Exclusive to the Gamecube, Geist becomes one of the last highly anticipated games for the fledgling console, and it was hyped because of its concept. A basic first-person shooter, Geist doesn't stay very long in the shooting gallery phase. It spends most of its time in the supernatural realm, and the idea behind it is the best in years.
Ideas however, don't make great games. Players don't actually control a central character when shooting up packs of adversaries. They control the enemies through possession. Outside of host, they play a ghost searching for the next animal, person, or inanimate object to take over.
That does mean the focus of the game is finding the proper host and using them to advance. This is too linear to be challenging, and too simplistic to be enjoyable. It's hard to even consider these segments puzzles. The answers are always in front of the player, whether as a ghost (complete with beautiful graphical effects) or a host.
It's not just a matter of pressing a button and immediately being transferred into the freshest new enemy. Every living thing that you want to take over needs to be scared. Here's where Geist could have made its move into brilliance. Sadly, it's always the same process. Find an object, click A, and then possess. You then press A again to "scare" whatever it is you need. It may be a different animation each time out, but it becomes tiring as the game moves on since there's no challenge in doing any of this. Your next move is obvious, and it's programmed that way.
Segments with all-out action have frame rate trouble when an armada of foes barrels down a hallway to attack. Shooting is limited, with no ammo pick-ups necessary since there's no limit. That's a refreshing change, and it does make your choice of possession important. You can only use the weapon provided by the host. That's the closest any of this comes to strategy.
Multi-player makes up for some of these missed opportunities, with original modes and four-player (eight with bots) gameplay. The thrill of trying to find the best host before anyone provides a great rush. The core FPS mechanics are a nice ingredient to make this the game's strongest suit.
That leaves Geist as another title that comes close, yet fails to grasp the player with an innovative concept. The initial moments and training make the possession process entertaining. Later uses only show it for how limiting it is, and it's almost as if the training never stops.