Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime: review

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  • Format: XBLA(version reviewed), PC, PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now (XBLA/PC), March 30th (PSN)
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Behaviour
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site: http://www.atari.com/gbsanctumofslime/#/trailer

  • The last Ghostbusters film was released in 1989, and the next one – details of which are still mostly rumour – won’t hit cinemas until 2012 at the earliest. It’s safe to say therefore that Sanctum of Slime wasn’t rushed out to coincide with one of the movies. It’s probably a good game then, right? Right??!?

    Let’s get one thing straight right now: this is not a good game. Not at all. It’s downright terrible in fact, and it looks perversely out of place in the much-loved Ghostbusters universe – like a vicar conducting a funeral in a gimp suit. The tedious (though thankfully skippable) comic strips which tell the story, such as it is, are just the start of this game’s problems. Okay so it’s painful to see Janosz shoehorned in to make it feel more Ghostbusterlike; and, yes, the script seems to have been written by somebody who’s had comedy described to them but has never seen it in action. But the real trouble starts when you actually start to play.

    SoS (never has there been a more ironically apt acronym) is a twin-stick shooter presented in isometric 3D. Initially, your only weapon is the iconic Proton Beam; but you soon have access to the full range of, er, three weapons. They’re colour coded – red for the Proton Beam, yellow for what is essentially a shotgun, and blue for a rifle-style gun. Enemies, too, are colour coded; hit them with the appropriately coloured weapon to deal maximum damage. The blue beam’s gimmick – that ricocheted shots are more powerful – is a good idea in theory. In practice, it’s virtually impossible to use this feature tactically.

    Trust us, it's a lot more fun just looking at the pictures.

    Eight of the twelve levels are simply a series of (mostly single screen) rooms. Kill all enemies that spawn, move on to the next room, kill all enemies that spawn, repeat until you find the boss; the only creature in the level that requires a token use of the ghost trap when defeated, accompanied by a Simon Says style button press sequence. As the rooms are all so cramped – some ridiculously so – tactical ricochets aren’t usually practical.

    Oh, and that ‘Ecto 4WD’ which bafflingly replaces the Ectomobile? It appears twice, no you have no control over its course, and yes you still have to get out a few times for cramped combat.

    There are always four ‘busters on-screen at once, all “rookies” of course, with Venkman et al pushed into the background. You can play with three others locally, or (if you can find that many people unlucky enough to have bought the game and still play it) online. It’s certainly preferable to relying on the AI, which is terrible – especially when you die and wait for them to revive you. With no active human support, it has a tendency to literally run in circles and get stuck in clumps of powerful enemies.

    As an added bonus, the game is stretched out like a corpse on a rack by having each of the five locations used with (very) minor changes twice each. Two other levels are no more than boss fights (and one reused area is a boss rush). In fact, were it not for the hateful tenth level – which throws seemingly endless waves of some of the most powerful enemies at you in each tiny area – the whole sorry affair would be over and done with in less than three hours.

    Achievement unlocked: Make busting ghosts from a moving vehicle boring within 20 seconds

    Although we came across a bug that prevented enemies spawning in one room (forcing us to restart the level), SoS is otherwise perfectly competent on a technical level. The biggest shame perhaps is that some of the enemy designs are actually quite good, not that this is easy to see with the (necessarily) distant game camera. That said, most of the bosses – much like the script – took a wrong turning on the way to Funnytown and ended up in Stupid City. A huge spider called ‘Huge Spider’? An evil train? Puh-lease.

    The sad fact is that the best thing about this game is the Ghostbusters theme tune, which plays at the title screen. If you’re thinking of buying this, pick one of the cheapest XBLA indie arcade games at random instead. It’ll cost you a tenth of the price, and whatever it is will almost certainly be better than this.


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    Written by Luke K

    Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He’s the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you’ll find something he’s written in there.

    Luke doesn’t have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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