Ghost Rider Review
Ghost Rider box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Climax Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb.13, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The only thing getting fired up is my temper
by Cole Smith

I accidentally asked the video store clerk if he had Knight Rider. Little did I realize how prophetic that question would be.

Ghost Rider screenshot

Before Baywatch, David Hasselhoff was Knight Rider. He had a talking car. It was about as compelling as Baywatch, and just about as intelligent. Nuff said? Nicholas Cage has a flaming bike. Luckily for us, it doesn't talk. Hopefully, the movie won't have anything in common with the Knight Rider TV series. The game on the other hand, sucks almost as bad as Knight Rider. The only good thing about that is there is no way the movie could possibly be any worse than the game. I would have more fun looking for gum under my theater seat than I had playing Ghost Rider on the PSP.

Ghost Rider was originally a comic book. I guess they're running out of superheroes to make movies and games after, but at least Ghost Rider is a cool character. He's not exactly a mainstream icon, but after the release of the movie he may just leave a burn mark on popular culture. The game would be best left to burn in Hell, where our anti-hero originates.

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Allow me to give you a quick overview of the negative aspects of this game before you run down to the video store like your pants are on fire. The gameplay has potential, but fails miserably to live up to it. On the surface, the gameplay looks varied, but you'll quickly realize that this diversity is little more than a novelty, with all the depth of a collection of mini-games. Each gameplay element seems to fit into the concept of the Ghost Rider universe, but they fail to mesh into a cohesive whole. They are all disparate elements that can't be tied together by the mangled storyline. Repetition is rampant, and things are so predictable that you'll feel like you've got supernatural powers of your own as you just know what's coming next. But if you really are psychic, you wouldn't need to be reading this review right now, would you?

Ghost Rider screenshot

Fans of the comic series know that Ghost Rider has undergone numerous origin changes. Suffice to say that he's in league with demons. There are two entirely different versions of Ghost Rider. One involves a stunt rider named Johnny Blaze who makes a pact with the devil to save his partner from dying of cancer. For such a pact, Johnny is cursed to share his body with a demon named Zarathos. In the other version, Danny Ketch is a young man that finds a possessed motorcycle in the graveyard. Upon touching it he becomes Ghost Rider, champion of the weak: a vengeful soul gifted with incredible powers of retribution. In each version, the main character's head becomes a flaming skull with matching flaming motorcycles that are capable of incredible feats. The game blends these two origins into something that I like to call mush. It's not exactly the most spellbinding or original concept in comic book history, but the storyline in the videogame is so convoluted and disjointed that you'll be lucky to make sense of anything. Ghost Rider is commissioned by the demon Mephisto to rid the Earth of a scourge led by Blackheart, Mephisto's son. If he doesn't, his girlfriend will be dragged into the depths of Hell. This army of darkness is also the army of "sameness" as you'll constantly be battling the same demons with the same powers and attack patterns.

The gameplay is divided into two main components that consist of fighting and riding. The fighting is redundant thanks to the predictable enemies. There are some interesting weapons and abilities that Ghost Rider can acquire. By collecting the souls of the defeated demons, you can purchase new weapons, skills and upgrades. Starting off with virtually nothing, you will quickly work your way up to the flaming whip chain. Unfortunately, you'll have just about everything that you need in the first quarter of the game. Along with the whip chain there are shotguns, energy blasts, and various combo attacks. But some of the early weapons and abilities are the most powerful and these are the ones that you're most likely to use. In an effort to force some variety down your throat, there are instances where you have to mix things up. Using different abilities and weapons will build up your Vengeance meter, which will increase the amount of souls that you collect. These souls will also build up your Spirit meter which will allow you to access the Retribution mode which is the only way that you defeat certain enemies. It's not a bad idea, but it just feels too contrived and forced. Not to mention that you lose all the juice in the meter each time you take a hit, and getting hit is not easy to avoid.

