Ghostbusters: The Video Game Reivew

By Mike on 2:00 pm

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"Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes!" This grammatical nightmare was the ending screen for the original NES Ghostbusters game, produced by Activision way back in the late 80s. The game has an infamous reputation for being just awful. In fact, so have most other Ghostbusters games. I smiled when I saw the ending screen included in Atari's new game. It can be seen on one of the computer monitors at the Ghostbusters' firehouse. Unlike so many of the ones that came before it, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is actually quite good. The game proclaims that this is the third movie. Indeed the story plays out in exactly that fashion.

You play as a newly hired rookie Ghostbuster rather than one of the actual characters from the movie. Ray, Peter, Egon, and Winston are all there, voiced by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Herold Ramis, and Earnie Hudson respectively. It's nice to see Winston finally included in the game as he seemed to be suspiciously left out of past ones. Annie Potts returns as the Ghostbusters secretary Janine and William Atherton returns as EPA agent Walter Peck. Saturday Night Live alumni Brian Doyle-Murray is new to the cast as Mayor Mulligan. Alyssa Milano, known for roles in Charmed and My Name is Earl, voices Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn. It's vary nice to see nearly the entire original cast return to voice their characters. This really ties it in beautifully with the concept of the "third movie".

The game itself begins where the first movie began, at the New York Public library. The library is soon to host a new exhibit on Gozer, the demon god. Late at night, a woman is seen running past two security guards followed by a huge blast of energy that engulfs the city. Slimer escapes soon after, heading back to the old Sedgwick hotel. The Ghostbusters soon encounter other powerful ghosts from their past including the librarian and Stay Puft. Missions vary from being part of a team of one or more of the other Ghostbusters, or solo. The goal of the game is simple enough, catch ghosts and destroy deities. The Rookie has been hired on as the experimental equipment technician, who's job is to test Egon's new inventions. At the beginning of the game, you're given the standard proton pack, which is used to weaken then wrangle ghosts into your trap. Hitting R2 activates the proton stream to attack the ghosts. Once the green reticule around the ghost turns red, the pack automatically lassos them, where you have to fight the ghost into the trap, deployed by hitting Square. Once trapped, you can further weaken the ghost by "slamming" them with L2, when your slam meter reaches full, which is charged by pulling the ghost in the opposite direction they're trying to go. Once weak enough, pull them over the trap and wrestle them in. Pick it back up when you're done with X. Other weapons become available later in the game. The green slime pack from Ghostbusters 2 allows you to neutralize caustic black slime as well hurt enemies. It also packs a slime tether which can be used to tether objects or manipulate them; it's used by L2, which is the secondary weapon function button. The dark matter generator allows you to temporarily freeze ghosts, and the meson collider is especially effective against deity ghosts. Boson darts fire a high powered charge from the proton pack, working as its secondary weapon. Certain weapons are more effective against some enemies than others so it's best to play around. Catching ghosts or destroying deities brings in money, which can be used to purchase upgrades for weapons and other inventory. Destroying property takes away money.
Another aspect of the game is using the PKE meter, which detects hidden ghosts (red screen), environmental phenomenon (green), or hidden possessed artifacts (blue). It switches to a first person view when using it. Scanning various things using R2 collects information for the Tobin's Spirit Guide, including the ghost's methods of attacks, how difficult they are to capture, and what their weaknesses are. The Spirit Guide as well as weapons, tutorials, and gameplay information are stored in the PKE meter, accessed by hitting start. Hit triangle to enter scanning mode.

The game itself can be quite difficult at times, especially if played on experienced or professional mode. On the proton pack, a green bar on the right side shows your current health. If you drain it, another Ghostbuster will come and revive you if they're near by. If not, you fail the mission. You can also revive your own colleagues if they fall. It's not so much the more powerful ghosts that are the big threats, but the ones that attack in large groups, such as the possessed wall sconces in the Sedgwick level. You'll also need to periodically vent your proton pack when using weapons to prevent it for overheating. This can slow down gameplay somewhat. The Rookie's dodge and movement abilities are somewhat limited. You can run and dodge using the circle button but this feels delayed and is often pretty much useless beyond normal movement.
The levels themselves are well done with plenty of variety. The entire game has eight in total, and it can be beaten in about six hours depending on the difficulty setting. The artistic style of the game blends a mix of cartoony atmosphere with realistic character models. The game has trophy support and multiplayer to keep you busy for longer, though I didn't try the latter. Overall, Ghostbusters is a fun game to play despite it's minor flaws. Fans of the series will definitely get a kick out of it.

Sadly, despite it being a solid game, Ghostbusters does have some technical issues on the PS3. Despite Sony owning the Ghostbusters IP, the Playstation version is clearly inferior to the Xbox 360's. For starters, the game does not run in HD. On the 360, it does run at 720p but on the PS3, the resolution is limited to 960x540, which isn't much better than Euopean PAL's SD video resolution. Rather the PS3 will upscale the game to HD. My TV indicated it was running at 1080i but it certainly did not look like it. Textures are washed and aliasing problems are clearly evident. Once again, programming difficulties on the Cell were blamed. After three years of the PS3 being on the market, and vastly superior games being developed for it, this excuse just doesn't fly any more. If your programmers can't develop on the Cell, sack then and hire some that can. Given that Atari published the game, this doesn't surprise me though considering the technical garbage that studio has produced over the years. In contrast, Ghostbusters is an achievement compared to most of their rubbish. Aside from the low resolution and bad textures, there really aren't any more other technical issues. There's no tearing or frame drops. However, I did notice that during pre-rendered cut scenes, lip syncing seemed a bit off.
I already mentioned how impressed I was with the audio. The voice talent is spectacular and the game includes all the classic themes and sound effects from the movie. From a technical standpoint, audio is where this game really shines.

Compared to other Ghostbusters games, this one is definitely the best. Compared to other games in general, this one still has issues. The gameplay is just plain fun and the controls are decent enough. The resolution issues on the PS3 though are inexcusable, which is what prevented it from getting a higher score than it did. This is easily worth an 8 out of 10 on the 360 but it gets docked half a point on the PS3 because of the graphics problems. This is definitely worth a rent, especially if you're a fan of the series. It's the first game for the IP that really lets you feel what it's like to be a Ghostbuster.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

What works
-Outstanding use of original cast for voiceover
-Fun gameplay with all your favourite weapons from the movies
-Good level design
-Excellent music and sound effects
-Intriguing story really does feel like the "third movie"

What Doesn't Work
-PS3 version doesn't run in HD
-Textures look washed and 3D models have aliasing (jaggies) issues
-A little on the sort side
-Dodge and run controls a little unresponsive and not vary useful

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