Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review

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Ghostbusters: The Video Game Publisher: Atari
Developer: Terminal Reality

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

A few years after the Ghostbusters saved Manhattan and the world in the events of Ghostbusters II, a huge wave of psychokinetic energy strikes New York City. Coincidentally, this occurs moments after the Ghostbusters have picked up a new recruit who can do all the heavy lifting and ghost busting for the famous, wisecracking parapsychologists.

Kyle Ackerman

Ghostbusters is a middling fishing simulator. Thanks to a script penned by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, along with voice acting by much of the original cast, Ghostbusters has awesome dialog, clever plot elements and hearkens back to the glory of the 1984 film. The game, however, is crap. Ghostbusters is more fun to watch than to play.

Ghostbusters has an incredibly promising opening – I started as a trainee, working in the firehouse that housed Venkman, Ray and Egon's paranormal containment service, scattered with loot from the films (including a talking painting of Vigo the Carpathian). I got all the experimental and dangerous gear, and a brief training exercise, before being shuttled off to familiar locations from the film to battle another supernatural invasion. I was excited when the game started me off with a proton pack &ndash learning to contain a spirit and drag it, unwillingly, into a ghost trap. The proton streams arced gorgeously, as I dragged a ghost to the trap, like a prize fish hooked on my lure.

Soon after, I found myself running around a New York City hotel wielding a PKE Meter like a combination pair of night-vision goggles and supernatural spyglass. I was excited to help the famed Ghostbusters take down a supernatural Twinkie the size of Manhattan. Things quickly went downhill, though. Objects in the world were gorgeously rendered, but used so often that the hallways and city streets seemed unreal. Despite levels taking tightly constrained, linear paths, I often found myself unclear where I was supposed to go or who I was supposed to follow. I'd be standing around, trying to figure out what to do when a scripted event would finally clear the way, leaving me feel confused and foolish.

By the time I finally encountered the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (early in this short game) I'd seen the full gamut of play. I'd killed a bunch of minor creatures by blasting them with the proton pack's stream, and dragged multiple ghoulies into traps through an extended fishing process that involved keeping the stream on the ghost until it tired, and dragging it above the trap. It was invigorating, gorgeous and cathartic the first time through the training mission. After that, it was just repetitive. Every fishing sequence was the same, sometimes interspersed with me rescuing my fellow Ghostbusters, so that they could do the same for me if I were knocked down. Yes, the fishing was more entertaining than in most actual fishing games, but that's such a low bar it doesn't make Ghostbusters fun.

Ghostbusters continued to introduce variants on the basic proton stream, mimicking conventional weapons like a shotgun or grenade launcher, none of which were particularly interesting. Once I'd reached the alternate-reality version of the New York Public Library, I was pushing on in this absurdly short game just to reach the end. The simplistic puzzles simply delayed the game's inevitable end, and the boss creatures just forced me to reload until I kept my team alive long enough to be resurrected after the inevitable fatal attacks.

The only reason to play Ghostbusters is if you have a deep and abiding love of the Ghostbusters films, and are willing to suffer through the game to hear some clever lines acted by the original cast.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 2, 2009 9:00 PM.

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