Developer Terminal Reality and Publisher Atari present an experience that most of us have been waiting twenty five years for…to become the fifth Ghostbuster. It would be unfair of me not to tell you that I am a huge fan of this movie franchise, and I was heartbroken last year when this game was due to release on Halloween and Activision dropped it from their schedule. Atari are officially my heroes now, picking up the project and finally releasing the game into my greedy little hands. Oh and Terminal Reality? You’re getting a nice fruit basket come the holidays.
Ghostbusters: The Videogame is a third person blast-a-thon with some minor puzzles, this pseudo mission based action title is fun, fast, and above all else, heart-warmingly familiar and nostalgic.
Who’s the stiff?
Well, that’s you, taking the role of the “rookie”. The reason? The Ghostbusters need an experimental equipment technician and Ray can’t do the job because he holds the mortgage to the Ghostbusters HQ. It’s a hazardous occupation but you’re up for it, especially if you like your movie based games to add something to the stories upon which they are based. Taking place in 1991 Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a direct continuation of the first two films. Written by the duo responsible for those earlier works (Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) this story finds our heroes still gainfully employed as Paranormal Investigators and Eliminators. The object of the writing is clearly to not only have the player take part in supernatural adventures, but also to make the player feel as though they are a part of the movie world and the Ghostbusters team. I will not discuss the plot in this review as it is very important to the enjoyment of the game as a whole. This is not some throw away story, this is third OFFICIAL Ghostbusters tale. To spoil it for you would be a crime.
Do you know how much a Patent Clerk earns?
The brilliance of the writing shines through in the expertly voiced script. All four original actors return to lend their vocal skills to their characters. Returning along with the aforementioned Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz) and Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler) are Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore and Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman. The presence of these four really puts you right into that fantastic world created on the silver screen back in 1984. The one liners are funny and never seem cheap, and the cutscene dialogue makes you feel as though you are watching a third Ghostbusters film. One of the best additions to the game though is Annie Potts reprising her role as the Ghostbusters cynical secretary Janine Melnitz. All of her lines are great and she sounds completely convincing as she answers the phone and talks to customers. Missing are Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett and Rick Moranis, although Moranis’ lovably nerdy Louis Tully is mentioned in the game as you find his desk at the GB fire house HQ, along with a note explaining his absence. Even William Atherton showed up as Walter Peck, the antagonistic member of the Environmental Protection Agency. Only in the 80s could the EPA be the bad guys, and in 1991 things haven’t changed much.
Dana, are these the eggs?
There is no Dana, only…Alyssa Milano? Yep. Alyssa Milano is on board to voice Llyssa, the new love interest of Pete Venkman. She does a pretty good job too, although I found myself straining to hear the similarities between the video game Ilyssa and the real life actress. Her voice is nice and all, but not really distinctive enough to me for them to bill her as a leading role in the game. They really could have gotten any female voice actor, but it doesn’t take away anything from the game. The character model looks like her and that is a good thing.
You’re never gonna regret this Ray!
This game borrows almost exclusively from Gears of War and Dead Space. It is an over the shoulder third person action game. The controls are nicely responsive and anyone familiar with the above two titles will be right at home here. They even have a sprint button which, when used, makes your character run in an almost motion captured version of Ray Stantz’s mad dash to save Venkman after the classic “sliming” segment. The main task you have is of course, busting ghosts. It’s fairly methodical yet always fun. The tutorial mission involves a familiar “ugly little spud” escaping from a containment unit and then it’s up to you to follow Ray’s orders and hunt it down. Here you learn the basics of trapping ghosts which are…
1) You weaken the spirit using your Proton stream.
2) You then capture the beast in a containment beam and then wrangle it around.
3) You throw a ghost trap down and when it heats up you attempt to drag the ghost over top.
4) When the trap opens you wrestle with the ghost, holding it above the trap until it is sucked inside.
Voila! You busted a ghost! The starting weapons are the Proton Stream but you soon have the “Boson Dart” add-on fired with the secondary fire button. Egon keeps adding weapons to your pack periodically until you eventually have all four, each with a secondary mode of fire. There are a few fights in the latter half of the game that feel a bit too challenging…almost to the point of being annoying. You’ll know them when you come to them, but they are not game breaking so they can be forgiven. There are certain battle segments that more than make up for any of the games’ shortcomings, and again, I will not spoil them for you, but trust me, they are well worth the price of admission.
