E3 2004 housed this interesting shooter, nestled between the more high profile Resident Evil 4 and Starfox, but there’s plenty of potential here for greatness.
New hardware always means one thing: new genres. The PC birthed Wolfenstein and Doom, but more gamers today are familiar with Goldeneye and Halo, two console-based shooters that will forever be regarded as near perfect. They both took an established idea and turned it on its head, and thus they will live on with fond memories. But now we’ve seen almost everything the first-person shooter can offer, yes? Instead of collecting keys we’re either part of a squad or have to complete a set of objectives, right? Is there anything left for us to experience?
Nintendo and n-Space certainly hope so. Geist, their new FPS, looks to offer some unique ideas and, hopefully, add some spice to a crowded, occasionally overdone genre. Instead of controlling a well-trained killing machine you take on the role of a spirit, one that can possess any number of things. This allows for multiple points of view as well as specific skills and attributes, all without swapping characters.
By jumping from host to host you can gain access to areas unavailable to other characters. This effectively makes Geist a problem-solving excursion fused with, after a little more work, some solid shooting action.
Now, you are no ordinary ghost. You’re able to interact with machines and other items lying about, though there didn’t seem to be a strict code as to what can and cannot be possessed. Commandeering a machine causes it to malfunction, which serves to spook the militant officers making their rounds. You can only possess someone who’s afraid; confident enemies aren’t so easily swayed.
Another interesting element in Geist is the need to have a host. As an ethereal being, you need a physical body to occupy. Spend too much time floating around searching for one and you’ll, well, die – again – or whatever it is ghosts do. So you can’t just toss bodies around with hasty abandon, you have to consider it your own, and protect it until you find a more useful vessel.
The demo at E3 seemed to weigh more heavily on changing host bodies rather than shooting and killing. It had players possessing and controlling security cameras, dogs and various personnel. Some scientists have access to high security areas, some don’t. Some guards are armed, some aren’t. It’s a nice mix of thinking and shooting but, sadly, the latter is more of what we’ve already played. Once the coolness of being a specter dissipates, you’re left with yet another shooter in need of a hook. The ghost aspect comes close, but it needs something more to really get people excited.
E3’s playable version began with a locked door guarded by two sentries. Possessing one of them allows you to delve deeper into the base (the identity of which wasn’t clear at the time; E3 is full of distractions). Once inside you have to possess and detonate several crates, clearing the passageways of possible enemies. Eventually, you’ll control a scientist with a nail gun, at which point you have to play a little