Just the thought of a Ghostbusters game penned by two of the original stars with the voice acting of most of the entire cast would be enough to get one giddy. After seeing some screen shots and footage my excitement level was enough to spike a PKE meter. This had the potential to be a substantial hit and buck the trend of movie licensed games. With that in mind I tried to set the bar low with expectations, but secretly I was as giddy as Slimer in a buffet line. Unfortunately by the end of the game I felt like I got slimed, basically a not so good feeling.
Set in 1991, the Ghostbusters are now considered contracted employees for NYC. The city pays the bills any time a ghost is trapped or damage is done. It’s a sweet gig for the Ghostbusters and business is booming. Booming enough to hire a new rookie to join the team, and that rookie is you the player. The cast of the original movies return to provide voices with Bill Murray voicing Dr. Peter Venkman, Dan Akroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz, Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler, and Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore. We even get Annie Pots reprising her role as receptionist Janine Melnitz and William Atherton voicing Walter Peck. Joining the cast is Alyssa Milan as Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn, a new love interest for Dr. Venkman and the main protagonist.
The city is under siege from the latest paranormal plague and it’s up to the Ghostbusters to put an end to it. Armed with your particle accelerator, you and the boys set out to clean up the Big Apple. You’ll visit the NY Public Library and hunt down the librarian ghost, who has a more intricate back story then anything that was mentioned in the movies. You’ll revisit the Sedgwick Hotel and even run into your old buddy the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
The game is filled with little easter eggs and nods to fans of the original movies. From being able to watch the ending of the original Ghostbusters video game on Egons computer to talking to the portrait of Vigo from the Ghostbusters II movie, you’ll find yourself closely analyzing things to find all the little treats.
As a Ghostbuster you’ve got all of their equipment at your disposal. From the proton packs to the PKE meters, you’ll find yourself using them all in your hunt of the ghosts. You’ll even have access to Tobin’s Spirit Guide in order to identify ghosts and find their weaknesses. Terminal Velocity threw everything they could into the game, making it as realistic as possible to be a Ghostbuster.
From a visual standpoint, Terminal Reality’s Infernal Engine does some great things with its lighting effects. Proton streams light up the environment with colors, casting some wild neon lighting effects that explode on screen. Even Slimer emits a green glow that casts light on everything in its path. The in game graphics look good and the CG cut scenes look great, with some beautifully rendered scenes that look like they could come straight out of a Ghostbusters movie. They did a good job with the games presentation.
Unfortunately it’s the gameplay and story that suffers the most. While it’s fun wrangling in ghosts using your proton pack, the games controls feel clumsy and slow, especially when you’re taken down. Once downed you’ll either be incapacitated, left helpless on your back waiting for one of the other Ghostbusters to come, which can take a long time sometimes, or your character will be temporarily downed and take a staggeringly long time to get back to his feet. Unfortunately the AI doesn’t work so well, so there will be many instances where you’re waiting to be rescued only to have the level end in failure because none of the other Ghostbuster came over to rescue you and instead were downed themselves.
Another problem is the confusing level design, where it can be very easy to get lost with no on-screen map or indicator of your next objective. Even more frustrating are the many instances where you’ll have to wait for the other Ghostbusters to make a move or decision before you can proceed. Unfortunately there will be times where they’ll just stand there, stuck and your progress will grind to a halt and you’ll have to restart the level.
Another frustrating issue I had was with the autosave system. Yes it works, but you have no idea when it’s working. There’s no indicator to let you know it’s saved your progress so you’re basically stuck waiting to finish a level before you can be sure the game was saved.
Lastly there’s the story, it’s short. Way too short that is. You can easily finish the game within 6-8 hours and that includes having to restart levels at times due to glitches within the game. It’s unfortunate that the story wasn’t fleshed out more. It could have easily been extended another couple hours with some more thought.
Ghostbusters also features an online multiplayer component, but rather puzzlingly they’ve left off any sort of co-op campaign. The multiplayer features a number of modes, from Thief mode, where you’re defending relics from ghosts that are trying to steal them and Destruction; a timed game where you destroy relics and the ghosts that appear from them to fending off waves of ghosts in Slime Dunk. You can revive other players, or be revived, allowing you to continue even if you’re knocked down.
The multiplayer also features a Most Wanted Ghosts list of ghosts that can only found within its component and not in the single player. By meeting specific criteria during a multiplayer game, these unique ghosts will appear. There is an online ranking system, but there’s no real way to see what level or rank you are other than the online career dollar amount that you gain from winning matches.
Overall, Ghostbusters tried to pack in a lot but it suffered from trying to focus on too many things at once. Perhaps if they focused on the single player with a 4 player co-op campaign they would have fared better. And yes, it was nice to hear the original voices, but it wasn’t enough. Poor gameplay, along with a rather short and lame story makes for a disappointing game. It’s not a terrible game, far from it, it’s just that it’s not worth a purchase. It’s a rental at best.