No job is too big, no FEE is too big…
For all of your busting of the supernatural baddies you earn cash which can be spent on upgrading your weapons and equipment. Weapons become more powerful, and you will need them. Not all of the enemies can be captured in ghost traps. You will encounter certain forms of inanimate objects that combine themselves when possessed by spirits to form Golems or other nasties. These need to be taken out with brute force. The equipment upgrades mainly focus on your PKE Meter which is the Ghostbusters scanning device. The PKE is used to search out hidden ghosts, objects, or ectoplasmic residue and the upgrades involve making it a more efficient and powerful tracking device. The main feature of the scanning is to learn the weaknesses of your enemies. Each baddie scanned shows up in the “Tobin Spirit Guide”, the book first mentioned by Egon in the Ghostbusters film. You can access this handy info at any time in the pause menu and are not only given the stats of each creature, you are also given a history. This was a really nice touch that immerses you even more into the game world.
This place is great! You gotta try this pole!
Between missions you get to hang around the Ghostbusters HQ. The old fire house looks identical to the sets used in the films, except with a little more decoration. The hidden collectible objects that you find scattered throughout the mission maps are stored here in certain places, and an added bonus are the answering machine messages. They are definitely worth listening to. You are also treated to conversations with a certain evil painting that fans of the films will no doubt be familiar with, along with a very animated toaster. And yes, you can slide down the pole.
We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!
The multiplayer in Ghostbusters is more than the standard fare. A unique twist on the familiar game modes will keep things fresh for some time to come. Playing as the famous four with your buddies is nothing short of surreal, and teaming up with a pal to bust ghosts is a great time. Strangely there is no split screen co-op. I found that an odd thing to omit because that seems to be a more common trend to include.
The visual presentation of the Ghostbusters universe is exceptional. The details of the characters are spot on, along with the weaponry and especially the Proton Pack. Since you will be spending a ton of time staring at the back of your in-game avatar, the devs really went all out with the detail of your backpack. The ghosts look great as do the lighting effects and the Proton Streams. The newer weapon discharges are creative and look like things right out of Egon’s brilliant scientific mind. The ghost trapping is straight out of the films and should put a smile on the face of any fan. The environments are creepy in all the right places. They serve the story well and are detailed pleasing to the eye. And the destructive power of the Ghostbusters arsenal can really add a lot of pop to the scenes, as virtually everything can be destroyed. Your missed Proton discharges leave smoldering scorch marks all over walls and ceilings…just like the movies have demonstrated.
The sounds are exactly like those from the films. They don’t get more exact than this. To top it off? The entire movie soundtrack is your gaming soundtrack, so just when you thought the experience couldn’t get more authentic the music kicks in. Wonderful. During combat when you throw the Proton Streams at your targets if you close your eyes you would swear you were listening to the movie. And after combat there is nothing like hearing the soothing beeping of your ghost trap as it sits on the ground housing a recently collected spirit.
If you loved the films then this is the game that you have been waiting for. If you kept playing emulated versions of the Commodore 64 Ghostbusters game or you bought The Real Ghostbusters on DVD the day it was released then you will be in heaven here. This is a game made by the fans for the fans. It is an homage to the faithful, directly from the minds of the creators. It is a fanboys wet dream. From the moment you load it up and you see the New York street bustling with traffic in front of the Ghostbusters HQ you will be playing out a childhood fantasy. You get to work side by side with Ray, Egon, Winston, and Peter. You become their partner in a hilarious romp of supernatural proportions.
If you aren’t a fan of the films then you might not find anything special here. You might simply think it to be yet another third person action game. That’s fine. The game obviously is not for you then. This one is for the fans…FINALLY!
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:8.0, Sound:9.0, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:9.5 Final: 8.3 / 10
Reviewed by VonAwesome | 06.26.09
- Finally a game based on Ghostbusters!
- Great to look at
- Great to listen to
- Continues the Ghostbusters story and written by Aykroyd and Ramis
- Main cast reprises voice roles
- Catching ghosts is just as fun as you imagined
- May be “old hat” to some
- Might not appeal to non fans
- The thought that there might actually be non fans of Ghostbusters