an addition to your playground but you can possess dogs, mice, fire extinguishers and even computers. Each thing that you possess will play an integral part of moving you on the next step to the next level. In a lot of ways, this game strays from your typical action and concentrates on a little more critical thinking than usual.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re a ghost and it’s a pretty difficult to kill someone without a body. What is the point of this game again? While there are certain obstacles in moving about the physical world, there are challenges on the spiritual side of things as well. Apparently there are other haunts in the area that don’t appreciate you being there and will try to hamper you progress. The good news is that once they’re overcome you gain more power from each spirit’s defeat. (Can you say, “There can be only one?”) The actual objective of the game is to recover your character’s captive physical body. It sounds a little strange, but once you get into the game it makes perfect sense.

The controls differ depending on what object you possess. In one instance you could possess a dog’s food bowl. Your options are to rattle to bowl and scare the dog or to dispossess the bowl. Possession of a gun turret allows you to fire at will. If you possess a human it gets a little more complex because their arsenal becomes yours. You’re also more than welcome to get a little trigger happy or unlock one of those pesky doors. Although why you need to unlock a door when a ghost would normally blow right through it is beyond me.

There has been some thought about the graphics of the game. Each time you possess an object, it goes as far as performing a little cut scene to show the “event.” The perspective also changes when you posses a person/object. While in the spiritual world, the screen will look hazy but as soon as you transfer yourself into the physical world you gain the object’s sight. Living as a box has got to be a life of thrills, boy, howdy, let me tell you.

Ah… Let me not forget multiplayer mode. Geist will play up to four players on split-screen in multi-player mode. Whether you choose to be a spirit or a guard, you get to compete with your friends. Since the GameCube doesn’t have any type of online support you’re restricted to how many sweaty gamers you can crowd into a room to play multi-player. Hopefully you won’t be crowding any sweaty gamers into a room and will stick to your more hygienic friends.

As far as creativity, I think that Geist has a pretty unique concept. It’s not your typical shooter game because of the whole “possession” thing. The real test will be in how well it plays.