Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game – UPDATED MP Impressions

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I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan. Ever since I saw the first movie over 2 decades ago, I’ve dreamed of strapping on a Proton Pack and busting ghosts. Unfortunately, the history of Ghostbusters video game adaptations is not a rosy one. In truth, the games just downright blew. Whether it be the limitations of the technology, or simply poor design, the Ghostbusters just didn’t seem to have much luck with video games (although the Sega Genesis Ghostbusters game was rather enjoyable).

All that changes with the release of Terminal Realities’ Ghostbusters: The Video Game, on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. And while the game doesn’t hit all four cylinders, it is most certainly in tune with the vibe of the movies, and features some genuinely enjoyable, if not repetitive, ghostbusting antics.

It’s been widely documented that the films original cast of Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murry, and Ernie Hudson all lend their voices and likenesses to the story (as well as Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz, and Willian Atherton as the antagonistic Walter Peck), and Akroyd and Ramis penned the script of the game. The story takes place in 1991, 2 years after the events of the second movie, and follow the Ghostbusters and their new rookie recruit (that’d be you), as a new menace rears it’s head and threatens New York and life as we know it again.

The four principal Ghostbusters are spot on from their film counterparts in terms of delivery and performance, with really only Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman feeling a little bit off, despite Murray’s excellent delivery. I simply chalk this up to the fact that they haven’t played these roles in over 20 years, and are, understandably, rusty. The humor, while not gutbustingly funny certainly got more than a few chuckles and laughs out of me during the single player campaign, but the real joy was simply running around with the Ghostbusters, catching ghosts, and listening to them banter.
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As the new recruit, you have been given the job title of Experimental Equipment Tester, and it is up to you to, well, test out Egon’s new, and highly dangerous new Proton Pack improvements. Overall, there are 4 Proton Pack tools; Proton Stream, Boson Collider, Meson Collider, and Sime Blower. However, these 4 tools have a secondary fire, bringing the total weapon count to 8. These can all be upgraded using money you earn catching ghosts.

Gameplay is rather straightforward: you explore various locations throughout New York, utilizing your PKE Meter to scan the surrounding area for valences and disturbances, and when a spook appears, you first sap his energy with the best weapon (scanning a ghost with the PKE Meter will display information about the ghosts, including their weaknesses for certain weapons), and when the ghost is stunned, you will go into capture mode, where you must wrangle the ghost into a trap you have thrown out on the ground.

Not all ghosts need to be trapped, and some can simply be blown up with your attacks. Speaking of blowing things up, the game features quite a large number of environmental objects like tables, chairs, crates, etc, that can all be destroyed, adding to a tally of expenses that the city must pay for. There is no penalty for destroying this property, as Walter Peck (who is now in charge of keeping you in line), is the one forced to deal with these “accidents,” and, truthfully, anything that annoys Peck is a good thing.
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Visually, the game sports some fairly impressive graphics. The character models look rather close to their real life counterparts (albiet with a slight cartoony air), and backgrounds are detailed. Some of the animations are weak, however, which takes away from the humor of some of the dialogue (fans of the movies know that a lot of the humor of the Ghostbusters movies stemmed from the great facial reactions the cast had to each other and events in the movie). Special effects are fantastic, and the various enemy types you encounter (which you can scan and document in the Tobin’s Spirit Guide) are creative and wonderfully rendered.

As much as I enjoyed the game, it needs to be noted that there is plenty of repetition. The game, at it’s core, is a 3rd person shooter with the Ghostbusters. 8 weapons are a nice number of tools to have at your disposal, but in the end, you are essentially doing the same thing over and over again; catching or destroying ghosts. It’s fortunate that that core mechanic is so enjoyable that I looked forward to each and every ghost encounter.
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The difficulty didn’t seem to steep, and I only really encountered a few bugs here or there. Overall, the game is fairly polished, and highly enjoyable. The single player campaign is satisfying but also seemed to breeze by (although total playtime should be a good 10 hours), and I was left wanting more. Which I suppose is actually a good thing.

UPDATE: Now that Ghostbusters is on store shelves and, consequently, in the hands of eager fans, I’m able to say my peace on the multi-player aspect of the game. Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if it would be worth the time, considering that my primary interest in the title was for the single player with the original story and cast.

With that said, I’m very pleased to inform you all that the multi-player experience of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is, indeed, quite an enjoyable fair.

First off, there are 6 job types to undertake; Survival, Destruction, Containment, Protection, Thief, and Slime Dunk.

Survival is self explanatory. With you and your team of three other players trying to stay alive as long as possible against hordes of ghosts with ever increasing difficulties. Straightforward, and fun and frantic as the enemies get more devious.

Destruction has your team finding and destroying cursed artifacts that release ghosts as fast as you can before time runs out. Destroying the artifact will also eliminate whatever ghosts were spawned from it.  This mode is very straightforward, and I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either in comparison to the other modes.

Containment is the mode I’ve enjoyed the most thus far. It is exactly what you’re probably expecting; you and your pals are charged with capturing as many ghosts as possible within the time limit. Capturing ghosts gives you more time on the clock to, in turn, capture more ghosts. The feeling you get when you and your friends are working together, capturing ghosts as fast as possible is fantastic. After netting a particularly high ghost count, it’s hard pressed not to shout, “It’s Miller time!”

Protection is more than likely the most difficult of the modes, because you are tasked with protecting a PKE transmitter while it establishes it’s connection from hordes of enemies as they try to destroy it. Like Survival, the enemies get tougher each wave, and you and the team really must formulate a workable strategy and efficient weapon usage to complete the job.

Thief is a mode where you are tasked with protecting four glowing artifacts from being captures and taken away by mischievous ghosts.

Lastly, Slime Dunk has players using the Slime Tether ability to, literally, slam dunk Slimers into a Big Trap, with the player who actually dunked the ghost receiving the cash. This is the only competitive mode in the game, as the rest are all cooperative. I’m not a big competitive gamer, so I mostly stuck to the co-op modes.

On top of the rather enjoyable gameplay modes, players receive cash for a job well done, which accumulates until the player ranks up. The ranking system will grant players bonuses for their skills (ie, a higher level Stasis Stream), and their uniforms will change according to their rank.

There are also “Most Wanted Ghosts,” that appear in your stats menu. These ghosts may appear during special scenarios in your MP session, according to your level. Collecting these most wanted ghosts will net you a nice bonus, and cross them off of your list.

All in all I have to say that the MP offering of Ghostbusters is solid enough for any fan of the series to appreciate and have a blast in (no pun intended), as pairing up with three other friends and taking down a baddie really makes you feel like a Ghostbuster. In the end, however, I doubt that non-fans will find much here to entice them away from the myriad of other multi-player offerings out there.

And so my verdict remains.

VERDICT: RENT – I wasn’t sure if my Ghostbusters fanboyism was clouding my judgment, but in the end, Ghostbusters is an enjoyable video game whether you are a longtime fan or never heard of the series, although I’m still recommending it as a rent. The multi-player offering is most certainly a lot of fun, but I doubt that it has enough meat on it’s bones to keep hardcore players and non-Ghostbusters fans entertained for too long. This is by far one of the most solid rentals of the year so far, and I highly recommend it as just that.

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