|System: PS2||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||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: T||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Ghost Rider, one of Marvel's lesser known anti-heroes, is a stunt rider named Johnny Blaze who is possessed by a demon of vengeance. His visibility as a character is higher now, however, due to the new movie starring Nicolas Cage as well as new games taking advantage of the movie's release. While the movie reviews haven't come in just yet, hopefully they're much better than the game because Ghost Rider as a game is a horrible experience.
Ghost Rider is loosely based on the movie, with a plotline that picks up where the movie closes. However, you won't see any representations of the actual actors within the game. Johnny Blaze looks nothing like Nicolas Cage, so maybe Mr. Cage played a preview build and decided not to attach his image to such an awful game. The story follows Mephisto, Marvel Comics' version of the devil, blackmailing Ghost Rider into helping him defeat some rogue demons that have sided with Mephisto's rebellious demon son, Blackheart.
Ghost Rider has two different gameplay segments. The first segment consists of hand-to-hand fighting with hordes of demons. These segments attempt to borrow heavily from other games and they fail miserably. Ghost Rider whips his chains around like Kratos in God of War, but without the style and intuitiveness that God of War had. The Spirit of Vengeance can't even grab a foe unless the foe has been properly stunned, a state which is disrupted as soon as the foe is hit with an attack. Most of the moves have obnoxiously intentional slowdown effects to exaggerate the power of the blows. While the slowdown is attempting to be stylish, it comes across as unnecessary and too repetitive. The game also has Devil May Cry aspirations, as the combo ranking system and the screen transitions between areas are very reminiscent of Dante's series.
The second gameplay segment has Ghost Rider racing across areas on his flaming motorcycle. While these sections are marginally more fun than the fighting segments, they are still abysmal. The Ghost Rider can accelerate, brake, fire forward, and swing his chain to both sides. There are demons on the track that stand like static targets waiting for Ghost Rider to shoot them, which makes these segments seem ridiculous. The best part of these segments is Ghost Rider's ability to slide under certain obstacles, an ability that this game probably borrowed from James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. In EoN, it is done sparingly and keeps its cool effect, while it is overexploited in Ghost Rider.
Ironically, Ghost Rider is made worse because it borrows so heavily from other better games. Whenever you go through a segment that reminds you of God of War, Everything or Nothing, or Devil May Cry, the drastic difference in the game's fun and gameplay is made more pronounced. Ghost Rider repeatedly reminds you that there are better games out there by presenting you with elements that are evocative of those titles.
The graphics in Ghost Rider are below average, especially for a game in the last cycle of the PlayStation 2's life. The fire effects, which are very prevalent considering that the protagonist has a flaming skull, are lackluster, and the animation isn't impressive in the least bit. The game doesn't feel polished at all, which is also made worse because of the games that it compares itself to. The sound and sound effects are a little better, but still aren't memorable.
Most of Ghost Rider is a chore to play. A lot of the boss fights and stages come off feeling boring, and finishing doesn't feel like an accomplishment. The environments and enemies are repetitive and uninteresting. Even Ghost Rider's method of replenishing health by walking over to a fire and allowing it to feed his flaming skull is unintentionally comic and diminishes the ability to take the game seriously. The comic book style cutscenes between stages are usually boring as well.
Probably the one redeeming quality that Ghost Rider has is its unlockables. When Ghost Rider defeats foes, he gains souls, which he can trade for more advanced moves, more health, spirit, and certain unlockables, such as Ghost Rider comic books, artworks, and movies. The ability to read actual comic books may excite some fans, especially Ghost Rider enthusiasts or those curious about his pre-movie comic origins.
Ultimately, Ghost Rider is not a good experience for any gamer. Even die-hard fans of Ghost Rider may be offended by this game attempting to pass itself off as representing the Spirit of Vengeance. If you already own God of War or Devil May Cry, you won't find anything new in Ghost Rider. If you don't own either of those titles, you would do much better to spend your money on them than to try this game.
By D'Marcus Beatty
CCC Co-Site Director