Ghostbusters: The Video Game ReviewBy Matt Keil - Posted Jun 17, 2009
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a new chapter in the Ghostbusters mythos, telling the story of the boys' encounter with followers of Gozer two years after Ghostbusters 2. Instead of picking one of the four founders, you play a new Ghostbuster recruit tasked with toting the experimental gear that could potentially explode or worse.
- Tremendous fan service
- Satisfying ghost capturing
- Original cast and dialogue are great
- Underwhelming multiplayer
- Long load times after death
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a new chapter in the Ghostbusters mythos, telling the story of the boys' encounter with followers of Gozer two years after Ghostbusters 2. Instead of picking one of the four founders, you play a new Ghostbuster recruit tasked with toting the experimental gear that could potentially explode or worse. The story focuses on followers of Gozer attempting to bring the Sumerian god back for revenge, and could have easily been adapted into a third film. The writing is sharp and on target the majority of the time. Even better, it manages to capture the humor and tone of the first film, which it wisely leverages heavily. In fact, it’s really too bad that this story wasn’t used for Ghostbusters 2, but at least with the second film the game designers had a solid example of what not to do.
“Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis? What is that, a law firm?”
The Ghostbusters are all voiced by their original film actors, as are secretary Janine and bureaucratic scumbag Walter Peck. Performances are good all around, with everyone sounding in-character and involved, as opposed to some celebrity voice appearances in which you can practically see them standing in the recording booth waiting for it to be over. Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson in particular do a great job of conveying required gameplay and objective information while still making it sound like something their characters would say naturally.
The presentation is mostly top notch, from the environments packed with in-jokes and nods to other Ghostbusters outings to the PKE meter menu system to the way your HUD info is entirely contained within the proton pack on your character’s back. The only real issues that crop up are some stiff animation moments in places and a strange bit at the very end in which dialogue plays over the end credits that really seems like it should have been a full scene.
“Nice shootin’, Tex”
Gameplay is third-person shooting in a vaguely Gears of War manner. The weighty character you control isn’t too agile, although a dodge move will get you out of immediate danger most of the time. It doesn’t feel unfair or bad, though, especially since carrying 100 pounds of unlicensed nuclear accelerator on your back would probably impact your agility somewhat.
Your pack starts as a standard proton thrower, used to wear down and then capture ghosts using the iconic trap. Capturing ghosts is often a struggle, and emulates the on-screen process very well. Fights can be chaotic and messy, but somehow it fits the slapdash, “It should work in theory” feel of the Ghostbusters’ methods in the films. The inclusion of extremely destructible environments indicates that the developers were aware of the chaos and wanted to capture that element in the game, and they have succeeded. Bringing a ghost down into a trap after a tough fight and surveying the usually substantial collateral damage is always satisfying.
Eventually Egon adds a bunch of other weaponry to the packs, including a stun beam and a slime blower, one of the mercifully few references to the second movie. Secondary fire on each weapon type adds flexibility, particularly the slime blower’s slime tether option, which lets you anchor ghosts to objects or pull objects toward one another using the tensile strength of green goo.
“Why Am I Dripping With Goo?”
Get slimed or smacked by your spectral foes too often and you'll be incapacitated and forced to wait for one of your comrades to help out. The ally AI is actually solid, and the other busters will back you up adequately, although they do tend to fire for effect more than fire effectively. If all the Ghostbusters including you are down for the count, you fail the mission and have to wait through a ridiculous 30 second load screen to try again. This is the one truly frustrating part of the otherwise enjoyable 6 to 8 hour solo campaign. While it’s overall fairly easy, choke points like a battle against stone angels whose objective is rather poorly explained can lead to a lot of time spent looking at that load screen
Multiplayer is somewhat disappointing, with the supposed "co-op campaign" amounting to little more than a playlist of three maps per campaign with different game types slapped onto them. Granted, it’s better than nothing, but you might as well just play the modes separately and save the trouble. There are several to choose from, including good variants on King of the Hill and a great competitive “Slime Dunk” mode. The star of multiplayer is Survival, which sends endless waves of ghosts at you and up to three friends, escalating the number and types of ghosts in a sort of paranormal take on Horde mode. It’s this mode that will get you working together as a team to bust ghosts in as quick and orderly a fashion as possible, and this is when the online play is at its best.
“I Love This Town”
It’s hard to hold the minor flaws against Ghostbusters too much when it revels in the trappings of the franchise so well. Sharp-eyed fans will spot references to everything busting-related, from the films to the animated series. It’s worth just wandering around the firehouse to see all the little details and in-jokes packed into every room of the building.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is very likely to provoke positive feelings as a result of ghost extermination activities. It was clearly made by Ghostbusters fans who love the property and wanted to do it justice, and as far as this fan is concerned, they have.