Johnny Blaze, a.k.a. “Ghost Rider,” is so busy battling a barrage of demons, hell bats and ninjas in his new videogame that it’s tough to notice the lack of a fully developed story. That said, publisher 2K Games and developer Climax have created a hell of a ride that will please gamers who enjoy fighting non-stop waves of blood-thirsty enemies, though it will likely disappoint comicbook purists who care about who the guy with the flaming skull is or why he’s hurling chains at all those demons.
Absence of an engaging plot to complement the pulse-pounding action is all the more puzzling considering that two acclaimed comicbook writers — Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti — penned the story, which supposedly takes place after the film but largely mirrors its plot, in which Ghost Rider has to defeat Mephisto’s son Blackheart and save his girlfriend.
Arcade-style action alternates between on-foot fighting and motorcycle-racing sequences. Gameplay is good and gets better as points are accumulated and upgrades to Ghost Rider’s fighting skills become available. The designers put a lot of work into creating some cool combo maneuvers that will likely remind gamers of the ultra-succesful “God of War.”
Motorcycle racing sequences are particularly good. The “hell cycle” is fairly easy to maneuver and challenging obstacles are creatively placed along the track for the racer to navigate around.
Graphics are adequate, but far from spectacular, even taking into account the absence of a next-gen version for the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Backgrounds in hell are bland, while the carnival environment is rich in colors and details.
“Ghost Rider” isn’t particularly challenging. Most players can finish it easily in a weekend, and the lack of a multiplayer option means gamers won’t have much incentive to pick it up again. But in the weak crowd of games based on movie licenses, “Ghost Rider’s” intense action helps it stand a little above the crowd.