Ghost Rider PS2 Review

Ghost Rider isn’t exactly one of Marvel’s most recognised brands, although with a movie release gaining more exposure for the character, here comes the inevitable gaming adaptation, one which should flatter the likes of Devil May Cry, God of War and Road Rash, for simply aping their play elements.

Devil May Cry and God of War predominantly have a lot to answer for in how Ghost Rider plays, as removing the anti-hero with a flaming skull for a head and replacing him with a white haired demon killer or a bald headed warrior would certainly be enough to turn Ghost Rider into part of the Devil May Cry and God of War bloodlines. With that said, thanks to the pedigree series’ that have inspired the powers behind it, it’s obvious that the game in question is a good one.

A movie tie-in this may be, although it’s a gaming adaptation that doesn’t follow the story of the silver screen version, instead it’s a completely original storyline that is actually set after the events of the movie. The plot was written by renowned comic book writers Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti, who have borrowed extensively from the Ghost Rider universe for the game, which means for fan satisfaction there’s various characters lifted out of the pages of the comic books.

The character of Ghost Rider lends himself well to a gaming universe, as he not only looks cool thanks to his burning skull, but in the games darker areas his head also acts as a rather powerful torch, and one that never runs out of batteries either. In fact, graphically the game is pretty impressive as a whole, but nothing looks quite as nice as the well animated pivotal character.

Demon bashing is the order of the day, and like Capcom’s classic series, keeping a continuous chain of attacks going for as long as possible makes Ghost Rider more powerful and rewards you with souls that are linked with upgrading the Rider and unlocking bonus material such as comic pages, concept art and making of videos, as well as bringing to life some of his more powerful attacks. Combos meanwhile are more a less carbon copies of many of those seen in God of War.

Ghost Rider’s Link Attack is a devastatingly powerful attack, which can be triggered once the green on-screen circular meter is full. The Spirit Gauge on the other hand allows you to use the Rider’s Hellfire shotgun or his Retribution ability, which basically speeds him up and makes him more powerful. During Retribution you can also use Ghost Rider’s trademark Penance Stare, which forces your enemies to feel the pain and suffering that they have caused others to feel as well as giving you a healthy amount of souls in return.

Heavy and light moves can be mixed up to create a flurry of attacks, furthermore you’ll pick up new combos as you upgrade your move set, giving you various methods of doing away with your opposition. In a genius plan an evasive roll move is set to the right analog stick, meaning that a flick of the said stick is all that is needed to get you out of any potentially sticky situation.

When you aren’t stabbing demons to death you’ll be soaring through hell on Ghost Rider’s lovely motorcycle. These sections are frequent and certainly solid enough to keep things interesting. You can fire off fiery projectiles to take out enemies in front of you and in a nod towards EA’s Road Rash series, you can melee attack those travelling closely to your left or right. Later you‘ll be able to ride on water and a boost of speed can give you the edge over your chasing enemies. For situations that require a little bit more action, you can leap over dark chasms and even slide along the ground to get underneath and avoid obstacles in your path, assuring that the antihero stays firmly seated on his bike. It’s all great action-packed stuff.

Going against the game is the length of time it will take you to complete it. It took us half an hour short of four hours to get from the start to the finish, which we found very disappointing to say the least. On the plus side, there’s four difficulty levels and additional characters to play through the entirety of the game with (one of which is unlocked on the hardest extreme difficulty level). The majority of these characters are pretty much new skins for Ghost Rider, although you do get to play as Blade, who’s different from the Rider, but sadly is only armed with a sword, this is at odds with the character being famous for his use of multiple weaponry.

Some may spit at Ghost Rider for ripping-off popular games, although we reckon that this is a very good clone of some of the best action games out there. For fans of the Marvel character as well as those who can never have enough action this gaming adaptation should suit you just fine, although due to the criminal brevity, the bargain bins or the rental store might be your best bet.