Ghost Rider screenshot

Driving this flaming motorcycle should be a blast, but it's not. The controls are sloppy, and there's little else to do but pick off enemies and try to navigate some surreal courses filled with pits of death that you have to jump over. It's almost like an on-rails shooter, but with the added annoyance of trying to keep a wonky bike under control. You can try to sideswipe enemies that are on motorcycles, shoot at ones that pop out at you, or lash out with your chain. In the comic, Ghost Rider's bike is capable of some incredible physics-defying moves, but the only thing it defies in this game is logic.

The flames animate nicely, and Ghost Rider himself displays the occasional realistic move, but overall the graphics are weak. They are fuzzy, blurry, and washed out. The environments are lifeless, (no comma) with only the basic attention to detail. Levels are laid out identically as you are confined to one section that fills the screen. Once you defeat all the enemies in one screen, you move on, but you don't always move forward. There is a lot of backtracking involved, and these environments aren't so pretty that you can't wait to take another look at them. The framerate hiccups all over the place, and not always when the screen is loaded with enemies. Camera angles get too fancy and trip you up with their confusing perspectives. The storyline is presented in a comic book panel style. The characters are generic looking but this is where you'll find the best art in the entire game. Some narration accompanies the storyboard but that's it for voiceovers. Sorry, no Nick Cage.

Ghost Rider screenshot

Unlike the PS2 version, the PSP includes a few extra modes including a survival challenge mode and a multiplayer mode which can be played with individual copies of the game, or with one shared copy. Obviously the developers went to a lot of work to include these extras, but they still suffer from the same mechanical and control issues as does the single-player mode.

There are some good moments in Ghost Rider, but not enough to warrant a rental, let alone a purchase. Metaphorically, it's like buying a CD only to find out it has one decent song on it.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Features:

  • A top property from Marvel - First released into the spotlight in 1972, Marvel's Ghost Rider comic series has sold more than 45 million copies to date.
  • Authentic Comic Storyline - Famed comic writers Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti penned the game's storyline.
  • Vengeful Combat - Fast paced, combo based combat against multiple enemies using Ghost Rider's trademark hellfire chain and hellfire shotgun.
  • Adrenaline Fuelled Motorbike Action - Ride the terrifying Hell Cycle, swing your chain at enemies and use the bike's powers: ride on water, boost over jumps, power down under obstacles, etc.
  • Diverse Scenery - Ride through varied locations from the movie including the Quentin Carnival and Caretaker's Graveyard, then take a ride down the skyscraper that links Earth to the depths of Hell.
  • Upgrade and Improve -Add upgrades to the Hell Cycle and Hellfire Chain, plus new moves and stat increases using the essence of defeated foes as currency.
  • Penance Stare - Besides possessing superhuman strength, speed, and durability, Ghost Rider can force criminals to experience a level of emotional pain equivalent to that which they have caused in others.
  • Go Toe to Toe with Giant Super Villains - Spectacular boss battles with key Ghost Rider villains will test your combat skills to the limit.
  • Loads of Unlockables - Artwork, bonus characters, interviews, and more extend replay value and challenge players to dig deep into the experience.
  • Developed by Climax-the experienced team behind cutting-edge games like ATV Offroad Fury 3, the MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology series, and Sudeki.
  • PSP offers new levels, bosses, and gameplay including Wi-Fi multiplayer and motorcycle deathmatch for up to 4 players.

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    2.4

    Graphics
    Blurry, fuzzy, and muddy: The law firm of poor graphics.

    3.2

    Control
    Forget the bike, it's out of control, but Ghost Rider has some nice moves and weapons. It's too bad he doesn't have challenging enemies.

    3.0

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Sound effects are good and the music is fine, but I want to hear more voiceovers - even if they aren't the real actors from the movie.

    1.2

    Play Value
    Send this game back to Hell as soon as possible.

    2.2

    Overall Rating - Poor
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge
    Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge Ghost Rider screenshot – click to enlarge

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