Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Review copy provided by the publisher
The only thing that scares me more than dropping a bar of soap in a jail shower, is being forced to play “officially licensed” movie games or spinoffs. When I had originally caught wind of a Ghostbusters game in the works, I was immediately worried that one of my favorite childhood movies of all time was about to be dealt a great disservice. As more and more facts about the game began to surface, I began to feel a small sense of relief. When the game’s creators Terminal Reality announced that the game was written and produced by both Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis, all was well and good in the land of Ghostbusters, as I knew the game would be in good hands.
The game takes place in 1991, 2 years after the events of the second movie. You play as the new recruit, or 5th Ghostbuster if you will. Your role with the company is basically that of a lab rat. Eagon has been hard at work building all types of new Ghostbusting toys, and it’s your job to test them out. For the most part, the character you play as is referred to as “rookie” and pretty much doesn’t speak at all. In any other game this would drive me crazy. There’s nothing worse than an uninterested, boring protagonist in a game. In the case of the Ghostbusters game, due to such excellent writing, presentation, and pacing throughout the story it just works really well. There’s so much interaction and dialogue between all the other characters, it creates a great feeling of immersion. I really felt like I was busting ghosts with Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman by my side. Freaking. Awesome.
As far as gameplay goes, I must admit that although there are many cool tweaks and upgrades for the proton packs, the battles can get a bit repetitive. It basically goes like this: enter a room, shoot ghost, weaken ghost, grab then slam ghost, trap ghost, and repeat. I know some people will say “oh come on, lighten up! It’s a Ghostbusters game for crying out loud”, and I agree with those people but at the same time, some more variation would have helped. Trapping ghosts is a fun process. The problem I had with it is that because the camera is a fixed third person view with very little depth of field, getting ghosts into the traps seems like a chore half the time.
The multiplayer found in the game is pretty polished for any game on the market, let alone a licensed movie game. With plenty of modes galore, you and 3 buddies can keep coming back to bust ghost ass for hours and hours. I actually found trapping ghosts more pleasing online, because I was able to use my partners position in reference to where the trap was set. Within a few minutes I was bagging and tagging those ghostly bastards, as if I’d been Ghostbusting my whole life.
Graphically, Ghostbusters doesn’t really “wow” you or pop off the screen. Although it does have some pretty cool physics, where the game truly shines is where it counts: in the details. I found myself, no joke, walking around the firehouse for literally about an hour. I just had to take it all in. I watched the 1st movie in anticipation of playing the game, and I have to say that the team at Terminal Reality hit everything right on the head. And that level of detail trickles all the way down to the proton packs, which are extremely in depth. The only gripe I have with the game graphically goes along with what everyone else has been saying when comparing the 360 and PS3 versions. There are definitely major discernable differences between the 2 SKUs. I wish it was only minor texture differences, but even the PS3 version’s resolution doesn’t come close to its 360 counterpart. What I don’t understand is that the PS3 version was being touted as the lead development platform and Sony went to such great lengths at securing exclusivity in the PAL region by publishing the title themselves. Yet they somehow manage to score an inferior version of the game. I just don’t get it.
In the Audio department, Ghostbusters shows off its big guns. Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray all voiced their video game counterparts, adding real charm to the title. Proton blasts never sounded better. Even the ambient, mood-setting sounds were great. There were times in the beginning of the story that had me jumping out of my seat like a kid. The sounds were so gnarly I felt like I was playing Ghostbusters: Resident Evil. This game is to be enjoyed while pumped through a 5.1 surround sound setup.
In the end, I have to say that if you’re a fan of the movies and/or the cartoon back in the day and you haven’t already bought this game, what are you waiting for? If you’re too young to have had the pleasure of watching the movies or the cartoon when they first came out, give this game at least a rent with an open mind. It’s a great combination of action, good pacing, and great writing. It’s not just a good “movie” game; it’s a good game all around.