Ghostbusters: The Video Game

ghostbusters
8.5 Overall Score

Plays out like a true third film, complete with all the series’ trademark humor | Wrangling and trapping ghosts is a blast | Hidden artifacts, ghost backstories and multiplayer add depth

PKE meter is an imprecise pain in the ass | Combat can get repetitive | Bill Murray dialed in his performance for the throw away love story subplot, which would have been better had Sigourney Weaver’s voice acting talents been included

Developers Terminal Reality have pulled of a minor miracle with Ghostbusters: The Video Game, not only giving us one of the best movie-inspired games ever made but letting us act out our childhood dream of ‘bustin ghosts with Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston. Written by series veterans Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, and featuring the voices of all but a couple of the original actors, this third person shooter is the most authentic videogame translation of the Ghostbuster’s universe  yet. Solid gameplay, hilarious dialogue and a pitch-perfect soundtrack will have you bustin’ ghosts like it’s 1984. Not that this nostalgic experience is perfect – repetitive gameplay, linear level design and limited weapon choices are a few of the minor quibbles that prevent this title from achieving shooter stardom on its own merits, apart from its iconic license, but it’s still a credit to its namesake.

You know the tale. Boy meets girl. Girl gets possessed by malevolent paranormal forces bent on destroying the barrier between dimensions. Boy and his proton pack-equipped co-workers rescue the girl and save the world. This formula may sound trite but it works so very well, mostly because of the prodigious voice talent of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, who slip seamlessly back into their movie roles. Even Annie Potts returns as the voice of sass-serving secretary Janine Melnitz. This is the long lost third Ghostbusters movie that should have been made. Everything that you loved about Ghostbusters has been lovingly and exactingly recreated, at least in part, including cameos by a rather hefty marshmallow, a former EPA employee and a green little hotdog-loving spud. Of course, if you’ve never seen Ghostbusters, then two things are true: 1) you’ve been living under a rock, and 2) you won’t get the in-game jokes that comprise the bulk of the belly laughs, so pop in the recently released Blu-ray Ghostbusters before you play the game.

 

You start out as the new recruit, affectionately known as the Rookie, which results in you serving as a Ghostbustin’ Guinea Pig, armed with a brand new and untested proton pack strapped to your back. The first couple of levels acquaint you with the tools of the trade, slowly enough to ease your rite of passage into the specter-filled fray. The pace of learning is just fast enough for you to grasp the fairly complicated controls without being pedantic. In truth, the controls match what a real Ghostbuster would have to contend with, blast a ghost to get its energy down, make sure you don’t overheat your pack, capture the weakened ghost in a stream, thrash it around for good measure, and suck it into a waiting trap.

Along with the rest of the team, you’ll get to explore museums, libraries, hotels, sewers and alternate dimensions in your quest to solve the mystery behind the city’s increasing paranormal activity, which wisely returns to the Gozer mythology of the first film. When you’re not baggin’ ghosts, you’re hunting them with your PKE meter, which plays like a pair of night-vision goggles. Ghosts are tricky little bastards, so you’re forced to use your PKE meter quite a bit to find them. This gets tedious at times, but it’s tempered by the haunted artifacts that you also locate throughout the city using the meter.  Once found, these artifacts serve as bizarre home décor at Ghostbuster HQ, while every ghost you trap brings home the bacon and allows you to upgrade your pack and bustin’ skills.

 

Speaking of your pack, you have four firing modes, each with two types of attack. First and foremost there’s your classic Proton Stream, which can also emit a capture stream to wrestle ghosts into traps and a powerful burst of condensed energy known as a Boson Dart (think sticky bomb). There are also a couple of dark matter firing modes including the Meson Collider, which launches a homing beacon followed by a barrage of of rapid-fire beams (think heat seeking missiles) and the Stasis Stream, which can be used to either slow quick-moving enemies or release a shock wave blast (think shotgun). The second most useful firing mode however is the Slime Blower, which can be used to weaken or capture ghosts, expel demons from possessed teammates, reveal the location of hidden doorways and, when launched tether-like using the secondary fire button, draw two objects together. The extra options are neat, though you’ll likely wind up using the blue and red stream much more than the other functions, which is just fine since maniacally waving around a squiggly stream of protons never gets old.

Ghostbusters presents a nicely stylized, vividly realized New York City in which to wreak havok, replete with all manner of terrific looking spooks and spectors. Ecto1 still gleams as brightly as Dana Barrett’s Gozer-powered fridge (which is missing in this game, along with the Gatekeeper and Keymaster themselves). Environments are also incredibly detailed, but being able to destroy pretty much anything is what really draws you into this world. And since your pack’s blasts are barely restrained, you will destroy all parts of the city you encounter, a running damage tally keeping track of every crashing chandelier and crumbling pillar. This, by the way, is fun. And with a soundtrack lifted straight from the movie – jaunty when the banter’s flyin’, spooky when ghosts are lurkin’, majestic when the world is about to end – you’ve got an immersive experience that captures the essence of the Ghostbusters universe.

 

If you enjoyed the movies, you’ll enjoy Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which despite its flaws is a worthy addition to the beloved franchise. Though some of the battles can be repetitive, some of the humor can fall flat and some of the controls can be wonky, the game more than makes up for any shortcomings by delivering a genuinely engrossing and engaging Ghostbusters tale, one that makes the world of the movies come alive. When there’s something strange in the neighborhood, you can count on the AI–controlled Egon, Ray, Venkman and Winston pull their own weight, trapping their fair share of ghosts so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. You will have to revive your teammates from time to time, as some ghosts seem particularly fond of knocking you on your jumpsuit clad derrière, but ultimately you really feel like you’re part of the team. Just don’t get too close to your mates – you still don’t want to cross the streams.

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Author: JP View all posts by

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