key review info
- Game: Ghost Rider
- Platform: Playstation
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Yeah, you might have got the drift from the subtitle: we're dealing with a rip-off. And what makes it worse, it copies one of the greatest games ever developed for the PS2 consoles: God of War 2. 2K Games hurried to buy lots of licenses for this title, so there are even some original Ghost Rider comics to unlock after completing the arduous task of playing a 3-hours gameplay. The movie was pretty talked about and it didn't manage to deliver what it promised in the trailers. Imagine that the game is worse than the movie... Need cheats? We provide them for you here!
It's just another one of those Marvel heroes, but this time we're dealing with a superhero that is pretty hard to label as a good or bad guy. Since he's made a pact with the devil and he's on a first name basis with the diabolical Mephisto, we can't really tell. Johny Blaze is in fact the famous Ghost Rider and he became the vengeful creature when he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his father's life. It turned out to be a deal gone wrong as the old man died and Johny was sent to hell, literally. Mephisto had a job for our flaming hero, as some demons went loose and escaped hell, heading for Earth. That breaks the pact with the angels that banned demons from the realm of men. Mister Ghost Rider must bring those demons back, or else the Apocalypse will follow and he'll lose his beloved one. The story is told through comic book imagery and you won't see any proper cutscene throughout the game. It's a nice touch that the narrator and the music have a country-western ring, but I don't think that they intend to get so hilarious with the whole storytelling.
After inserting the DVD, you'll be treated with... no intro cutscene at all, being taken directly to the menu. Don't worry as there are no cutscenes to be seen while playing Ghost Rider, only a few comic book-look-alike animations that tell the story. Choose the difficulty level and it might be "forgiving", "challenging" or "punishing", but the game remains the same and it's pretty easy to beat in a couple of hours. After the first few seconds of gameplay, it will be clear that you're dealing with a recycled God of War replica. Ghost Rider is Kratos undercover, dressed in leather pants and with a flaming skull. Since we're looking for elements taken from other games in the genre, you'll see some Devil May Cry similarities in the level design and the way that the enemies look like.
Being even more attentive, you'll notice that even the loading icon has been taken from Gears of War as it's a red rotating skull. Also, Johny will have to absorb the souls of the creatures he'll have to defeat and he'll do it in a way that reminds me of Onimusha. His skull will attract colored floating bubbles named "souls" by the producers. A thing that separates Ghost Rider from its sources of inspiration is the motorcycle driving option. There are some levels, where Johny will take control of a cool chopper, having to jump over ledges and dodge traps and enemies, shooting them or hitting them with his weapons. Speaking of which, Ghost Rider has the same tools and moves that Kratos had in God of war: some sort of chain-swords that he'll use to slash the hellish beasts that stand in his way. You'll be able to learn combos, by gathering points and distributing them to the abilities available in the in-game menu.
The health meter is another God of War rip-off element, having the same shape, size and placement on the screen. You'll recharge health only be passing near a torch or source of fire that will increase the flame that covers Johny's skull. Gathering souls will in fact charge an ability meter underneath your health bar and it will allow you to perform combos and special moves that look pretty nice. Each level ends in a pretty predictable way: a point and souls count and you'll get some more points. If you're a fan of the original Ghost Rider comic you can view all the extras available in the menu or unlock them. You'll get points pretty quick and those galleries are not very expensive to unlock. There are behind-the-scene movies to be seen, a series of comics divided into episodes: birth, rebirth or scarecrow and an art gallery filled with pictures.
The ratings you get at the end of each level are pretty extreme as the time you take to complete a mission awards you a "Damned" rating, while the damage you do makes you a "Condemned" soul. You should use the points you collect wisely within a system that resembles the Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams ability upgrade option. An extra level in the health upgrading option grants you a bigger life meter and an even slimmer chance of getting wasted. That will not happen if you've ever played a game in your entire existence and I mean any game, because Ghost Rider doesn't offer a sufficient challenge even for the average gamer.
