I’m a big fan of the movie Ghostbusters. I loved it as a kid, even if it kind of scared Young Adam Dorsey with its spooky dead librarians and unbelievably sexy Sigourney Weavers. I even have fond memories of playing through Ghostbusters 2, a random NES cartridge Christmas gift from my folks, which no one should pretend to have fond memories of. It’s even the first movie I saw with my girlfriend, a glorious 70mm print of the original Ghostbusters that we caught at the Cinerama, when I was too shy to sit next to her, and awkwardly crammed a few friends between us. In other words, it continues to influence my life (and I continue to be intimidated by sexy women), so when I heard that the original cast was coming back for a Ghostbusters videogame, with Aykroyd and Ramis handling the writing, I thought that this could conceivably be better than getting a Ghostbusters 3. Now, after playing it, I can tell you: It’s not.
Ghostbusters: The Videogame is fun, but it is not Ghostbusters 3. I smiled, I chuckled, I grimaced, but I didn’t laugh for real once. The acting is awful. Bill Murray is the worst. He is phoning it in. This is not Peter Venkman. He might be playing Garfield, I’m not sure. I felt like it was me and some ghosts and a few Ghostbusters’ voice actors had been awkwardly crammed between us. The story is not a story, but more of a “best of” of the first two movies, which makes for fun gameplay (“I’m fighting Stay-Puft!” “Look, it’s Slimer!” “Oh snap, I don’t remember that guy’s name, but I think he was in the second one. Or maybe Gremlins.”). But nostalgia can only take someone so far, and Sigourney Weaver can only be google image searched so many times, so when Ghostbusters: The Videogame crossed-the-streams to its predictable conclusion, I was glad to be done.
The game feels gamey. The character models are freakish versions of their actor counterparts that take any humanity from the roles and throw it out. Everything feels like it’s from a five-year-old game. It’s unpolished. I got soft-locked twice, because my fellow ghostbusters lost their way, ran into a wall, and thought they were in an elevator when they were really in the kitchen.
The weapons are fun. There’s the basic proton stream, a stasis stream that has a shotgun effect, the physics-heavy slime tether that you’ve read about before, and a homing shot that is good for late-stage boss encounters. In fact, because the story was so convoluted that I didn’t know why I was doing most of what I was doing, obtaining and upgrading the various weapons was the only way I felt I was progressing through the game.
There’s a PKE Scanner, which borrows gameplay elements from the Metroid Prime series. Generally, the game feels more like an exploration game than an action game or a survival horror game, as the majority of my time was spent following behind my fellow ‘busters with the scanner, and then pulling out my proton gun when ghosts popped out. There are lots of “cursed artifacts” to scan and collect, you know, if that’s your bag. I became discouraged early on when it became clear I was missing a lot of them, and there was no achievement for getting half of them, and no gameplay incentive besides money (which I always had too much of anyway).
There is multiplayer, and I played it enough to try out all of the modes, and it seemed fun, if a little unnecessary.
I feel like I’m being harsh. I played through the whole game on xbox 360. I enjoyed it. I hear it’s more fun on Wii for several reasons, but I can’t vouch for that. I played it on casual and only got frustrated once or twice. It was fun to see the ‘busters at it again, and I hope that this game selling well means we get a real movie soon.
This is a case where a follow-up could bear infinitely better ghosts… er, fruit. Now that we’ve gotten the nostalgia out of the way, I would like to see a sequel covering new ground, maybe sending your Rookie character to LA or Chicago (as teased in the ending credits), with no existing ghostbusters and a new team. A new story. New enemies. New weapon upgrades. Maybe Annie Potts can still be your secretary, though, cause she’s snarky and hilarious. Also, perhaps a Sigourney Weaver character that I could play keymaster to. Wait, what?
In conclusion: Rent it, or buy it for less than $20. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, you will get a kick out of donning this proton pack. Play it on casual. If you’re not a Ghostbusters fan, hey, there’s some achievement points in there if you get the 360 version. You know, like every other 360 game. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown, and send this mailer back to Gamefly.