Due October 2002 for PC.
|The Sims recently passed the
all-time best selling game mark. The two inch tall characters who work, sleep, romance,
and burn their house down are the subject of a certified craze, one that every publisher
and developer in the world would like to be a part of. So while the Sims may not be able
to carry out their own trash or visit the bathroom without permission, they head one of
the most successful franchises of all time. Go figure. You pay them $40 bucks just for the
opportunity to be introduced, and you end up helping them take showers and screw in light
bulbs, ultimately to the point of being the family counselor when the little one comes
along. Oddly enough, there is something about babysitting with a volume control that
people really enjoy. Enter Ghost Master, a game from Empire Interactive, set to release in
October of 2002. Youve got a house, and youve got people in the house. Only
your Sims arent the cute ones that stress out when the wall goes up in a blaze.
Theyre ugly and nasty transparent ones that leave goo on the stairs and smell like
the damp areas in the dirt basement, and no, Im not talking about your roommate.
Youre the Ghost Master, and people, living human people, are invading your ghostly
domain. Its time to make them leave. Under your influence is a fleet of the dead,
all trained and skilled graduates of Chain Rattling 101, with which to make that happen.
Ghost Master is
not a Sim, and Empire Interactive would probably cough a hairball if they heard it even
suggested. There are similarities and clear influences, though, and thats not a bad
thing. The humans wander the halls of their personal haunted house exhibiting blissfully
simplistic moods, readable through a meter that you can take a look at whenever you feel
nervous your scaring powers arent taking a toll. Your army of ghosts, in a way
similar to The Sims, are not under your direct control (though you can possess them if you
like). Instead, you merely instruct your ghosts to do your bidding. Summon them into a
room and tell them to scream, and theyll make a fair amount of racket. Assign them
the task of haunting an individual, though, and theyll go about it in their own
unique and heart-warming way. Leave them by themselves and theyll take an interest
on their own, sort of the way the Sims would wander, talk, and dance about whenever their
bladders were near exploding, without you straining your clicking finger. The people in
the house, the humans youre scaring away, live their lives pleasantly unaware of
your watchful eye and go about their daily routine unless you interrupt. You do so by
having your ghosts float items, possess ovens, or simply appear and yell, "Boo!"
the game goes on, youll gain more powers and spells. Within each level are several
ghosts, each with their own abilities and personalities, locked away in some unwholesome
fashion. In the level I saw, there was the antenna repairman trapped in the chimney, the
electrical specialist stuck behind a bricked up wall in the basement, and the Avon lady
trying to persuade me to try on her makeup. You unlock the ghosts by somehow meeting one
of their needs, at which point they join your team. You release the Avon ghost by drawing
the human grandmother into the upstairs room with a ghostly scream, then getting her to
try on the case of makeup on the counter in the process of investigating. The ghosts and
animations are all presented with a sense of ominous style, often reminding you that your
ghosts arent always the most pleasant of ghouls. Get the man of the house to open a
hole in the brick wall holding the electrician, and watch as Casper the friendly ghost
reaches out and pulls the mans head and body violently through to his shoulders. It
was actually sort of creepy.
fact, there isnt a single element in Ghost Master that doesnt seem to be
lovingly designed to fit the atmosphere of the game. The layout of the houses, the grand
architecture, the ghosts that you find buried within each level they are all eerie
and beautiful at the same time. Your minions range from the typical flying Ghostbusters
ghost, to the insane old woman and the dead man still strapped to his electric chair.
Ghost Master promises a wide variety of missions and monsters, locations like a typical
haunted house, or an amusement park, or even a haunted fraternity.
Not to neglect the audio component of fright, Empire promises that Ghost Master will
come with a full quality audio spread of screams, music, and zaps. From what Ive
seen, this is an understated promise. The video trailer included on the Press CD has one
of the best-crafted audio soundtracks Ive heard in a great long time (reminded me of
the 7th Guest, to tell the truth). The music is haunting, the sounds are
chilling, and the game is addictive. Built with a rich sense of humor theres
a promise to include plenty of horror movie parody -- Ghost Master looks to be an
entertaining and compelling turn on whatever genre it falls into. While I dont think
its going to be able to avoid comparisons with The Sims, Ghost Master has a unique
enough sense of style to set itself apart on its own merits. It looks to stand on its own
feet, scream with its own lungs, and by golly, scare with its own style. It looks solid so
far. We can only hope that it stays on track to be released sometime near Halloween.