The motorcycle-riding levels are more fun than the game itself although they are as difficult as the easiest race in Crash Tag Team racing. And the gameplay itself isn't far from that title, too. As Ghost Rider you'll be able to punch, slash and finish enemies with dozens of combos that look the same and do the same amount of damage. You'll be pressing the square and the triangle button a lot to hit the foes, combined with the X to jump or the right analog stick to roll and duck their hits. Like in movie, Johny has a shotgun that he'll use to fire short blasts towards his enemies, but only when his weapon is charged. To do that, you need to collect souls and recharge yourself and I must say that the weapon looks rather funny when it's empty and it's "squirting" sparks without harming anyone.
Don't think that the action is more complex in the bike levels, because it relies on hitting your enemies that stay either on your left or right side. You'll also have the opportunity to shoot the unlucky demons that stand in your way dispatching them pretty quickly. The environment is more dangerous than the AI in those levels as you'll be hitting walls, trees and falling in the lava if you don't time your jumps right. There's also a cool sequence where Mister Johny has to slide underneath some obstacle by turning the bike to one of its sides. The feeling is pretty strong while playing these bike racing and slashing levels, specially if the vibration is set on and you're reaching the max speed. Just watch out for those high jumps that are pretty pre-defined if you ask me...
Useless options? Certainly, especially if you press the Select button that makes our character taunt demons, as if they cared about your insults and threats. They'll do what? "Go to hell"? Ghost Rider will do Retribution moves that need a lot of green souls to power up and they make our hero go crazy and perform attacks at high speeds. While doing those in Retribution mode, you'll maybe like to use the Penance stare that you've seen in the movie. Basically, Ghost Rider looks his victim in the eyes and makes him vanish in a pile of ash. This hit kills any foe instantly and it's not as fun as chaining hits and combos to pass the time till a real challenge arrives. And by that I mean big bosses, with some real AI and the potential to take at least half of your health.
If the CPU-controlled monsters can't kill you even if they're a pretty large group they'll resort to cheats, like firing fireballs at you while they're not on-screen. Also, there are some beasts that have certain immunities against Johny's attacks and you won't be able to do a Brutal strike against them having reloaded your Vengeance meter for nothing. At least the environments look well enough to make the game playable in an attempt to forget that we're playing a God of War clone with elements from Devil May Cry and Onimusha.
Did anyone order Kratos with a black leather suit on? Ghost Rider copies even the visual aspects from God of War and you'll see that the combos look exactly the same and the special moves are not far from that, either. The backgrounds look like hell and that's a compliment if you take into consideration the game's diabolical setting. Some environments may remind you of Devil May Cry 3, but chase away that thought, since it must be just our imagination that Ghost Rider is a rip off. I must admit that the coolest aspect of the gameplay is the Penance Stare that has Johny grab a creature by its neck and stare at it while screaming something about vengeance, justice and the stuff he's been fighting for in the movie.
He'll be surrounded by an aura of fire and light while performing the move, but you'll see two bright becoming lit in the red fog. The chopper looks nice in those motorcycle riding missions, but you can't make out much of it, since it has flaming wheels and a half-flame driver. The main character is a bit stiff, jumping like there something in his ... leather suit. Also the enemy creatures have pretty lame animations, appearing all of a sudden out of nothingness and vanishing into a black cloud when they die.
If I started playing Ghost Rider and the music was similar to the rest of the game, I would have gone berserk giving the game a straight 3 out of 10 ranking. You'll listen to some heavy tunes during the game, but the music doesn't alternate much when you fight. Each level begins with chillout songs that turn into heavy metal or tough rock and roll songs that match the action's pace. Johny Blaze has some pretty aggressive lines up his sleeve that he'll say if you press the Select button. Don't worry, he has no intelligent catch phrase to utter and the brightest thing you'll hear from Mister Ghost Rider is "Look into my eyes!" while doing his Penance Stare move. Class A music, bad voice acting and boring dialog lines, that's all I can say about Ghost Rider's audio department.
2k Games have done a terrific job... a copy-paste job that ripped off God of War's gameplay elements mixed them with Devil May Cry features, added a bit of Onimusha and salt and came up with a half-baked title. The hero may have a flaming skull, but we, the gamers will be the ones flaming the producers for their initiative. However, this game can become an aperitif before the release of God of War 2, since it brings back what most gamers loved about the original GOW game.