Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Ghostbusters The Game - Who You Gonna Call?

Posted on November 24, 2009 at 1:26 PM


Being marketed as official canon, Ghostbusters the videogame could have been utterly horrible. In fact, let’s face it, most expected something, at best, mediocre in the long line of mediocre licenced games. Then we find out that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are behind the story and the entire cast is back to reprise their voices (even Annie Potts).

Ok, interest jumped ten points.

Then we see video actually looks like Ghostbusters. The sound, the voices, the music, it’s all there.

Ok, I have to play this game.

Well, finally I did...and it’s pretty good. It’s not perfect by any means, but if it gets anything absolutely 100% right (and the one thing people would want exactly right) it’s the atmosphere. It has that light, fun tone Ghostbusters is known for. The humor, even the few scares, and the weird spook-babble is all there in true form. You can tell from the voices the actors are older, much older than the game’s setting of 1991, but they still manage to pull it off with wit, charisma and, well, personality which I think a lot were afraid the game would lack and just be a cash-in. The fact they got that aspect down to a “t” is amazing.

The game has some problems, though. While it has the tone right, the setting, the music and truly makes you feel like you’re capturing ghosts, it is definitely rough-around-the-edges in terms of the gameplay. Much of the “bustin” (to make me feel good) is tedious and repetitive and there are times when there’s so much stuff happening that you’ll be lucky to stand on your feet for more than 10 seconds before being knocked down or out and one your buddies come and saves you.

Much of its gameplay can be found in Gears of War, an obvious inspiration from the controls and perspectives setting only without the cover ability. If you’ve played Gears of War without taking cover, you’ll know you get hit...a lot. Most likely you’ll die and wait for someone to save you. That is exactly what happens with Ghostbusters and probably its biggest flaw. This is no more apparent than in the boss fights where there’s so many things bombarding you, you’ll be lucky to even find a place to stand. Perhaps a better dodge feature would have helped this, or maybe I just suck it at.

As you go around bustin and capturing and trying to not get hit, you have the choice of four weapons. The game does a pretty solid job making three of them relevant to the gameplay. The final one, sort of a machine-gun rapid fire buster thing, is pretty useless especially if you’ve upgraded the other weapons. Although the upgrades are pretty basic if not shallow, and there could have been so much more in terms of customization here, they get the job done and make you feel as though you are improving and becoming more powerful. Your pack, at least...let’s not forget these are normal guys doing normal things only with illegal proton packs on their back.

The other major piece of equipment is your PKE meter. This is another aspect that becomes extremely repetitive. What’s worse is that you spend a lot of time looking at it, whether it’s a ghost or hidden collectible item on the level, and you see everything through your goggles in first person in doing so. This is just boring, there’s no if ands or buts around it. It was necessary, you are hunting ghosts, but the constant switching back and forth just becomes a chore and by the time you reach the third level, you don’t even care anymore. You’ll just find yourself running along waiting for the ghosts and enjoying the nice level design.

Speaking of which, I have to say the aesthetics of game is spot on. It’s not fully realistic looking but not cartoony either. It’s a perfect balance, and the levels and ghosts are all designed incredibly well and the character animations and expressions absolutely perfect despite some occasional bugs and glitches of your comrades not aware there’s a ghost right next to them. Like I said, the atmosphere is just perfect and for this kind of game, that’s really all you need. It truly does feel like the third movie.

On a final note, much has been said about the length. Yes, it is short. You’ll beat in a weekend. However, I really didn’t have a problem with this. What’s there is really good, nothing feels like it’s merely filler or stretched out and the set pieces are as memorable as they were in the movies. Because of the repetitive nature of the gameplay, having it short is actually a blessing because you eventually reach a point at the end where you want it to end. It’s streamlined and focused and gets the job done, tells a great story along with a solid presentation and truly makes you feel like you’re a ghostbuster, with them, fighting with them and loving every minute of it just like when you were eight and ran around the backyard with your proton pack and dressing your dogs up in sheets so they can be the ghosts...well, maybe that was just me.

Signing Off



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