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Ghosthunter PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by SCEE Studio Cambridge
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

Earlier on the year we looked at Primal an action adventure game from SCEE Studio Cambridge. Ghosthunter is their latest title and this time around we have a survival horror action adventure game, albeit with a few differences. Unlike Resident Evil or the Silent Hill series, Ghosthunter sees you trying to capture your enemies rather than simply kill or just escape from them. In short it offers a unique experience and once again Studio Cambridge have given us a game that's well worth owning.

You control Lazarus Jones, a cop who is on his first day in the precinct. Lazarus and his partner, Anna Steele, have been called to an old school that is due to be demolished. The school is no ordinary school though. In the seventies a Professor Richmond undertook supernatural research at the school and had his own team of Ghosthunters to capture and study the ghosts. One of the ghosts that was captured was the particularly evil Hawksmoor. On top of this the school was also the scene for some brutal murders. On arriving at the school, Lazarus is ordered to go down to the basement. He unwittingly finds the machine, known as an array, that trapped the ghosts and manages to release them. Before long Hawksmoor captures Anna and Lazarus is faced with the task of recapturing the ghosts that he has unleashed.

The game isn't simply a case of shooting at ghosts though. First of all it's not normal to be able to see the supernatural and unbeknown to Lazarus a ghost, Astral, has bonded with him and has given him different abilities including the ability to see the ghosts. Lazarus' first task after releasing the ghosts by accident, is to restore power to the array. Once he has done this, he returns to the array to find a virtual assistant is displayed on it's screen and it's this assistant that teaches him how to capture the ghosts. Lazarus has to not only fire at the ghosts to weaken them, but also use a device known as a grenade, which will capture them and send them back to the array. There are quite a few weapons to be found that will help Lazarus in his quest. It's the relationship between Astral and Lazarus that makes the game different though and you'll have to use Astral in situations that are unsuitable for Lazarus. It's reminiscent of the relationship between Jen and Scree in Primal.

The amount of ghosts and other nasty entities provides plenty of opportunities for superb graphical effects and Ghosthunter does not disappoint. Astral in particular looks very impressive but the other nasties look good too. The game as a whole looks good and it's good to see that the framerate only dips slightly only on the odd occasion. The cutscenes are on the whole impressive and interesting. As you would expect the camera is controlled by the right analogue stick and pressing the R3 button returns the camera behind Lazarus. The camera is generally well behaved though and doesn't need much controlling. Although the game is played in the third person perspective you can enable a first person view, which will help you attain greater accuracy in aiming but I had no problems with the default view.

It's great to see that subtitles can be enabled as this makes the game great for deaf gamers. The subtitles are colour coded so you'll be able to follow who is speaking. Pressing select will bring up your notebook, which records all case files that you may come across and also keeps a log of tutorial messages that you've received, which is excellent. You'll also find hints here that will enable you to solve the various puzzles in the game. An icon will appear onscreen whenever a hint has been added to your notebook. The only advantage a hearing gamer would have is that music signifies when you about to encounter a ghost, of which a deaf gamer would be unaware. It's not really a problem though.

It would be wrong to pigeon-hole Ghosthunter as another Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Those games are slow paced and their terror is more psychological than anything else. Ghosthunter is more pacey and definitely has more of an action game feel to it. This is no criticism though because it's actually a refreshing change to play a game of this nature that doesn't simply plod along. With so many big games released at this time of year this is one game that could quite easily be overlooked but to do so would be a big mistake.

Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10
Although it contains elements from a few games out there, Ghosthunter is a unique experience that most gamers will love.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems at all as the game is subtitled.