Twenty-five years after the Ghostbusters first defeated the marshmallow manifestation of Gozer the Destroyer, they are once again tasked with saving Manhattan (and the universe) from the mass hysteria of dogs and cats living together. There’s a lot of anticipation seeing this beloved franchise rise from its grave, but after so much time away, there’s also a lot of questions. Do I have to pay Huey Lewis royalties if I’m humming the Ghostbusters theme while I’m writing this review? Do they still make Ecto-Cooler? And most importantly, is the game too hot to handle AND
too cold to hold?
Well, I can help answer that last question at least… if I understand it correctly. Let’s just say that the crucial part of a Ghostbusters game is nailing the correct look and feel of Ghostbusters and this does that very well. From the dialogue to the character animations to the constant references to the movies, it is very clear to see that a lot of detail (and a lot of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) went in to ensuring this game was wrought with authenticity and fan-service. All your favorite characters and ghosts from the movies make appearances or are at least mentioned in some fashion as you learn the ropes as the new fifth Ghostbuster. And while putting you into the shoes of “new guy” may seem like a rote game mechanic, I actually thought it worked pretty well as it allowed for the personalities of Peter, Egon, Ray, and Winston to play out without taking you out of character.
The game itself is a linear third-person shooter that is solid, but doesn’t really stand out apart from having the Ghostbusters license. You of course get to strap on a Proton Pack and blast away with the proton streams and hose away with the Slime Gun from the second movie. Two additional nozzles are introduced in the game and every weapon has a secondary fire mode – the most fun of which is the Slime Gun’s Slime Tether which allows you to elastically tie down ghosts. At first the weapons seem a little loose to control, but as you earn money by destroying and capturing specters, upgrades become available that make wrangling ghosts into traps much more enjoyable.
Going into the game, I was worried that the “zap ‘em and trap ‘em” gameplay would become too repetitive, but having the four different weapon types alleviated most of my concerns. Variety is infused by a number of humorously themed ghosts - each having vulnerabilities to different types of attacks. This also allows for a first-person mode to come into play as snapping scans of enemies adds them to a database and shows what attacks they are weak against. In addition, there are also collectibles hidden throughout the game which are tracked down using the scanner. Throw in a steady stream of memorable boss fights including a certain 100 foot tall sailor, and Ghostbusters stays "puft" full of action for the seven to eight hours it will take you to exorcise New York.
There are a few issues with the game that really hold it back from being excellent, however. Load times after deaths (even after a 4GB mandatory install) are simply too long as you’ll get to listen to at least thirty seconds of Ray Parker, Jr.’s opus each time you restart from a checkpoint. This coupled with often unskippable dialogue sections can lead to near controller chucking instances as the once witty banter is not so witty on your sixth or seventh retry of a section. One other area that needed work was the intelligence of your fellow Ghostbusters. While they do a good job at helping you battle poltergeists for the most part, I hit certain spots where I was constantly needing to revive them. It's a fine line between feeling like you are adventuring alongside these characters or whether you are adventuring in babysitting the Ghostbusters.
Overall, though, Ghostbusters succeeds in providing a fun new adventure with these classic characters. The game is exactly what it needs to be - full of fan service, comical one-liners, and ghost-wrangling that brings a 1980's franchise into a modern game. Welcome back, boys.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $45.00
Current MSRP: $59.99
”Ghostbusters: The Video Game” was provided for review by Atari. The game was played to completion over the course of seven and a half hours on the default difficulty setting. Not mentioned in this review are the multiplayer modes. The game does feature several co-op and competitive online modes (there is no co-op story campaign though). I played about an hour of multiplayer and it is a fun experience with persistent leveling of your character.