The moment the rumors began that Terminal Reality was developing a video game surrounding the world of the Ghostbusters, the buzz has never quite come to a complete stop. All of the hype surrounding the game began before the original four signed up as voice talent for the game. As you know, it got much worse as soon as as it was found out that Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the script.
With all of the excitement surrounding the story and high-profile characters, the general public forgot all about the gameplay. That’s quite alright! Terminal Reality stepped into some very large shoes, and they filled them with flying colors…or would that be bright, streaming proton particles?
In the opening cinematic you’re suddenly transported back almost two decades ago to a time when you’d actually hear Ray Parker Jr’s song on the radio, and people wore Ghostbusters T-shirts proudly. It’ll hearken you back onto a time where the phrase, “who you gonna call?”, was actually popular.
Goofyness aside, you’re immediately thrust into high production values, and a beautiful cinematic experience that is top-notch throughout the entire game. It really all begins the moment you hear the voice of Janine inside the firehouse. “Ghostbusters, what’dya want?” Yeah, bustin’ this time around is going to make you feel really, really good.
Exploring the firehouse is the perfect way to begin your journey as the fifth member of the Ghostbusters. It’s the perfect digital tour, and reminder of the previous adventures you’ve already likely experienced in the two films previous. There’s even a giant talking paining of Vigo the Carpathian hanging on the wall, and he’ll randomly spout of lines from Ghostbusters II as you walk by. It’s spine-chillingly beautiful.
The real treat begins the moment you walk upstairs and interact with Ray, Egon, and Peter for the very first time. It’s somewhat strange to realize, but you don’t actually have a name throughout the entire game. Instead, you’re character is referred to at “the rookie” or “young blood”, or some similar phrase or terminology. Throughout the entire game they call you everything under the sun, but never by a name. Why? Well, you’re the new equipment tester, and you could get blown sky high. They don’t want to be attached to you very heavily.
The films are more about the writing and comedy then they are about the special effects and actions. Obviously a video game cannot rely on writing to get it through poor game play, and Terminal Reality steps in and within five minutes of starting the game you’re chasing after good ‘ol Slimer. The tutorial takes place in the basement of the firehouse, where Ray Stanz walks you through trapping your first ghost. The passionate voice acting combined with witty writing really pulls you in, and you never want to be let go. Even though you never speak, you’re a Ghostbuster. No doubt about it.
No average paranormal enthusiast would have access to some of the amazing gear the Ghostbusters have on hand. PKE Meter and Goggles, Proton Pack, and the Trap are your tools of the trade and you live, or die by them. You’re first tool is the PKE Meter: it allows you to sleuth throughout New York City, searching for any paranormal energy that is making a spike. Tied with your goggles, it aids you in searching for collectible items that are invisible to the naked eye. You’ll be scanning monsters, and collecting cursed artifacts. Oh, and don’t forget the mold, spores, and small harmless creatures you’ll pick up along the way, which only add to the atmosphere of the game.
This treasure hunt adds to the longevity of the title significantly. You’re told where you can find the extra treasures, and how many you have left to find. The completionist ghost will possess you, and you’ll want to play again. (Especially when it involves achievements and trophies, right?)
Trying to describe the actual gameplay is honestly quite challenging. At first glance it seems like a cross between Gears of War 2 and Luigi’s Mansion, but the ghost catching is so much deeper than just firing the Proton Pack. At its core, Ghostbusters is a third person shooter: there’s no denying that. Your weaponry may be incredibly unique, but you’re still “shooting” the ghosts. After you wear them down, firing a capture beam is as simple as hitting the left bumper. Slam them around for awhile, then wrangle them into your trap. Repeat. Honestly? It never, ever gets old!
In all seriousness however, this formula does change, as many times there are ghosts out there that you simply want to vaporize. Some of the other functions of your new proton pack allow you to fire short bursts of damaging stasis stream, similar to shotgun fire. Because you’re the new gadget guy, your upgraded often throughout the game with new attacks, and new ways to take down the ghosts. Each of the ways present a new type of ghost warfare tactics, along with the opportunity to upgrade further one with the cash you earn from scanning ghosts and finding collectibles. Maxing it out is important near the final levels of the game.
