Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Review for Xbox 360

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Review for Xbox 360

Whatcha Gonna Play? Not This One!

It was only a matter of time before someone tried to replicate the success of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. From the standpoint of a publisher, the formula is simply too seductive to resist: Take a popular franchise, turn it into a top-down adventure game with two-stick shooting, toss in some decent graphics and level design, release it into the downloadable market, and watch the money come pouring in. Even if the game fails, it was a lot cheaper to make than a full-blown disc release.

Unfortunately, the makers of Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime seem to be completely in the dark about what made Guardian of Light such a fantastic game: the carefully designed puzzles. Instead of a series of clever mind-teasers interspersed with mindless shooting, Sanctum of Slime is mindless shooting interspersed with — well, more mindless shooting.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Screenshot

Here’s the game in one paragraph. You walk into a room. The door locks (spooky!). Some ghosts come out. Depending on what color the ghosts are, you select one of your three Proton Pack weapons and shoot them. The door to the next room unlocks. The camera zooms in on the open door so you know which way to go. The camera zooms back out. You walk into the next room. The door locks (spooky!). Some ghosts come out . . .

You get the idea.

To be fair, there are a few small variations in the gameplay. Sometimes you’ll find yourself shooting from the top of a moving vehicle instead of the ground. A few of the boss fights are actually quite challenging and fun. The developers did do some interesting things with the color-coding of the enemies, though not nearly as much as they should have.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Screenshot

But for the most part, when you’re working through the levels here, a process that takes only a few hours, you’re just clearing one room after another. Often they’re the same rooms from previous levels, or environments stolen from 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Game (to which this is a sequel, plot- if not gameplay-wise). One could call this “poor level design,” but it seems a little generous to call it “level design” at all.

Difficulty is another issue. You play as one of a group of four rookie Ghostbusters, and your life bar depletes rather quickly. However, your teammates can revive you to full health when you die, so the only time you hit a “game over” is when the entire team dies at once. This is a decent system for multiplayer (more about that in a second), but in the single-player mode, it forces you to rely on the AI characters to revive you without dying themselves. It’s frustrating to watch computer-controlled characters get killed when they should be saving you, or walk into harm’s way to save you when it’s obvious they’ll get mauled before they succeed.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Screenshot

The death system doesn’t really matter in the easy stretches of the game, but it gives the harder fights a sense of complete randomness. You’re almost guaranteed to die in some battles, but rather than having a fixed number of lives, you have to hope the AI will come over to wake you up safely. Some late-game fights in particular are infuriatingly difficult.

The AI is problematic in other ways as well; for example, it sometimes uses a wrong-colored weapon on a ghost, or moves in bizarre ways. Fortunately, you can avoid this by playing with other people. The co-op multiplayer isn’t bad — mindless shooting is always more fun with a few friends, and it eliminates the aforementioned problems with the AI — and it’s available both locally and online. However, the game doesn’t have drop-in/drop-out functionality, which severely limits flexibility. Competitive multiplayer is also missing, and even a little team spirit can’t rescue the campaign from its mundane action.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Screenshot

The storytelling — which was a major upside to Ghostbusters: The Game — leaves something to be desired as well. Between levels, you read comic-book panels that explain the plot’s basics: The Ghostbusters are overworked, and therefore they have to hire some rookies. Those rookies (that would be you and your friends) battle a supernatural menace in the form of an ancient demon who comes back to life, bringing with him to New York City hundreds of ghosts. During the levels, snippets of conversation that someone inexplicably found witty (sample: “Man, I really hate all this slime.”) pop up.

Also, unlike its predecessor, Sanctum doesn’t feature voice work from the cast of the original movies, or very much voice work at all, for that matter. We understand that the developers had a smaller budget for this game, but given the great stories Ghostbusters is known for, not to mention that great sense of nostalgia the franchise inspires in every child of the ’80s, all of this amounts to a big disappointment.

Graphically, Sanctum of Slime is acceptable but unimpressive. All the items on the screen, from the Ghostbusters to the enemies to the environment, are well-drawn and colorful, but there isn’t a whole lot of personality, detail, or realism to the art style. It’s all very functional: every image serves to depict whatever item it’s supposed to, nothing more, nothing less.

The sound doesn’t fare much better. The lack of voice acting hurts, and the music, which goes for a spooky-cute Tim Burton kind of feel, is repetitive and not memorable. The big bonus, however, is that the original theme song — the one that goes, “Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!” — is included.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light proved that you could take a blockbuster franchise, simplify it with the magic of top-down gameplay, and make it into a fun downloadable title. We hope that at some point, other series will get the careful and loving treatment that Tomb Raider did. Ghostbuster: Sanctum of Slime, however, is not an example of this process, but rather a cheap imitation of it.

They’re fine, but not too impressive. 3.5 Control
No complaints here; it plays like any other two-stick shooter. 2.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The original theme song is a nice touch, but the music is repetitive and it lacks voice acting. 2.3 Play Value
It’s short and not much fun. 2.8 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Choose from four new playable characters.
  • Hop in the all-new ECTO-4WD and blast your foes with a medley of destructive weapons.
  • Battle against the hordes of evil entities alone or with a team of friends through local or online multiplayer co-op.

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