Ghost Rider Review (PS2)

Johnny Blaze starts the Ghost Rider game escaping from hell itself, which would probably be preferential than stomaching this rather tame movie tie-in throughout its entirety.

The single greatest problem, and this is a title fraught with many, with Ghost Rider is the fact the game itself isnít en-tirely sure who itís trying to cater to. Does it want to be God Of War? Much of it seems like a direct copy, from the identical chain flailing moves to the timed button pushing sequences. It even goes so far as to imitate the iconic Ďslow-downí effect that God of War used to well. Does it want to be a rock-hard action title akin to Devil May Cry? Itís got the same skill levelling system, and combo rating meter and, yes, sometimes it feels like it, but Ghost Rider is too busy trying to appeal to the mass market, which results in a game where the difficulty bar has been put so low that it wouldnít be surprising if you could complete it in your sleep.

Bigger monsters aren't nearly as hard to kill as they look Contrary to the developers intentions, the game does sometimes appear pretty cool

The developers likely spent most of their time seeing which genre they could most effectively attempt to knock off to spawn this painfully derivative action romp. After deciding that a mix of God of War and Devil May Cry would be the most fitting, they quickly got to work. And thatís all Ghost Rider is, really: a freakish amalgamation of various bits of current popular action games, crudely stitched together to create a rather ghastly abomination. Thereís always the lin-gering feeling that with proper development time that this game could have actually been something had it not been rushed out to coincide with the release of the movie. Then you realise that God of War came out years ago and God of War II is coming out very soon so you might as well just play those instead.

The game is split into two segments. First, youíve got the action levels. You run around, you attack things, you bask in a sense of self-satisfaction when they die. Simple. Youíve got your weak attacks, which usually make use of Ghost Riderís chain, and your stronger attacks, which generally involve fists. Chain these together to create combos for maximum effect. Job done. When you defeat enemies, you gather their soul energy which creates the games currency, and you can exchange this energy for more powerful combos. Then youíve got the other part of the game, where youíll be driving around on Ghost Riderís suitably gothic motorcycle in what, at times, feels like a modern update of Road Rash. Youíll fire projectiles and flail your chains about a bit to take out enemies and perform twitch-based jump and sliding sections to dodge obstacles. Neither of these modes are particularly fun, however, as much of the game has been so hastily and clumsily assembled. The hardest part about actually playing Ghost Rider, you see, is the camera. Itís fixed. Which leads into any number of fiddly, view-restricted problems. The right analog stick makes Ghost Rider leap out of the way of attacks, only youíre more than likely to end up smack bang in the middle of another group of enemies that will start attacking you instead. Projectiles and other nasty things will appear on the screen much too late, leaving the player with few options other than sitting back and watch them fly straight into you, whilst you curse the people who decided that releasing the game in this state was acceptable.

God of War: Leather-Clad Flaming Skull Edition There should really be some blades on the end of these chains

Yet, itís still far too easy. As you progress, youíll get pitted against hulking monsters who unleash big, nearly unblock-able attacks and require you to power up your combo meter to break their shields. On paper, itís easy to accomplish: keep attacking targets without taking damage yourself. But, then, the camera does its best to make that as unnecessarily complicated for you as it possibly can. And it does that job very well. It just comes across as a cheap way of extending a title thatís far too short. Even worse, youíll often be forced to play the motorcycle levels twice - once forwards, once back - so the developers can pretend theyíve spent a long time working on a diverse an interesting set of levels. You know, instead of what theyíve actually done: cheekily copied and pasted a level to save themselves from having to do real work. Much of the game design has been done with minimal effort. Take the enemy design: thereís only a handful of different enemy types in the entire game, and their designs get recycled every time you enter a new area. This isnít enough to stop repetition and drudgery quickly sinking in, as you plod through the zones dispatching them with the same simplistic yet effective combo every single time. Repetitive enemy types worked fine in God of War and Devil May Cry, though, because those games could rely on their tough action sequences and exquisitely crafted atmosphere. To put it bluntly, those games knew what they wanted to be and are all the better for it. Ghost Rider just feels lost.

The story is penned by Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti, which is supposedly a big deal because theyíre actually real comic book writers. The game deserves some credit for attempting an extension of the story set by the movie rather than being a simple rehash and, to be fair, itís not that bad a fare. Itís nothing particularly inspiring, however, feeling more like a plot that was quickly concocted from ideas that were just simply not good enough to be used in the comics. Entirely forgettable and wholly unnecessary, hence why thereís no real need to even go into detail about it. All you need to know is that it gives you an excuse to ride your motorcycle and attack the forces of evil.

It's supposed to be terrifying, but it really isn't This game isn't nearly as fun as this screen makes it look

In all honestly, Ghost Rider isnít that bad. It would be cruel to say that there havenít been worse attempts than this, and thereís always a lingering feeling that this might not actually be that bad a game if it wasnít so painfully easy, clocking in at about five meagre hours of tiresome, repetition. Ghost Rider attempts to accomplish too much in too limited a timeframe, wanting to appeal to devout action game fanatics and everyday gamers, ending up with a product that will be ignored by both. By stripping the game of any potential challenge, youíll be able to play most of this game on autopilot, leaving your brain with plenty of time to focus the lousy, uninspired settings, weak character design and monotonous gameplay.

Top Game Moment:
Occasionally, and only very occasionally, various elements in the game randomly align and give you a glimpse of what this game could have accomplished but didnít.

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