Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review
I once had a prejudice against games based on movies, TV shows, or any other established property really, but it has recently been broken. It was broken when I first played Batman: Arkham Asylum and it is further broken by my positive experience with the newest Ghostbusters video game.
I really did not expect much; quite the contrary, I went into it expecting it to be nothing more than just a half-baked cash grab attempt, knowing that Ghostbuster's fans such as I would take the bait. However the game exceeded my expectations greatly, and any fears I may have had vanished during level one. Firstly, fans will be pleased to know that the story was written by Egon and Ray themselves, Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd. Set in 1991, years after the events of Ghostbusters II, the player takes control of a nameless rookie Ghostbuster, who basically of course pretty much just exists to be the player's avatar being that he has no dialogue or major role in the story. I really love this choice, as the player is essentially the audience to an interactive film; that is to say, by not playing as one of the actual Ghostbusters, you can watch them interact with each other in a familiar similar way that they do in the movies while still being an active part of the game.
Another point of praise is that they managed to get all of the original talent from the movies to reprise their respective roles. Bill Murray returns as the wonderfully sarcastic yet charming Peter Venkman; Dan Akroyd provides Ray's voice; Ernie Hudson returns as the Ghostbusters' hired helper Winston, and Harold Ramis as the team's supergenius Egon.They even managed to bring in the original actors to voice Janine, the secretary, and hapless city official Walter Peck. The developers did a fantastic job of making each character resemble their live action counterparts (or rather, how they looked during the time of the original movies of course). Not only that, but they all give fantastic performances that further makes the game feels like the much wanted third installment of the movies. They all sounded like they were enjoying themselves as they slipped back into their old roles for the first time in two decades.
In the way of gameplay, I do believe it was quite well done for the most part. The ghost catching mechanics work differently than they do in Luigi's Mansion (you knew that comparison was inevitable); in this game, you blast the ghost with your proton stream to wear it down, then set a trap. Once they are in the trap's vaccum, you have to keep them within the confines of the vacuum until they are inside the trap, and that's that. While it's slightly more complicated, I found it to be, for the most part, a well handled method of ghost trapping. The only downside is that you can't have more than one ghost per trap, meaning you cannot capture multiple ghosts at once like you can in Luigi's Mansion. So even if the room is absolutely swarming with apparitions, you have to take them down one at a time. Fortunately however, you almost always have at least a couple other Ghostbusters, who gameplay wise serve as your AI teammates, to help you. However, they aren't very good at, if capable at all of, getting the ghosts into the traps by themselves (which figures, or else there would be less for the player to do). So basically you usually end up cleaning up the room yourself, and the AI partners are mainly just to guide you on where to go next and provide useful tips. Of course, sometimes the ghosts like to hide in objects. This is where your handy PKE meter comes into use (another wonderful movie reference). Most of the levels are pretty linear also, so getting lost is hardly ever an issue in this game. Speaking of levels, the game utilizes many familiar locales such as the Sedgewick Hotel, the Museum, and the sewers. It also features appearances from famous ghosts such as Slimer and Mr. Stay Puft, who appear as bosses. Call it fanservice, but even seeing them again is a treat.
Audio wise, the game also provides a nostalgia-riffic treat to the ears. The original band did the music, and the game new it was mandatory to have Ray Parker Jr.'s famous Ghostbusters theme. Most of the time, such as when the player is simply exploring and searching for paranormalities, there is just ambience (aside from an occasional music bit here and there). But the music for Rooms swarming with ghosts and bosses is epic and sets the mood well. The Ghostbusters gang talk to each other and the player all through the game similar to the real time communication in the Star Fox games. The game luckily does not encumber itself with tons and tons of cutscenes; there are plenty, but a good chunk of exposition and such is given by the Ghostbusters' talks with each other during gameplay, so as to interrupt play time as little as possible. Again, the original cast all fit right back into their roles and really sounded like they were having fun with what they were doing instead of just phoning in their performances, which gives the game a sense of "soul" that seems to be missing from many games these days. There are many witty and character appropriate lines and one liners from the Ghostbusters all throughout the game, and that in coalition with a fleshed out story, especially considering it was written by Akroyd and Ramis, really do make the game feel like Ghostbusters 3.
The main campaign is around 6 hours long. Also, somewhat surprinsingly, the game supports online multiplayer both competitively and with co-op. I do not have much experience online, though of course it isn't quite as populated as other "shooters" on PS3.
All in all, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is more than worth picking up if you are a fan of the series or just a gamer in general. While I did like it more than Luigi's Mansion, it has its own style. It's fun, funny, and does not get stale or repetitive. If you are looking for a good Ghostbusters/Ghost catching game and you've exhaused the one staring the green-clad plumber, look no further.