We Came, We Saw,
We Kicked Its Ass!
So, after quite some time in development, the Ghostbusters are now making house calls across just about every current gaming platform. With our proton packs strapped on and a lucky rabbit’s foot chained to our belt buckle, we dive into Red Fly’s interpretation of the adventure.
Though we only saw two Ghostbusters movies hit the big screen, you can almost consider this latest game the bookend of a trilogy. Like the first two outings, this Ghostbusters story requires very little to get going. Some old, supernatural acquaintances of the team are starting to act up again, and the Ghostbusters trace each haunting back to their source.
After playing through the adventure, you may still find the story difficult to grasp, but the dialogue is as entertaining as the two previously released Ghostbusters movies. Each of the main actors (including Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray) are back to reprise their respective roles, and the delivery of each line feels distinctly Ghostbusters. There are tons of cutscenes woven into the gameplay; they don’t break the momentum, but they do serve to inject a healthy dose of comic relief into the linear construct of the game.
You play as an unnamed new recruit (either male or female), and you’ll spend most of your time tagging along with the vets, busting ghosts, and solving various puzzles in order to propel the story forward. Though the basics of gameplay never change too drastically from beginning to end, the experience rarely drags. The button mapping is used to frugal perfection, making use of almost every nook and cranny on the controller(s).
The gameplay is broken up into missions, with each comprised of a handful of chapters. The infamous firehouse from the movies acts as the game’s hub, allowing you to replay completed missions and access other goodies. Unfortunately, the gang’s classic hearse, the Ecto-1, only serves as a portal to your next mission, and the action is all on foot.
From the outset of the game, you’ll be taken through the basics by the various team members. Additionally, Egon will present you with a new firearm for your proton pack at the start of almost every new mission. Your arsenal will range from basic proton blasts and positively charged slime, to Boson blasts and slime grenades. The real star of the show here, however, is how the game puts all the different bits of gadgetry to use. Some enemies require a mere blast from the proton pack, while other entities have black-slime armor that will first need to be neutralized with positively charged slime before you can then blast and wrangle the enemy.
Some baddies can be sent back to the afterlife with just a few blasts from your proton pack, though others will need to be wrangled and trapped. The process of wrangling requires you to first whittle away at a green health bar, which will then allow you to lock the enemy in your beam’s grasp. At this point, you’ll be cued to waggle the Wii Remote in certain directions in order to bang the ghosts into the environment, thus diminishing a red health bar. Once their health is completely depleted, you can toss down a trap with the Z button and pull them in.
In addition to being able to blast and slime spirits back to the netherworld, you can also slime certain objects and then move them around. This element plays into solving puzzles throughout the game, and it’s a very satisfying mechanic. It’s also a ton of fun causing random destruction throughout levels, and almost everything is breakable.
As a matter of fact, the game keeps a tally of the damage done within each chapter, and you’ll earn a ranking based on how little you cost the city in doing your duty. Of course, there are info cards hidden within destructibles, so completionists may have a tough time controlling the urge to engage in total demolition.
Red Fly seems to have taken a few cues from the Metroid Prime series, and you’ll use the PKE meter to scan objects and entities, which will help you decide how best to proceed. You’ll also make use of the PKE goggles in order to see ghosts hidden within the environment, or to follow their trail should they escape. The game also takes a nod from Left 4 Dead, and if you or one of the other Ghostbusters gets incapacitated, you can simply go up to them and press the A button to get them back up on their feet
As fun and engaging as the gameplay and story are, Ghostbusters the Video Game is not without its blemishes. For starters, certain portions of various chapters have some serious dead spots, and we’re not talking about ghosts here. You’ll sometimes find yourself running through an empty hallway only to come to a load screen, followed by another empty hallway. There are also quite a few cheap moments in the latter portions of the game, where enemies will appear behind you literally from out of nowhere and lob off almost half your health with one hit. Since the camera movement is slightly lumbering, these sneaky ghosts can become quite frustrating.
By far the worst thing we came across while playing the game, however, was a glitch that, for a good hour or so, had us concerned we would be unable to complete the adventure. Somewhere past the midway point in the story, there’s a mission that continued to place us in a room where the collision detection seemed to have issues with clipping, and on five separate runs we ended up outside the building, unable to move or progress in any way. The only solution each time was to restart the mission, and though the glitch did crop up again on our final attempt, we were finally able to carefully move our character into the correct position before she could get trapped outside again.
On the production front, Ghostbusters has the look of a decent PS2/Wii game, but the lighting and facial animations are truly impressive. Little nuances in the characters’ faces when they speak convey a lot about the story, and the way in which each of the Ghostbusters behaves feels authentic. There were occasional bouts of slowdown, but they were almost always exclusive to cutscenes; the gameplay was never affected in any meaningful way. The ambient music played wonderfully alongside the gameplay, with themes subtly raising the level of anticipation when some element of excitement was about to take stage.
On the whole, Ghostbusters is an impressive production most fans should eat up. We had a fun time with the game, though we were also left with serious reservations due to glitching that might cause less-experienced gamers to hang up their proton packs well before the journey ends. For those who can get past the game’s shortcomings, however, there’s plenty of content here to justify the full price. You can play cooperatively with a friend pretty much the entire way through, and it does, indeed, add a lot to the experience. There are some fun achievements that play into the actual gameplay, and overall, it’s a really well-written and thoughtful production.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.6 Graphics
Environments and character models are low poly, but the lighting and physics are quite impressive. Detailed facial animation and loads of destructible elements add a lot to the experience. 3.7 Control
Controls are a bit loose and lumbering, but the gameplay doesn’t call for tons of precision. Ultimately, it’s a fun set-up, in spite of a few missteps. Some cheap elements – directly related to the controls – crop up later in the game. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voice work and sound effects. The music does a really good job of building up various gameplay changes. 3.6 Play Value
There’s plenty of content on offer here, regardless of the game’s linear approach. The production is very well conceived, but we have strong reservations regarding glitches that pop up from time to time. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.