Ghost Rider – Review

g-ghostrider200Ghost Rider

(2K Games for PS2)
by Mike Delano

If you’re gonna rip off another game, you might as well rip off from the best, and 2K games takes this advice straight to the heart with Ghost Rider for the PS2. By unabashedly “borrowing” many of the elements that made God of War so great, the developers succeed in saving the game from a one-way trip to throwaway movie tie-in hell, but they don’t show much aptitude for carving out an original style that would’ve made Ghost Rider more than just a fun, but uninspired, Xerox copy.

As the titular hero, you’ll battle your way out of hell and beyond using solid hack ‘n’ slash play mechanics that feel satisfyingly explosive. You cut through enemies with your chain, unleash punishing grapple maneuvers and brutalize opponents with a shotgun and screen-clearing specials. If it feels familiar, that’s because it’s almost a direct lift from Kratos’ abilities in God of War, except not as flawlessly executed. And if you feel a little Devil May Cry déjà vu, that’s because G.O.W. ripped off that game.

The gameplay, glaringly swiped as it may be, is pretty much all that makes Ghost Rider bearable. The environments and enemies are dull, and the story is told through lame static cut scenes. Rather than expand the hack ‘n’ slash portions of the game to include adventure-style platforming or exploration to break up the monotony, motorcycle racing sequences are plopped in occasionally. On top of severely breaking up the flow of the game, these sequences just look and play awful, and even force the player to endure Battletoads-style obstacle memorization that was annoying when it was on the NES and is unacceptable in 2007.

For super fans of the character, the fighting sequences are enough to make Ghost Rider an entertaining, if underwhelming, rental run-through. For anyone else, shouldn’t you be playing God of War 2?