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Posted on Jun 21, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Ghost Rider Review

By Jamison Lanum

Passed Basic: A great wealth of unlockables. Addition of a challenge and multiplayer mode not found in the PS2 version

Failed Inspection: Bleak visuals, tedious gameplay, broken camera, unimpressive sound, disappointing story. The list goes on and on…

With more and more publishers worried about pumping out games, it is very easy to see how a game like Ghost Rider can come about. Whether players enjoyed the movie starring Nicholas Cage or not is irrelevant. Any positive connotations the movie gives will quickly be stomped out when players realize Ghost Rider on the PSP is a tedious beat em’ up that quickly bores within the first thirty minutes.

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The story, which differs little from the movie, is disappointing at best; especially considering the fact that two comic industry veterans, Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti, wrote the storyline. It has Johnny Blaze, America’s favorite pyromaniac, choosing whether to destroy Mephisto’s son Blackheart and his gang, or have his girlfriend Roxanne dragged into Hell! There are a few cameos made by other Marvel heroes, but you can’t shake the notion that they’ve been thrown into the game for good marketing rather than addition to the story. On a good note, the story is presented in a series of comic book panels, which is done rather well.

Ghost Rider‘s core gameplay consists of the player traveling through linear levels, often backtracking, while clearing room after room of demonic forces with the same combo or two over and over. The single-player experience itself can be finished in less than five hours no matter the skill level. The developers have basically taken Kratos’ chain attack combo set and unlocking system, and have half-heartedly implemented them in the combat engine. Although at first players start out with a few weak combos that deal out meager damage, they will quickly gain the most valuable combos early on by downing enemies and collecting their souls. With the most powerful combo acquired early on it leaves the player with nothing really to work for except some digital comic books that can be read on the go. As the player fills up their spirit gauge their damage increases and they are given the ability to perform the Penance Stare. Filling up a separate meter, the Vengeance meter, allows players to gather more souls from each downed enemy.

One thing players will quickly notice is that varying Blaze’s attacks fills up the attack meter, and in some cases the only way to down a certain enemy type is to fill that meter and perform a special attack. There are also sequences where players will get to ride the Hell Cycle, but the whole experience is underwhelming and the poor controls will frustrate many players. The player must drive the loosely controlled Hell Cycle while making their way from point A to point B, all the while ducking and dodging a few obstacles here and there, and attacking whatever opponents come their way.

Unlike the PS2 version, Ghost Rider on the PSP includes a challenge mode that offers a few race variations that can be enjoyed briefly, like the survival and elimination races. Looks good on the surface, but dig a little deeper and players will find it’s just the same boring racing found in the single-player campaign. Of particular note is the fact that the A.I. seems to gang up on the player while completely ignoring the other bot riders. Additionally, a multiplayer mode not found on the PS2 version offers the option of playing with multiple copies of the game and even allows game sharing. It supports up to four players, and features the same races in the challenge.

Other complaints include the rather shady camera system that allows enemies to appear off screen and get in a few cheap shots. This can be very maddening when attempting to fill up the Vengeance meter as one hit restarts it. The graphics are very bleak and enemies never really change up their attacks, which definitely doesn’t help the monotonous gameplay. The sound has its strong moments, like Blaze’s shotgun blast and demon screeches but neither are enough to save Ghost Rider from mediocrity.

While the game does try to make up for its blunders in the form of unlockables it just can’t balance the linear levels, monotonous gameplay, and other small nuances that compound and exasperate every other flaw in the game. Ghost Rider may be considered by die-hard fans of the universe but casual players would be better leaving this on the shelves.

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1 Comment

  1. This game has indeed been critiqued harshly, but I think it looks like a fun game either way and very fast paced with some cool weapon commands.

    I HYPED Ghost Rider on EverHYPE and scored it 84%, which I think is very accurate.

    http://www.everhype.com/hyper/mikeborgia?X=G337

    If you get on there rate me a 5 on it and request friendship.

    Ghost Rider Hype

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