Ghostbusters The Video Game Review: I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts
Much like a lot of the geeky things from the late 80s, and early 90s the “Ghostbusters” movies hold a very dear place in many gamers’ hearts. They may not have been as nerdy as “Tron” or “War Games,” but they were still part of the culture that birthed today’s dorks, nerds, and fanboys, and, while the size of the role that it played is different for everyone, no one can deny the fact that the movies weren’t an ingredient in the recipe. It’s this nostalgia that could have ignited a firestorm over the franchise’s latest game released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (also the Wii, but that’s a whole different story) if the game wasn’t treated with the love and respect it deserved. Fortunately, once gamer’s knew that Harold Ramis and Dan Akyroid signed on to write the script for the game, it seemed like it could actually head in the right direction, but did the finished project continue down that path, with the finished product living up to the “Ghostbusters”’ name? Thank God it did.
The game has thankfully remained very true to the source material in many different ways: The entire main cast from the films have returned to do the voices of their respective characters. They’ve recreated the firehouse almost perfectly. The story is written to feel like it should be part of the series. The PKE meter is included, and is vital to multiple aspects of the game. They even included Slimer. Everywhere you turn there’s something that longtime fans are going to spot, which will hopefully make them appreciate the time and effort that Terminal Reality put into making this game.
The thing is, for everything that was included, if the gameplay isn’t there to support the story and the fan favors, then “Ghostbusters” would turn into more of a showpiece than a game. Fortunately, the developers opted for a familiar, third-person action take on the game, creating an entire single-player campaign around that very concept. If you’re familiar with many of the mechanics introduced in “Gears of War” then you’ll feel very comfortable picking up the controller, and heading out to bust some ghosts. That’s not to say “Ghostbusters” is a ripoff of “Gears,” because it’s not, it just pulls a lot of inspiration from, what many fans of the genre, consider a great game.
If you swap the word “gun” for “proton pack” that pretty much covers most of the offense of “Ghostbusters,” as you’ll spend the entire game hunting down ghosts with four different versions of the team’s main tool. Each variation pretty much has some kind of ammo based parallel (e.g. the Bozon Dart being a rocket launcher, and the Shock Blast has a very shotgun like effect), but that doesn’t mean that “Ghostbusters” is just another shooter, because it’s not. There may be a fine line between shooting a steam instead of bullets, but it really does make a difference; especially when coupled with the trap-capturing mechanic, a vital aspect of capturing most of the ghosts in the game. Basically, it’s not enough to just shoot things in this game, you have to wear them down, and then drag them into a trap to bring back to the containment unit. Basically “Ghostbusters” takes a familiar mechanic, builds on it, and makes it its own.
The story, while it takes longer to play out than your standard 90 minute movie, fits right into the “Ghostbusters” world. Taking place two years after Ghostbusters II, you play a new recruit who was brought on to the team basically to be Egon’s guinea pig. You get to field test all the new equipment, along side the other characters in the game, as you try to put a stop to Ivo Shandor, a follower of Gozer the Gozerian, who constructed buildings throughout NYC to channel evil spirits. The game takes place at various, well-known locations throughout New York on Thanksgiving in 1991. You revisit a few of the spots from the movies, as well as venture to some new ones. Overall, it’s a solid mix of old and new that will keep any fan happy.
The game even sports some fairly unique multiplayer options as well. Instead of the standard death match (the advantage of not having guns) the players are basically put to work to take down ghosts in various different scenarios. There could be a time limit to take down X amount of ghosts, or certain artifacts that you need to protect, but it boils down to the more ghosts you take down, the more money you make, and that’s how the multiplayer ranking breaks down. It’s very refreshing to see a completely separate, well-thought-out co-op multiplayer included in the game, instead of forcing co-op into the campaign, and messing with that experience. In the end, it’s quite fun, and you get sucked in extremely quickly.
Unfortunately, not everything is great about “Ghostbusters,” but it really boils down to a matter of managing expectations. The game itself is sound - with a good story, and little to complain about in the way of gameplay or controls, but, with this being a Ghostbusters game, it seems like you should be able to play as the official Ghostbusters - Igon, Peter, Winston and Ray, which you can’t do in the single player game. Fortunately, this is compensated for in the multiplayer where it allows you to play as any one of the five characters included in the game. Aside from that, the single player is a little on the short side (clocking in around the eight hour mark), and it might leave some players left wanting more, but, again, the multiplayer should be able keep you satisfied a little longer.
Simply put; a new “Ghostbusters” game could have gone very wrong. It’s a movie franchise that is known for not having the best track record when it comes to video games, and the latest game in the series could have easily followed in its predecessor’s footsteps. However, something went very right with the latest release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from Atari. It was as if someone actually cared about this release, and finally went the extra mile to make a “Ghostbusters” game that the fans would truly appreciate. Sure, it’s not Ghostbusters 3, but it is funny, well written, and expertly executed, and, as long as you can overlook a few of the game’s flaws, it’s a solid release, whether you’re a fan of the movies or not.
“Ghostbusters The Video Game” was released on June 16th, 2009 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version.