For the British TV, show see Ghosthunters
, European cover art
SCE Cambridge Studio
December 5, 2003,
August 17, 2004,
September 2, 2004,
Survival horror, Third-person shooter
Ghosthunter is an action game built around ghost hunting, developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The game was released on the PlayStation 2 in Europe on December 5, 2003, in North America on August 17, 2004 and in Japan September 2, 2004.
3 Critical reception,
6 External links,
Ghosthunter can be classified as a third-person shooter. The protagonist, Lazarus Jones, is equipped with a range of projectile weapons and the player may also control Astral, a ghost with various abilities. Astral's powers are charged via the capture of various ghosts over the course of the game.
Ghosthunter is an unusual mix of horror, action, comedy and drama, blending these disparate genres together in a manner some critics have compared to the Ghostbusters films or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. While the action and horror aspects predominate throughout, some sections of the game - such as the "Redneck" aspects - are more comedic, while others - such as the later prison plotline - are dramatic and sometimes even tragic. Certain sections, such as Mrs. de Montford's mansion, contain highly surreal elements. Ghosthunter is also a relatively rare example of a game including the cinematic convention of the false ending: Jones is killed, apparently for good, and the game then brings up the title screen, inviting the player to start over and suggesting that the game is over. But within moments, the game begins again, with Lazarus resurrected.
Ghosthunter follows the adventures of Detroit police Officer Lazarus Jones (voiced by Rob Paulsen) on his first day on the job. He is sent with his partner, Anna Steele (Nan McNamara), on a routine call to investigate a disturbance in an abandoned school, which also was the scene of an unsolved massacre several years previously, when a professor named Brooke apparently murdered a number of students, before disappearing. After the two split up to investigate the building, Jones discovers a paranormal research laboratory, along with a digitized version of its creator, Professor Peter Richmond (Joe Morton). As Jones investigates the laboratory, he inadvertently releases the ghosts contained within it, including an evil spirit named Lord William Hawksmoor (Michael Gambon).
Anna is subsequently kidnapped by Hawksmoor, and Jones, aided by the digital Richmond, is sent to recapture the escaped ghosts and rescue his partner. He soon meets the ghost of a woman named Kate Heller (known as Astral in ghost form). Heller was Richmond's assistant and she now supports Jones by granting him the ability to see ghosts, and using her other abilities to help him on his quest to rescue Steele and stop Hawksmoor in his quest to regain a living body.
In his efforts to recapture the ghosts, Jones travels to various locations the Professor had previously visited. First, he heads to an abandoned ghost town, where he meets Lady DeMontford (Veronica Hart), an eccentric old woman who carries a shotgun, fearing that the ghosts swarming the town will come for her children, saying that her son would deal with them; however, he "has been called away". As such, she sends Jones to find him. It soon transpires that her son is dead, eaten by a crocodile when trying to help a little girl who was trapped in the swamps. His mother, driven insane by grief, blamed the local miners for his death and began kidnapping and killing their children before she eventually killed herself. Ultimately, Jones is able to recapture DeMontford.
After the ghost town, Jones visits a ghost ship, full of hostile ghost soldiers. As he progresses to the ship bridge, he meets Colonel Freddie Fortesque (Michael Cochrane), who informs him that the ghosts are actually World War II English soldiers, who were killed carrying "the spoils of war" to the King in 1945. Among them was a special treasure, The Dagger of Poseidon. Even after his and the crew's death, they have been trying to protect the treasure from the ship's captain, Kraken. Kraken had become greedy and tried to take the Dagger, killing the Colonel's men. Fortesque had killed him, but Kraken had become a monster. Jones is eventually able to defeat and capture Kraken.
Next, Jones heads to a prison, where he meets the real Richmond, learning that Richmond is in fact Brooke, and that he is innocent of the murders two years previously. Jones and Richmond try to escape the prison, but they are ambushed by the Electric Guardian (André Sogliuzzo), the ghost of a death row prisoner who has been possessed by Hawksmoore. Lazarus defeats it and he and the Professor head to a scrapyard and then a secret underground military base. Richmond reveals that he used to work at the base, undertaking ghost research for the government. He explains that Hawksmoor had proposed a deal to the executives of the base- if they granted him Kate Heller's body, as well the right to exploit the Professor, he would destroy their enemies once and for all.
After discovering that Steele is now possessed by Hawksmoor, Richmond betrays Jones, explaining that he made a deal with Hawksmoor; if Richmond brought him the body in which lies Astral's spirit (ie Jones' body), he would unite Astral with Kate's body once more and let both Richmond and Kate leave. Steele, still guided by Hawksmoor, then kills Jones. The digitized Richmond-computer then transforms into a machine and sets out to eradicate the ghosts. Along the way, it finds Richmond hiding in an empty room. It tells him how disappointed it is with him and then sets out to save Jones, who, in his spiritual form, resembles Astral. The Richmond-machine tries to destroy the machine in which Kate is bound, as well as Astral, but Hawksmoor knockes it from a balcony, almost destroying it.
