Ghostbusters: The Video Game – review

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbone, PC, Switch
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Mad Dog Games
  • Developer: Terminal Reality, Red Fly Studios, Saber Interactive
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.playghostbusters.com/en 
  • Game purchased by reviewer

It’s “videogame”! Count yourselves lucky we don’t automatically knock six points off the score. Also, yes, you need to stick the word ‘remastered’ on the end for the full title, but we’re not reviewing smoothed textures and improved frame rates here (though for the record there’s still a bit of work to do, especially in the muddy cutscenes). Consider instead the quandry faced by the writers and developers the first time around. Fans want an experience that matches the Ghostbusters they know and love; but, with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis on scriptwriting duties, they also want some brand new #Content.

For the first few hours, therefore, things threaten to remain overfamiliar. It’s great to have all four original Ghostbusters, and Janine too (Rick Moranis’s absence is explained by Louis being “sick”); but you also have Slimer, the Sedgwick Hotel, Peck, the librarian, Stay Puft… heck, Venkman even gets slimed in the hotel corridors. Again.

The slightly uncomfortable sense of deja vu disappears after a while though and, to be fair, it’s never exactly the same as before. You play the part of a mute and unnamed new recruit known only as Rookie, and there are plenty of new ghosts for you to bust alongside your colleagues. Initially, this means using your trusty proton pack in a (pleasingly) familiar and satisfying manner. Wear a ghost down by zapping it, tearing the environment apart along the way as you try to keep up with its movements, then ensnare it with a capture beam when it’s weak. Throw over a trap, and pull the ghost down into the cone of light it emits. Now this is exactly what we all came here for!

Your slime gun shoots green slime, and there are rivers of… black slime. What happened to that bubblegum pink stuff?

As you progress however, you unlock more functions for your pack. These are disappointingly videogamey – especially the shotgun and homing bullets – but slot into the experience well, so don’t stick out too much. Impressively, the fact that some ghosts are destroyed rather than captured doesn’t even feel out of place, especially as these are often small and weak enemies. This, however, leads into discussion of the game’s main problem.

Let’s not beat around the haunted bush. Some of the environment design is terrible, specifically that for boss fights and siege-style battles. All of the bosses are mechanically simple, but wield devastating attacks. This wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that these fights take place in arenas that severely limit your movement and ability to evade. Elsewhere, there are intense fights that take place in fairly small areas, sometimes involving swarms of the aforementioned weak (but fast) enemies. It’s hard to know what we did more of during our time playing Ghostbusters; reviving our comrades, or swearing passionately. We’re sure as hell never going to try playing on the highest difficulty.

The mystery of how his hat stays on at such a ferocioiusly jaunty angle is never solved.

While there are undeniably several frustrating sequences that could have been improved with better design, there’s still a lot to love for a Ghostbusters fan. As Aykroyd says in one of the included featurettes, the game is essentially Ghostbusters 3. All of the actors are giving it their all to replicate their movie performances, there are some great lines, and at its best moments the game feels pretty much exactly as you’d hope. The insurmountable differences between a game script and a film script do weaken things a bit, though. There’s some tutorial chat and hint prompting, and the decision was clearly made to avoid any prolonged slow and quiet sequences, which messes with the pace and character/plot building a bit. Nonetheless, it remains far more successful than you might have reasonably hoped.

It’s worth pointing out that the multiplayer element from the original is missing entirely, though Saber Interactive has promised this will be provided via an update at a later date. Still, if you missed this game the first time around, then the sensible pricing of the remaster (apart from £30 on Switch, which is a little high) makes it an attractive proposition. You won’t get to drive the Ecto-1 – something that is emphasised via a very cruel (but effective) joke near the end – but you will get to bust a heck of a lot of ghosts alongside your heroes.

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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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