Posted on June 29, 2009 by Flames
Developer: Terminal Reality, Threewave Software
What do you get when you take one of the most popular comedy franchises ever, bring back the original writers and actors who made it so great, and have the original writers come up with a new script tying it all together?
You get Ghostbusters: the Video Game, of course.
Ghostbusters: TVG had been plagued from developmental issues from the start. Passing from publisher to publisher, the game faced cancellation several times despite promising trailers. Eventually managing to be released by Atari, this game features voice acting from the original cast. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles as the classic supernatural investigators and eliminators.
The game expands on the Ghostbusters mythos. Set two years after Ghostbusters 2, the Ghostbusters have managed to stay in business and now work directly for the city. You are the Recruit, a nameless new employee who never says a word throughout the whole game. Together you work as a squad, investigating strange levels and trapping ghosts for money. Familiar faces return to menace New York, including Slimer, Gozer, and Walter Peck. The game’s plot continues with the events of the first two films. Ivo Shandor, a character mentioned off handedly in the first film, has set a chain of events in motion and the secrets behind Gozer, the Grey Lady, and other seemingly minor events are revealed as the Recruit has to work with the team to stop them.
The game itself is enjoyable. The controls are tricky to master at first, mainly with trapping ghosts. Even this is fun, as new ghosts represent new challenges on how to defeat them. The game introduces new equipment as well as your proton pack is upgraded throughout the game, and new weapons such as the Slime Thrower, the Dark Matter Generator, and Meson Collider help solve puzzles and defeat specific ghosts.
It’s not just about trapping ghosts as well. While combat is still a major factor in the game, you have to solve puzzles in order to advance and use your PKE Meter to track down hidden ghosts, Cursed Artifacts, and help guide your way through puzzles. The game is very much like Metroid Prime, as you can solve several puzzles by utilizing the different functions on your weapons or by moving parts of the environment around.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the game are the cut scenes and the dialogue. Aykroyd and Ramis made the game like a true sequel to the films, with Venkman’s dry wit and the deadpan delivery from Egon helping to make the game more fun. The cut scenes are shown in the same way as the film, and the soundtrack combines music from the original movies and combines them with new mixes.
Now, there are flaws which have to be addressed. While this game is good, it has several important flaws which detract from the overall experience.
For starters, the length of the game was disappointing. I beat the game on basic difficulty within fifteen hours. I had found ¾ of the hidden items and had earned many of the achievements in the process. For $60, I had hoped the story mode would be much longer than that and last me for a while. While the multiplayer is fun, this can be a turn off for some players who enjoyed the single player campaign so much.
The game also suffers from some critical bug issues. I had to reload the game several times on the second level as Ray would inexplicably stop and rotate his torso around repeatedly. One time I lost Egon to a bizarre glitch where he was knocked out and part of him had fused with a nearby statue, and the game would not let me revive him. Perhaps a patch will be released that can correct these issues, but it can prove frustrating while you play. If you ever seem to get stuck and you’ve tried every task, just reload it.
Will the game scare you? Sure, the animated candelabras and Stay Puft Marshmallow Man might not scare you, but there is plenty of room for horror in the game. Shandor’s sinister plot to destroy the world combined with several dark twists in the plot bring fear and dread to the table. Several enemies are particularly terrifying, especially in numbers. Nothing gets your heart pumping like having a ghost leap out of a painting to your left while zombies leap about clawing at your face.
There is an issue on whether or not the game is canon with the movies, and until the new Ghostbusters movie is released this is still up in the air but thanks to Ramis and Aykroyd, this is felt more than a game set in the Ghostbusters franchise. This felt like Ghostbusters: the Video Game in every sense. From the spontaneous one-liners to the ability to interact with your environment I was hooked throughout the game, although very disappointed with how quickly I beat it. Even a casual gamer who is unfamiliar with the series might get excited about pulling on a proton pack and taking it to them.
Review by John D. Kennedy