Let me gets this out of the way now; I am a huge Ghostbusters fan and have been ever since I saw both movies for the first time in 1995. Since then I’ve seen the films over a million times and can recite lines verbatim. Now between the movies, the cartoon series and line of merchandise Ghostbusters had a pretty rich history. However when it came to video games fellow ghostheads around the country were sorely disappointed time and time again. (Valkor’s note: I actually like the Sega Genesis version) So in early 2007 when a new Ghostbusters video was announced for the nex-gen consoles I freaked. Soon after game play footage and screenshots began to surface and as soon as I could, I put in my reserve at my local GameStop. Well, the game has finally been released on June 16, 2009 and I have played it at least 4 times by now. Did the game live up to the franchises’ 25 year history and to the expectations of ghostbusting enthusiasts of all types? Or was it another disappointment.
I am proud to report that game not only lived up to the hype but exceeded my personal expectations. Let’s begin with the story, now without giving away too much, basically you the player have been brought on as a new experimental equipment technician which means that you get to try out all of Egon’s new and untested toys to make sure they don’t end up blowing themselves up. In true Ghostbusters fashion almost as soon as you join the team a new paranormal threat has been triggered causing an uprising in unruly spirits who go bump in the night and it’s up to yourself and the original boys in grey to bump back. From beginning to end the story is extremely captivating and draws the player in right off the bat, not to mention it’s filled with clever plot twists and of course the traditional Ghostbusters humor which was always a staple of the franchise. The player gets to face some old enemies such as everyone’s favorite spud Slimer and new enemies as well. Also the story takes the player to new and familiar locations such as the Sedgewick Hotel from the first movie. When the player completes the game you really feel like you played through and watched a story that could easily have been Ghostbusters 3.
Second let’s discuss the overall look of the game. Terminal Reality which developed the Playstaion 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game definitely put a lot of time and effort into presenting the gamer with lively and real looking environments; the game was never boring to look at. The graphics were also very well made, the original busters look exactly who they are supposed to look like which adds to the gameplay experience because you feel like you are really fighting side by side with these legendary paranormal investigators and eliminators. A main aspect of the graphics was the new physics engine the Infernal Engine developed in-house by Terminal Reality. While there were some problems they were only minor and the physics engine, in my opinion was revolutionary. Throughout the game you can use your proton pack to literally destroy anything and everything in the environments you play through so this definitely fed my somewhat destructive side. It never got boring looking around at how much I’ve destroyed after fighting with a few specters. However, one problem I found was some mistakes in the CGI scenes where, for example, in one scene you see the Rookie with the full pack with all the attachments and in the next camera angle he has the normal pack again. A minor annoyance, but I often wondered if they really paid attention when they were finishing up the CGI scenes. Also some stiff animation in the in-game cutscenes take away from the idea of watching a new movie unfold before your eyes. Voice work also get an A+, it seems as though Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson effortlessly have reprised their film roles. From Egon giving you technical info to Ray getting really excited about fighting an enemy to Peter giving his trademark one liners, the player can easily become more immersed in this new chapter of the Ghostbusters universe
Ghostbusters essentially boils down to running around catching ghost right? Well in this game Terminal Reality took that concept and amplified it. You get 4 different equipment types each with its own secondary firing mode. With this equipment you either destroy certain enemies or weaken a ghost long enough to wrangle them into you trap. As your fighting and wrangling these ghosts you get the feeling like your fishing because once you get a ghost in your capture stream, expect one hell of a fight trying to get them into the trap. For each ghost you capture or destroy you earn money which you can use to upgrade all you equipment. Here the developers made this process rather stress free because, as with Infamous in my earlier review, with some clever spending and saving the player can have a fully upgraded proton pack by at least the second to last mission in the game. Also another interesting aspect is your damage tally; as you try to catch these specters, the room around you gets completely wrecked. This leads to two achievements or trophies which are definitely a lot of fun to get. Now even though the basic game play of wrangling and trapping ghosts or destroying an enemy while laying waste to the room around you is fun there are some problems which can cause great frustration. First off the AI in the game can be difficult to deal with sometimes because in the game you have to either revive the other ghostbusters when they get knocked down of wait for them to help you and more often than not I felt like I was doing most of the work while running around helping the other busters, if they are supposed to be the professionals then why don’t they know when to dodge an enemy projectile. What often made me want to throw my controller was when I would get knocked down and the other would take their time getting to me and get knocked out themselves and its game over. It is very frustrating to deal with but often you can get right back into the gameplay experience as long as you can deal with this minor annoyance.
Another aspect of the game is its’ multiplayer. There are five multiplayer modes Survival, Containment, Slime Dunk, Protection and Thief where the players can either play as the Rookie from single player or they can step into the boots of the original four Ghostbusters. Now while the multiplayer is fun, there really are no other perks other than playing as your favorite buster and unlocking new suit types as you rank up. This was my main problem with multiplayer: the lackluster ranking up system. Even though a new suit is cool you don’t get any other bonuses. Even though you can select any equipment type, you always get the proton stream as a permanent weapon and the others as a temporary weapon that can only be used a set amount of times. Even with the bad ranking up system the game modes themselves are still a lot of fun to play. You can either select to do a campaign of three maps from the single player where the job types for each board are random or you can select to do an individual job type like my personal favorite Survival. But in my opinion multiplayer rarely makes the whole game, which in this case it’s all about the single player story.
Overall, even with some technical issues in the CGI scenes and in-game cutscenes, a very frustrating AI and health system and a relatively simple multiplayer layout, the game was still a love letter to Ghostbuster fans of all ages. Terminal Reality definitely put a lot of time and effort into presenting an authentic Ghostbusters experience. The overall game play is a ton of fun, the games achievements and trophies are actually fun to get, the characters and voicework takes me back to the first movie and of course the story was definitely authentic in the Ghostbusters mythos. So my overall rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars so whether you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters or the average gamer I’d say get out there and pick up this title.