The Ghostbusters movies are a timeless classic that many kids from the eighties grew up emulating. Ghostbusters themed parties, Ecto Cooler from Hi-C and even terrible NES video games. Now that nostalgia is relived in Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the Xbox 360 and other platforms
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality
Price: $20 used from Gamestop
For a while, there were only a handful of handheld Ghostbusters games and even those were really loosely based on the animated TV shows they were representing. Fast forward to 2009 where Ghostbusters: The Video Game is released for the all current platforms of the era. The thing that makes this Ghostbusters game so appealing is that it’s written by the original writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. In addition to the legacy writers, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and other original cast members leant their voices to the game as well. Given the star power in this game, fans of the Ghostbusters series and Aykroyd himself have labeled this “Ghostbusters 3.”
The story of Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Set 2 years after the second Ghostbusters film, you are a nameless cadet that takes on experimental proton packs as you assist the Ghostbusters in their adventures. The game starts out at the firehouse and Slimer has escaped to the basement. Once out of the basement you’ll go to classic areas already covered by the first two films such as the 5 star Sedgewick Hotel to fight other classic monsters such as Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. While the first part of the game might seem like a rehash of the original movies, the game does start to play into its very own plot while revisiting classic characters from the previous films.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Gameplay
The basement is where you learn the basic gameplay mechanics. There are three modes used to catch ghosts; First you blast them with the proton pack stream, wearing down the ghost so they stop attacking, then you lasso them and slam them around until they stop moving, then you throw down a trap and get hold the ghosts over it until they’re in the trap. Once the ghost has been trapped, you retrieve it. There is no UI overlayed on the game, so you’ll have to pay attention to the proton pack itself. The proton pack shows how close it is to overheating and how many hits you can take before you’re taken out.
As you progress through the game, there are enhancements that you can purchase to make Ghostbusting a lot easier. Better proton pack guns, more health, blast waves and fast traps. The fast traps are the most helpful because when you’re facing multiple ghosts trying to kill you, trapping them without having to have them hover over the trap for 30 seconds speeds up the gameplay a ton.
Like most games from this time, there are a lot of cut scenes that interrupt gameplay. You might not mind them in this game because it’s essentially a Ghostbusters movie, but for me it does get a bit annoying where you have a cut scene between ever 5 -10 minutes of gameplay. The scenes aren’t skippable so if you’re playing through a second time or you’re playing from a save point, it gets frustrating. Kind of like watching a movie with someone who isn’t paying attention so they make you rewind every so often to see what they missed.
Your character plays alongside the original 4 Ghostbusters who will revive you if they’re nearby. You’re also responsible for reviving them as well. This is great because the game is very unforgiving since you’re being attacked from all angles and your character doesn’t move very fast. You can play with friends in online co-op, but only for the Xbox 360 version since the PlayStation 3 Servers have been shut down. Online campaign works just as it does with computers; team up to complete the missions. Unlike Left 4 Dead, you revive someone instantaneously which helps a ton when fighting multiple enemies.
Controls are wonky and feel very stiff. This an issue when tracking ghosts who move way faster than your character. Sure you can sprint, but that’s only for a short amount of time and it doesn’t really help dodge charging enemies who can easily corner you and kill you. Even the smaller enemies take a while to destroy. Add the fact that the stream must be on the ghost at all times and you have to discharge the proton pack periodically to prevent it from overheating, multiple enemies can be a nightmare. The checkpoints are few and far between so if you manage to fail the mission, be prepared to play the majority of the stage over again.
The levels of the Ghostbusters are very dark as well. Navigating through the levels is difficult since you’re without a map. You have the spectrometer instead to help you navigate, but it operates in a hot/cold method and you can’t fire your weapon while it’s engaged. This means if you encounter an enemy, you need to switch off the spectrometer and then fire your proton pack. The extra button presses give ghosts who always manage to sneak up on you the first hit. What’s even more frustrating is that they can hit you and disappear before you even have a chance to hit them.
What I like about Ghostbusters: The Video Game
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a great representation of what a movie game should be. It follows a specific plot that involves the original actors and has you be part of the experience. You don’t play any of the Ghostbusters, but a new character that’s voiceless so you can project yourself on to it.
What I don’t like about Ghostbusters: The Video Game
This is a movie first and a game second. The gameplay is stiff and the levels are poorly designed. If they had a lock-on targeting system that you could easily follow the ghosts around, the game wouldn’t have been as hard to play. The game isn’t difficult; the gameplay makes it frustrating. I have had to essentially rage quit every hour or so because I got stuck in a certain part of the game. Maybe the game knows this because when I come back to it, it seems to be a bit easier to manage.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is often viewed by fans as the third and final Ghostbusters film. And because Harold Ramis is no longer with us, it really is. Some truly believe that there can be no more Ghostbusters films without the original cast, but with such a popular franchise just ripe for revival, it makes sense to make a new film with new cast members. Given the absolute feud between Murray and Ramis, it was apparent that there wasn’t going to be a live action Ghostbusters film with the original cast anytime soon.
There will be another Ghostbusters game coming out in July for PlayStation 4 and Xbox one to coincide with the new Ghostbusters film this summer starting Melissa McCarthy. Previews suggest it will take place after events occurring in the film and instead of a realistic feel, it will instead have a more cartoony look with the option to choose either a male or female character. Hopefully it will not have the same gameplay flaws as the 2009 Ghostbusters game.