At the same time, Jones enters the machine and regains his body. At that point, Richmond returns, giving a rifle to Jones, revealing he has had a change of heart. He then insists that Jones and Steele leave and stays with the Richmond-machine, which is in the possession of a Zero Bomb- a device capable of completely eradicating ghosts. As Hawksmoor draws near, Richmond detonates the bomb, killing Hawksmoor, the Richmond-machine and himself, whilst Jones and Steele are able to return to the school and escape.
Ghosthunter received generally positive reviews, and current holds a composite ranking of 69% on Metacritic, based on 44 reviews and 72.62% on GameRankings.
General praise was given for its high quality graphics, level design and EDTV support. It was criticized for some camera and control issues as well as occasionally repetitive gameplay.
IGN awarded the game a score of 8.4 out of 10. Extremely impressed with the graphics and sound, they wrote "the way perpetually vivid imagery dynamically mutates from the absurd to the intentionally hilarious to the horrific in environments that go from traditionally horror-esque to outstandingly Alice really drives home a level of environmental diversity and intrigue that most titles never come close to approaching ... this plush design is only strengthened by one of the most impressive engines found on PlayStation 2. What Ghosthunter does for the eyes and ears, we simply do not see that often. Rare is the PS2 game that is this crisp, this well-defined, this polished, this flicker free, and this extravagantly detailed. It's a marvel done by ballsy developers not afraid to craft a dramatic, sweeping cutscene with a variety of close-ups, pans, well-lit environments, and angles most game creators shy away from for fear of highlighting their title's glaring technical faults. I suppose it's actually not brashness, as Ghosthunter can get away with zooming in on its hero's head and showing off the wrinkling face of Lazarus, his stubble, Anna's freckles, the odd and bizarre structure of the hill folk, and the incredibly detailed effects we're hit with turn after turn after turn. Again, it's this marriage of artistry and technical sophistication that makes it all happen."
However, they were less impressed with the gameplay; "The combat here simply does not match the applied presentation value. What we have in terms of action is an affable, but repetitive affair with marginal challenge attached. Unfortunately, between these arguably average combat encounters come some consistently poor puzzles. Never throughout the course of Ghosthunter will the application of genuine thought be needed."
Overall, however, they felt the positives of the game outweighed the problems; "These problems -- an often undesirable kind of action and some more aggravating than awful puzzles -- never ruin an experience that's gorgeous, stylized, and well-cared for. This trait can be attributed to the game's incredible presentation with slick support for progressive scan, widescreen display, and a penchant for utterly astonishing graphics and superlative audio effects, but some credit must be given to the writers and actors. It's they whom deliver the zany and make it an experience worth playing past the clichéd kidnappings and expected jaunts off to abandoned prisons. There's a warm, comfortable, relatable air about the different people you meet (especially Lazarus), and a real reason is provided to complete the title despite the fact that you will eventually run into another stupid spiritual conduit."
Game Revolution awarded the game a C. They also priased the acting and graphics, but found the overall experience to be somewhat lacking; "The voice acting and background music also fit the bill perfectly. Veterans Rob Paulsen, Joe Morton and Michael Gambon do a great job providing the voices of the game's main characters and the audio team provides some decent ambient tunes to keep your hands gripped firmly to the controller. While Ghosthunter sets up a freaky scene, it never does much to distinguish itself from your average action game. There are no big scares and only mildly interesting action. Ghostbusting wannabes might feel compelled to investigate this activity, but everyone else should let it float on by."
GameSpot awarded the game 8 out of 10, similarly praising the graphics but criticising the gameplay; "Ghosthunter isn't a game that will appeal to hardcore survival horror aficionados, nor is it going to have much appeal to anybody who wants serious challenge or longevity out of their action games. The fact is, Ghosthunter is a very easy game that shouldn't take more than eight or nine hours to complete, and there isn't really anything to bring you back to the game once you're done with it. However, Ghosthunter is still a very enjoyable experience for as long as it lasts. Most players should be able to forgive its relative simplicity thanks to its excellent ambiance and entertaining characters and storyline. You definitely won't find yourself challenged by anything Ghosthunter has to offer, but thankfully, the ride the game takes you on is thrilling enough to make it so you won't even care."
A character named Colonel Fortesque is featured in the ghost ship scenario of the game. He is a reference to Sir Daniel Fortesque, the protagonist of the MediEvil franchise which was also developed by SCE Cambridge Studio.