Released: June 19, 2009
Available on: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 2, PSP, Wii, DS
Summary Judgment: An excellent third chapter of the franchise, Ghostbusters delivers a genuinely enjoyable video gaming experience. Despite some minor technical flaws, the game captures the slapstick, dry wit and fun that has made Ghostbusters a silver screen classic.
To say that video games based on movies are often derivative cash grabs is to invite understatement. With few exceptions movie tie-ins and movie-inspired video games are, for good reason, the gamers’ absolute bane. Thank Gozer for the fact that Ghostbusters by Atari and Terminal Reality is one of those rare gems where the big name license does not turn the title into an albatross. Although Ghostbusters does suffer from some minor technical issues, these hitches pale in comparison to the giddy joy one derives upon hearing their positron collider charge up for the first time.
Fans of the Ghostbusters franchise will be relieved to know that the game is not a half-baked attempt to reboot a classic for the modern audience. Instead, players will find a narrative that very closely follows established Ghostbusters canon. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis penned the single player campaign, which takes about five to eight hours to complete depending on how much time you spend chasing valences on your PKE meter. Aykroyd and Ramis are joined by Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and William Atherton (You remember Walter “Pecker Head” Peck, right?) to round out the game’s stellar voice acting.
Ghostbusters’ game play also demonstrates Terminal Reality’s commitment to presenting a genuine paranormal extermination experience. Assuming the role of an unnamed rookie Ghostbuster, players are taught the fine art of wearing a ghost down with blasts from your proton pack and then wrangling it into a trap. Yes, you can cross the streams but as all your fellow Ghostbusters will warn you, it would be bad, very bad, to do so. And remember; don’t look directly into the trap. With a wide variety of specters to chase, all of which can be scanned with a PKE meter and catalogued into Tobin’s Spirit Guide, and a good number of upgrades for the proton pack, the basic formula of the game manages to avoid becoming repetitive.
As a third person, over-the-shoulder shooter, Ghostbusters’ control scheme and uncluttered user interface should be very familiar for anybody who has sampled the Gears of War franchise. The player’s health and the proton pack’s heat level are clearly displayed on the pack itself. The in-game engine beautifully renders Ghostbusters’ environments, which range from the ballroom of the Sedgwick Hotel to the ghost dimension itself. Free of visual obstructions, players can marvel at familiar confection based phantasms stomping through Times Square, spend time dodging slime bottles thrown by legions of hobo ghosts, or utterly destroy New York with blasts of negatively charged protons.
However, a few minor technical glitches merit mentioning. During some of the in-game cut scenes there are noticeable flaws in the lip synch. Frame rate also tends to get a bit sluggish when there are a few too many ghosts on the screen. Occasionally the game spikes from a median difficulty and ramps up the challenge to a painfully masochistic level. Gamers prone to throwing controllers during fits of frustration are advised to pop a vicodin when Walter Peck gets possessed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ghostbusters pushes the original motion picture soundtrack to the breaking point. Do we really need to hear the big bad Gozer theme every time a poltergeist jumps out of a painting? Fortunately, these issues are not a serious determent to game play.
On a positive note, Ghostbusters bucks the convention of tacking on a run of the mill “Deathmatch, Co-Op, Capture the Flag” multiplayer; instead opting for an online career mode. Teams of four players can work together to survive wave after wave of ghosts, destroy cursed objects, capture ghosts within a time limit or hunt after a hit list of the twenty most wanted ghosts. All of the multiplayer variants are built around co-operation, but naturally some busters will shine brighter than others. Good performance in the multiplayer career is tracked through Xbox Live and the Playstation Network allowing for a rank progression, proton pack upgrades, extra uniforms and other goodies.
Notwithstanding Peter’s refusal to let the rookie drive Ecto-1, Ghostbusters the video game delivers everything that fans of the franchise could expect. A script loaded with deadpan humour, game play that is accessible to even the most casual gamer, strong visuals and authentic music and sound effects create a gaming experience that will introduce the Ghostbusters to a new generation while leaving the veterans’ fond memories of the eighties safely intact.
Overall Score: 80%