The locations you visit throughout are familiar, yet unique. You’ve been to the Sedgewick Hotel before, but never to fully explore its flooded hallways. Running through the streets of New York City from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a familiar scene, but you’ve never been in control of the action before. There is a crazy castle, a ghoulish Central Park, and many other places that you will want to explore in detail.
The world is beautifully rendered, and the design of each of the characters is superb. Keeping with the look and feel of the original films, they developed a fully realized, and beautifully colorful world. From the Firehouse, to the Museum, you will be in for a treat as you visit these iconic Ghostbusters locations. In regards to the story…it is perfect for the Ghostbusters lore. In fact, it does an excellent job tying together first two films. You could not ask for more out of this world, and it is satisfying to say the least. But no game, no world, and no amount of story-telling can be done without the quality voice acting done in this game.
The original cast for Ghostbusters returning to the scene really brings everything to life. Even the siren for the Ecto-1 gives you a shiver of nostalgia as you play through the game. The original four must have had a good time coming back to old roles, because you can definitely feel and hear the passion in their voices. Even Bill Murray is able to throw in some classic one-liners, and you feel right at home. It’s the perfect package. Superbly detailed locations will bring back memories, and iconic characters will come to life once more. The amazing writing will make you laugh, ‘as long as you’re not a sour puss! The gameplay is solid, with little to no noticeable bugs or problems. Trapping ghosts is a satisfying experience.
Oh, yeah! There’s multiplayer too!
For this sort of cinematic experience, it is surprising that multiplayer is even a thought, much less an oversight. Terminal Reality comes through again, and provides an addicting cooperative multiplayer experience.
Ghostbusters includes two basic multiplayer game modes known as Instant Action or Campaign mode. No, there isn’t campaign co-op, and it was a slight mistake in word choice. These two modes take place over twelve different maps that are a variety of locations in the streets, museum, cemetery, and the library. You’ll be able to play through six different job types, some similar to capture the flag, or even a Survival mode that is very similar to the now popular “Horde” mode from Gears of War 2. There are statistics that track how well you do, along with a leveling system involving how much cash you earn from clearing the outpouring of paranormal enemies.
Your encouragement to play through all the multiplayer modes will be strengthened by plenty of achievements to unlock for completing various tasks and ranking up to a certain level. It is the perfect ending to an almost perfect game. All of this bubbling over of positive things to say about the game are hindered by two very important problems. The first is game length.
Ghostbusters clocks in at about ten hours of gameplay on the medium difficulty, and you can earn most of the multiplayer achievements in another five hours or so. Everything seems a bit on the short side. On one hand people claim lazy development; on the other, it looks like people just like it so much they want more of the Ghostbusters to play as. Overall, it is a bit of a problem due to the game’s full retail price tag. The second problem is the loading times. For the single player, it often can take 30-40 seconds to load every time that you die. This is unacceptable, considering on the hardest difficulty you die more often than you would think.
That being said, the two aforementioned problems still aren’t enough to keep the overall experience from being incredibly spectacular. Perhaps the greatest single reason that many will pick up Ghostbusters The Video Game is because it is the final chapter in what has become a trilogy of comedy, horror, romance, and action.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
Ghostbusters's loading times are the only real detraction from the presentation of the game. Otherwise, the art direction is beautifully put together, and simultaneously nostalgic.
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Bustin' makes you feel good! The gameplay could not have been executed better, and it's incredible simple to pick up and play.
Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson are enough to solidify the perfect cast. Oh, and the soundtrack from the movie is included!
You can never get enough Ghostbusters, and the short amount of time (10 hours) it takes to complete the game doesn't help. Sure, there's multiplayer, but you still want more.
Overall, Ghostbusters The Video Game excels in the gameplay department, and somehow manages to give us an updated experience of the same old ghost catching troupe we know and love.