First, let me start this review off by saying that bustin’ makes me feel good. What I’m saying is, I’m a huge ghost-head. Some may argue that a movie/franchise game shouldn’t be reviewed by a fan of the license, but then, would someone who knows nothing about Ghostbusters really be playing this game?
(As a side note, this is strictly a review of the PS3 [and, by extension, 360] version. The low-def editions were made by different developers.)
The Ghostbusters series is many things. Science fiction, action, but above all, it’s very silly and a great source of funny quips and sarcasm—just like GameCola! Ghostbusters is not without its faults, though: mainly, the stupid, politically correct, and awful Extreme Ghostbusters TV series, and all of the franchise’s videogames up until now. (Somehow, there were even a lot of Extreme Ghostbusters videogames. Ugh, a game based on a TV show spin-off of another TV show that was based on a movie series. Really?) Well, luckily, Ghostbusters finally redeems itself! Ghostbusters: The Video Game is an all-around solid action game due to close adherence to the franchise and involvement by the majority of the brains behind the operation, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and many others. So the Ghostbusters are “ready to believe you,” but are you ready to believe me?
The game stars, as you guessed, the Ghostbusters, in the year 1991 (the first two movies took place in 1984 and 1989, respectively). Unlike in the end of the first movie, ghosts and ghostbusting have become a standard part of daily New Yorker lives. The Ghostbusters are on the docket like any other civil service (police, fire, etc.), which means they get money directly from the city, and they’re also insured, so you don’t have worry about clearing a few dining room tables to make room for your ghost traps. The plot fills in some details for the two movies, and reintroduces past foes and elements in a non-cheesy way. Sure, they brought back Stay Puft, because everyone associates the Ghostbusters with him, but at least they came up with a reasonable answer for why he was back.
The game has a pretty good single-player story and gameplay, and it’s fun bustin’ ghosts. Sinking ghosts in traps can be a little troubling sometimes, but at least some enemies can just be destroyed, and the Ghostbusters function as a whole team. You play through this story as “Rookie.” They don’t give you a name; they give you even less respect than the new hire Winston in the first movie. What’s annoying is that you’re supposed to be the rookie, but the other characters don’t do shit. I understand that this is for gameplay reasons, but in any squad-based shooting games these days, the main hero always does all the work. I guess it’s no fun if the CPU does all the work, but it takes away from the movie element to see Ray, Peter, Winston, and Egon fall on their ass every five seconds and ask you to revive them. So you may ask “If they don’t help you out much, why not just leave them there?”. Well, they do revive you when you die. Plus, if everyone’s dead, you have to reload. And believe me, you don’t want to reload a lot. Yes, you get to listen to Ray Parker, Jr. during the loading screen, but if I am simply reloading the level that I just died on, should it really take 45 seconds to reload? When I die in GTA4, I wake up two or three seconds later outside a hospital. What the crap?
Still, the story is fantastic, and if you love the audio and visuals of Ghostbusters (who doesn’t?), then you’ll love this game. They got everything just right. One small complaint about the audio is Bill Murray’s performance. He just doesn’t sound the same—he wasn’t quite back in the role like the other actors.
What’s really great is that there’s no on-screen HUD. No health bar, no money bar, nothing. All your stats and purchase options are on your PKE meter. No more driving to the “Ghost Shop” like in the past games; it plays like a real movie. The graphics and gameplay are really quite good. You’re not really shooting to kill—you’re shooting to trap, which is pretty innovative and sets the game apart from all the other third-person shooters out there.
This game has some pretty sweet online multiplayer, as well. Up to four people in one game at a time can play. You try to get as much money as you can, but you get money for assisting other players, so you’re not really competing. As you gain more money in ranked matches, you level up your rank, and you get new uniforms. You can’t switch uniforms, though, which is weird. In GTA, you unlock new uniform choices, but the game doesn’t force you into one.
As much as the earlier Ghostbusters games sucked, it would have been nice if you got to drive the car in this game, like you do in those. The other Ghostbusters actually hint to the Rookie that maybe he should drive, but they quickly dismiss that idea and laugh. Well why the hell would they do that…get my damn hopes up. When you beat the game, you get to watch video interviews with some of the cast members, and it’s really great to see everyone into it, especially Dan Aykroyd. Bill Murray isn’t in the videos, which just goes along with his seemingly disinterested voice acting. Venkman was always the down to Earth, laid-back guy, but Bill Murray really took that to the next level…or, he just didn’t take it anywhere.
With its minor flaws, this game is really quite awesome. As I said before, all the other Ghostbusters games suck ass. This game is basically the third movie, and you get to be a Ghostbuster, and also tear it up online. What more can you ask for?