A PS2 exclusive developed by Cambridge Studios, Ghosthunter puts you in the role of Lazarus Jones, a rookie detective officer along with his partner Steele, who is tasked with investigating an abandoned school. Unknowingly they unleashed a boatload of ghosts and his partner Steele gets abducted and its up to Lazarus to save her.
Main objective is to navigate your way around several different works, whilst capturing ghosts at you encounter them. Many ghosts require for you to shoot at them in order to capture them, and later on in the game there are multiple techniques needed to be mastered to capture certain ghosts. As you progress through the game you start to understand the backstory of the game.
Not all ghosts can be captured by the device, some you just need to shoot.
Graphics wise this looks pretty good by PS2 standards, although it has a weird effect where black lines start to appear at the side of the screen when the framerate starts to dip, this has been reported by different users, but it is unsure if this affects certain PS2 models, or if it only appears in the NTSC version (which I am using)
Also, it turns out there is a progressive scan mode in the NTSC version, but is hidden and can only be accessed by pressing a button combination upon startup. Nice of the developers to do that, could of at least given us the option on boot-up.
Aside from the graphics, the game also makes use of volumetric water, and cloth physics which can be seen on the swamp and mansion levels. Clearly this is a game that makes use of the PS2 VU0 (Vector Unit) processor to perform these calculations.
The Europe and American versions differ slightly since they had different publishers and due to the reception of the Europe version which was released first.
Seemly some of the puzzles in the game were made easier in the NTSC version. Considering I even struggled with some of these puzzles I’d say they made the right choice here, but a difficulty level could have fixed that.
Lazarus Jones – A rookie detective from Detroit and the main protagonist of the game, looks and sound’s like Ellis from Left 4 Dead 2
Anna Steele – No relation to the 50 Shades of Grey character, Lazarus’s partner who gets abducted early on in the game, and its up to Lazarus to save her
Professor Richmond – A scientist that was leading the project
Sir William Hawksmoor – The bad guy and the final boss
Astral – Some sort of blue spirit that bonds with Lazarus, she will help you navigate areas and puzzles that Lazarus cannot physically complete, on the count of her being a spirit. Astral has several abilities, of which only one is available at the start with the rest being unlocked s you progress through the game.
Once you are in a level you are free to navigate and explore the level, making it very open, But you cannot revert back to a previous level unless you load an earlier save file. The game only supports saving and loading from Memory Card Slot 1.
Haunted School – The first level that you explore, where Lazarus accidentally sets off a bunch of ghosts that start to wreak havoc. It s this art where you meet the AI computer that will assist you in the forthcoming levels.
Swamp Realm – This introduces the howler ghost where you will need to hide and enter cover to fool the ghost. This relies on stealth and the ability to enter cover whilst keeping track of it. The howler will typically move an object needed for you to progress, so it’s best to hide and see what it does before capturing it. As for the rest of the level, its a bit dreary with it being set on a swamp for most of the level. Eventually, you will encounter an abandoned Mansion that has an issue with its ghost inhabitants, here you must solve a series of puzzles and riddles to progress through the game.
On the swamp, and later levels you have access to the spectral binoculars, which will reveal the health of the ghost enemy when used.
Haunted New School – You are back in the school where there is much more to explore. Here you have to navigate around to the science block and through to the library where you have to collect a series of books. There’s not much in the name of navigation so will need to explore and check closely.
You will be introduced to smoke grenades which are needed to defeat some of the ghosts, you will need to fire these before capturing them.
Ship Realm – Now you are on an army/military base with ghost soldiers. Here you will need to navigate through he base and onto a ship. At some point you will encounter some sort of tentacle monster that requires you to navigate through the rooms stealthy to avoid being killed. You cannot shoot this monster will regular guns, instead you have to locate and find bombs and a detonator to keep it at bay.
Prison Realm – You’re now on a prison Island, where you have to navigate through the cells and corridors to progress. At some points you will need to use Asteral to take over certain guards in order to move or manipulate objects.
The game makes a good addition to anyone’s PS2 library and despite the mixed reception, there’s an immersive environment to explore. The game was later re-released on the PlayStation 3 store as a PS2 classic, and is an emulated version of the PS2 version.