Some people don’t look forward to death. Others have been waiting 3 years for it. This game has been described as the anti-Sims. Ghost Master asks you to build up a team of ghosts to scare away humans out of a variety of locations. Luckily, after 3 years in development, it’s been worth the wait.
Ghost Master is divided in to 12 missions, the first set in a sorority house full of sorority girls in towels. This first mission acts as a tutorial, teaching you the basic commands in the game.
The first thing you must do is to choose which ghosts you want to do the haunting with in the particular location. At first there are only about 5 to choose from, but as you complete more and more missions, more will become available, and within each mission you will find new ghosts and haunters to lay-to-rest and join your team. For example, in all the missions you will find 2 or 3 ghosts somewhere in the location, chained to a particular object. This means they are stuck to a particular place in the location, and need your help to set them free. In the first mission, there is a Weatherwitch - who is stuck in the vacuum cleaner, but by giving it a good shake you are able to set here free. Once you have laid a ghost to rest, he or she can join your team and you can use them in future missions.
Each ghost has it’s own powers and therefore some ghosts are better choices than others in certain locations. In this first Sorority House location, Clatterclaws the spider is a good choice, because his power called “Scattered Swarm” releases a swarm of spiders in to the house – what better way to scare a bunch of sorority girls? Each ghost also has it’s own fetter, i.e. Type of place it can be bound to. For example, some haunters can only be bound to electrical objects such as TVs and microwaves, where as others prefer murder scenes. Some ghosts are more flexible, allowing you to place them anywhere inside or outside the location.
When you have chosen your ghosts (usually you must choose 5 for a mission), it’s time to haunt.You must watch the unsuspecting humans go about their daily routines. They’ll act like they do in The Sims, walking from room to room, watching TV, phoning people and cooking. Often a mission will ask you to “scare away all of the mortals.” By strategically placing ghosts around the house, and selecting the right powers, this should not prove too difficult. However, as the game progresses, the missions get more difficult.
One mission is called “Calamityville Horror”, set in a creepy haunted house, and instead of asking you to scare all of the humans away, you are asked to make the humans discover the two corpses in the house. There are many puzzle elements like this in Ghost Master, which add variety to the game, and make it that bit more challenging. One of the bodies is in a secret bordered up room in the attic, so by using a ghost’s “Rattle Chains” power to draw the humans’ attention to the room, you will be able to get the humans to break in to the room and discover the body. One ghoul point to you my friend.
Actually, the game doesn’t work in ghoul points. When you complete a mission, your total will be calculated, from how many people you managed to scare, how much time you took...etc. This “Highscares” system gives the game a longer life, letting you replay missions to get a higher score, or to lay-to-rest any ghosts that you missed the first time round.
You will visit numerous locations in Ghost Master, including an old wooden cabin in the middle of the woods, a hospital, a lunatic asylum, a ghost ship and a police station. The different locations vary in size. Some will be one story high, others 4 levels up.
Graphically, Ghost Master is beautiful. Unlike the original Sims game, Ghost Master boasts a totally 3D engine, which allows you to rotate 360 degrees around the locations, zoom in and out, tilt the camera, and change between floors quickly and easily.This complete control of the camera is totally necessary, so that you can get to every corner in each location, to discover hidden ghosts or to track humans easily. The game also offers a variety of views. As well as the basic view, you can also view each world from the eyes of any human. When you do this, you will see the world from their eyes, and you will hear their heartbeat and their breath, making it easy to work out just how scared they are. In addition, you can also view the world from the eyes of each ghost!
Ghost Master has a nice user interface. You play the game using a simple menu system. For example, to make a ghost use a certain power, simply click the ghost, choose powers, and select the desired power. Using the menus, you will also be able to find a biography for each person or ghost, finding out their fears or how they died. Shortcuts would have been useful addition, making it easier to change between menus.
The music soundtrack in Ghost Master is very appealing and fits in with the game nicely. The sound effects are also good, with a large variety of screams on offer. To take advantage of these, you really need to get down to some good scaring – Use “Ghastly” to perform his “Terror Incarnate” power and he will split in half. Any humans nearby will be fleeing in to the night...
Although 12 missions is plenty to keep you occupied with, a few more extra ones would have been nice. However, expansion packs and sequels are bound to follow, especially if Ghost Master is as much of a success as it deserves to be.
The obvious feature that this game lacks is some type of multiplayer option. The ability to play online with others, or to build your own locations to scare your friends and family away would be an obvious addition to the game.
Ghost Master is a totally unique and original idea. If you like The Sims, you will be right at home, watching humans go about their usual daily routines. And if you don’t like The Sims, it will be right up your street too! Think of it this way – after all those times they messed up your house and made you take them to the bathroom, it’s time to get even. Scare them witless – it’s fun!
This is a game that should appeal to people of all ages. There is no major violence includes, and no death, and the later missions are challenging enough to keep older gamers satisfied. There will be Xbox and Playstation 2 versions of the game arriving later in the year, a measure that Empire has taken to ensure that everyone will get the chance to become a master of the dead.