It’s not fair. Even if this game would be worse than good it would still be a must-play. Nostalgia demands it. It’s Ghostbusters. Luckily it’s a must-buy too.
This game is all about fan service. The single player game casts you as a nameless rookie that trails along with the four Ghostbusters from the movie. And that isn’t as bad as it originally sounded, since this means you can listen to the guys talking. And this is an important thing, if you like to listen to them you’re in for an amazing ride. If you think all the talking during the action is distracting, than you’re going to have a problem. They talk a lot. Luckily the voices are done by the original actors, meaning Dan Aykroyd (dr. Raymond Stanz), Bill Murray (dr. Peter Venkman), Harold Ramis (dr. Egon Spengler) and Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddmore). This in itself is pretty amazing.
The dialogues are good and funny too, the only thing is that they sometimes are a little too long to keep things moving along briskly. Something you can never accuse the movies of. The game’s strongest asset is also its biggest weakness, since it’s always going to be compared to the movies. And the game is not thát funny, then again few things are. Especially Murray’s character doesn’t quite make the transition. Much of the comedy of his character comes from Murray’s expression. But during the busting you don’t see him, in the cut scenes you do but still only in 3d, turning the deadpan delivery into just dead.
Spengler and Stanz fare better. Spengler’s awkward throwaway lines always brought a smile to my face. But it’s Stanz, the heart of Ghostbusters, who steps up to take the spotlight. The missions with him are somehow more memorable and when he enthusiastically complimented me after a particular bout of ghost wrangling I just glowed. If I had a tail, I’d waggle. Winston, like in the movies, plays a smaller role. But luckily you join him on a mission as well and he has some good lines too.
These missions should be familiar territory to the fans as well as they stick really close to the movies. You will go to the Sedgewick hotel where they first encountered Slimer, the Library where saw their first ghost and of course the Stay Puft Marshmellow man makes an appearance. The first half of the game sometimes feels like a tourist attraction at a movie park showing all the highlights of the first movie.
In the second half the story treads new ground and this invigorates it greatly. For one thing it allows taking the player to surroundings that would otherwise be too expensive for the movies. In these levels the level designers can really let themselves go. And the result is very imaginative, especially the ghost world. Here the game feels like an addition to the Ghostbusters canon instead of a re-telling.
Gameplay wise it looks a lot like Gears of War, the camera perspective is similar and so are the controls. There’s weight behind your movement, but unfortunately this means you’re also sluggish, even more so than in Gears of War. Having a nuclear proton accelerator on your back understandably slows you down, but it did mean that I had to take it like a man whenever a ghost wanted to throw something at me.
But this is a minor gripe, because the fight itself is a lot of fun. For the more powerful ghosts it works in stages where you first drain its energy, than slam it around to daze it and then pull it into a trap. Other ghosts are easier and only need their energy levels drained. Every type has a weakness and if you photograph them with your special para-goggles you learn how to attack them best. These goggles together with the PKE-meter also help you find special haunted objects throughout the levels. These additions make the linear gameplay varied enough.
Besides the single player missions there are also several multiplayer levels that will make sure you get some extra mileage out of the game that clocked in a little over eight hours for me. (The cheaper pc-version doesn’t include this)
The only real problem with the game is the long time it takes to load. Especially when you die during the hard parts, and the game can be pretty unforgiving, you end up looking at the load screen more than the actual fight. And then the theme-song, though awesome, gets more than a little grating.
In the end this is a very polished game that looks beautiful, has the occasional laugh out loud moment and offers a wide range of ghosts to fight in spectacular battles. The occasional frustration, sometimes sluggish response and linear levels won’t make this the ‘Game of the Year’. But it nails the Ghostbusters feel big time.
In one level you travel with Ray through a skyscraper that’s being demolished by the Marshmellow man. Ray steps in front of a torn down wall and shouts out excitedly: “Wow, will you take a look at that view!” It’s exactly the right combination of mundane reality and supernatural events that made the movies so much fun.
Oh yeah, did I mention the game also has Annie Potts as Janine? And the dancing toaster from the second movie? And Walter Peck? And…
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality