Who ya gonna call?. Ghostbusters Review!June 27, 2009
Yeah, it’s another one of those movie games. We all cringe, and die a little inside when we see these on the store shelf. Seeing our favorite films boiled down to the most retarded gaming experience any sloth missing a toe could defeat.. if he didn’t get bored with it first. What makes studios do these things?.. seems like every movie coincides with some dreadful game. Iron Man movie? Rocked. Iron Man game? Boring as all hell. The Matrix? fantastic flick.. the following game Enter the Matrix?. glitchy and broken. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?. OK movie. The game?.. especially the PSP version?. I died a little inside, deep down where I’m soft and gentle.
So when Ghostbusters was announced in 2007 to be in development by a studio called Zootfly. I wasn’t impressed. sure, My interested perked up a little bit, but it quickly subsided as I remembered nearly every single Movie based game EVER… excluding 2. Chronicles of Riddick, and Spiderman 2. I didn’t have much faith that this game would do much more than suck lots of meat.
What makes this one any different?. Lots, and I’ll tell you.
First off, the game didn’t start as a mad grab for your cash, which is what usually happens with movie game releases. This one also didn’t coincide with any movie release (Although, Ghostbusters on Blu-ray came out the same day, that was more a MOVIE release to coincide with the game, not vice versa.) development of the game was started by a studio called zootfly who, apparently, just thought Ghostbusters would make a cool game. After getting pretty far into development though, it was discovered that Zootfly didn’t have the rights to Ghostbusters, so.. everything they did had to either be scrapped or changed. So they announced TimeO.…which.. just kinda disappeared. But when the Zootfly version was killed, a version from Terminal Velocity emerged. After also, nearly finishing the game. A merger between Activision (prior publisher) and Blizzard caused the game to fall through the cracks and it had no means of being published until Atari picked it up several months later.
Second: The game is written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, Writers of the Ghostbusters movies. Along with that, Nearly all the original cast from the movies have reprised there roles in the game. only Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis haven’t returned. that caught my interested as well.
OK, with some of the background history of the game setup. Let’s get into why this game is cool.
The game is set a few years after the events of Ghostbusters 2 in 1991. The opening cut scene is set in a Museum, more specifically, the Gozer exhibit. A guard is set out to look into some suspicious activity when suddenly a bright blue blast of light exits the museum and engulfs the city. This is when the game begins.
You don’t actually play as any of the Ghostbusters in the story mode, you play as “the Rookie”, your name is never used, your either the rookie, the Noob, newfish, tiger, ya know, whatever pet name they call you. At the start, your about to tell them what your name is, but Peter stops you and says “no names, I don’t want to get attached in case.. ya know, something happens to you, Rookie.” It works, not playing as one of the famous ones is all good as it feels better to be able to just sit back and watch them. And it’s cooler to have them call out for help and such when it’s you there calling for, not one of the other ones.
The story, which I was hoping to be fantastic. Wasn’t. It wasn’t bad, really. I think I was just expecting more. Some Gozer cult members are able to summon him and cause havoc on New York once again. This time, the ghost world and the real world are being merged together, which causes a lot of overtime for the Ghostbusters. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the story. But, there is a new love interest for Peter (Bill Murray) in the way of Alisa (Alysa Milano) I’ll tell you that much.
You control “The Rookie” with the Left Stick, which allows for walking, and the Right stick is the camera POV.. which is typical for this type of game. Right trigger fires the proton packs main fire mode and the left trigger fires an alternate mode. Right bumper allows you to “vent” the proton pack to keep it from overheating, and the left bumper is used to unleash the Lasso Stream, allowing you to grab ghosts or other objects and through them around or drop them in a trap. A button (X for Ps3.) is used to dodge in conjunction with a direction on the left stick, B (O on PS3.) is used to sprint for a short distance. X (Square on Ps3) is used to drop a trap. and Y (triangle on Ps3) will bring up your PKE member and push the game from a 3rd person perspective into a 1st person view. in this view, you’ll be able to track ghosts, find special collectibles, and collect data.) Collecting special items and bagging ghosts will give you money. With this cash you’re able to upgrade your weapons, gain new abilities, and boost traps and PKE meter. The directional pad is used to select the different weapons in the game. up is the default proton pack, left is the Shock Blast, Right is Meson Collidor and down is the Slime Nozzle.
The game controls very well. If you’ve played other third person games than the learning curve is pretty low, which is a good thing, this means that you can jump right in and feel like a Ghostbuster. Which this game is able to do in spades. Everything from the proton pack the dropping a trap and having to wrangle your first ghost into it felt awesome, like you are a real Ghostbuster. After bagging a few in the 1st level, I got a little worried that it would get repetitive. But it stays fun and doesn’t get too monotonous by introducing different kinds of ghouls and creatures that require different strategies to take down. some require to be trapped, others require to be slammed around to break, and so on.
The introduction of new weapons also keeps things fresh. instead of just having a proton stream and Slime shooter (from Ghostbusters 2.) we are also introduced to the Shock Blast, which is essentially a shotgun, with an alternate firing mode of Dark Matter. This slows enemies down for a short while. Also, the Meson Collidor. Basically your machine gun. this weapon has a high rate of fire. It’s alternate is just a big power shot that will push your pack to overheat instantly (before upgrades). and finally, the Slime shooter. This ooze is needed to clear black slime which can hurt you. it’s alternate fire is the slime tether. a string of slime that allows you to move hanging objects out of the way, or tether a ghost to a trap, keeping it from flying out and allowing them to be trapped fast!. When you use the PKE meter and get a scan of a type of ghost, it’ll tell you that ghosts weaknesses, which is great. from then on, you just have to remember what the ghost looks like, and you can switch quickly to the weapon that is best against them. This mixes the gameplay up to a pretty good degree. entering a new room I would select the proton stream. Once I caught a glimpse of a ghost I would switch quickly to the proper weapon and so on to the next ghost.
The level design is pretty good. You’ll revisit many places from the movies, such as the library, and the Sedgwick Hotel where you saw Slimer for the 1st time. After that you’ll move to new locations which fit well into the Ghostbusters universe. Sometimes the levels get a little deja vu. you’ll swear you’ve either been there before or you’ll get a little lost because a lot of hallways look very much alike. Once you leave the more “common” scenery though, this goes away.
A couple things I had issue with when it came to gameplay. Weapon upgrades are pretty easy to get, and you can easily get them all a little over half way through the game. So that push to get more cash and find ALL the hidden items becomes a little mute. Unless you’re gunning for the achievement or Trophy. If your on the PC, might as well not bother anymore. Another problem was the durability of the other Ghostbusters. On the harder difficulty, Many times you spent more time reviving them than you did shooting at whatever you where suppose to catch. It got pretty ridiculous at one point in the game that I remember. I would revive each Ghostbuster, and right after I had gotten the last one back on his feet, 2 more would fall. As I got one of those 2 back up, there went 2 more. I felt I had been delegated the Medic of the group. Granted, you’re not required to revive the other members. But if they are all unconscious then that means all that damage is now going directly for you. Which basically means you die, so again, while it’s NOT REQUIRED to revive them…it’s basically required.
The A.I. in the game is a mixed bag of mostly good things. The other busters will do less damage then you, this is typical and understandable or else the game would be REALLY easy. They hit there marks well, not perfectly, which makes them feel more human, and once you’ve scanned a ghost to see what weapon is best for it, they’ll switch to that weapon against the ghoul from now on. This in particular is helpful, if you forget what weapon to use and don’t feel like opening your PKE, just look at what the others are shooting him with. I haven’t had issue with the AI getting stuck in walls or lagging behind or getting lost. They do take there sweet time reviving you though. many times I would have to wait the time limit before popping back up. Aside from those quirks the AI isn’t half bad.
For the most part, this game looks pretty freaking good. The majority of the texture work is pretty good, especially on the proton pack which is right there the whole game, so, if that didn’t look good than it would have been bad. But it looks great, character animation for the most part is very well done and fluid. Lighting in the game is great, when out in a big open area you get a good sense of scale and detail that went into everything. It’s pretty obvious that the Ghostbusters and everything about them got the most detail and attention, some of the random guys and “extra” things don’t have the same polish as the main characters, while that’s typical in games it really shouldn’t be. it’s not bad, and if your not nitpicking the game then you probably won’t notice little things like that.
The proton pack, as said earlier, got a lot of attention. which is good. the detail on the pack itself is fantastic. not only that, but the proton stream and the effects it does to the surrounding world is impressive. Nearly everything in the game is destructible, and you’ll get a tally of how much the thing you just ‘sploded cost. it’s fun to see how much you can destroy without the counter starting over. Everything seemed to break in the way it should too. which makes it that much more fun and engrossing. shoot a table?. it’ll break in half and catch fire. did it have a table cloth?. Well, it burned up too, separately. Shoot a bush?. POOF! big fireball and now it’s a smoldering twig in the ground. Miss a ghost and hit the wall? big scorch mark. There is a fight against Stay-Puft that is pretty impressive as well. shooting him in the face, will cause it to melt and become deformed, not in real-time mind you. But the fact that they thought about that was cool.
One issue with the graphics is the utter failed attempt at lip-syncing. If they did the whole South Park Canadian flappity head thing it probably would have been more realistic.. Sometimes it syncs up.. but most the time the timing is pretty far off!. nobody stopped the team that was suppose to sync this up and went.. “uh.. guys?. that’s awful. do it again, and sober up before you try it again.” Once in a while a low res texture will pop up. Objects that have been broken will clip through walls and floors and such, again, I’m going to say this is typical for most games and not knock it too much for that. Although, the rag-doll physics can be funny looking most the time. falling over always looks silly and not realistic at all.
As soon as the game starts it feels like a Ghostbusters movie. Everything from the proton packs powering up the the music at the Main Menu. Everything feels like the Ghostbusters and this really helps to suck you into the game. The audio in the game is very detailed. When running, not only do you hear your hurried footsteps (duh, you should.) but you hear metal jingling, the proton pack shifting around, I think I even heard the change in the rookies pocket. Having the music from the Ghostbuster movies there in the background helps too and sounds great, depending on the atmosphere the game will switch tracks to a more suitable selection. you couldn’t feel more like a Ghostbuster without having a dream about getting head from a phantom.. (watch the 1st movie again if you don’t remember.)
But, not is all well in the audio department. Since, again, this is suppose to be the 3rd installment of the Ghostbusters franchise, that is how I’m going to rate this part of the game. because, honestly, they could have had lackluster graphics and still done amazing as long as the audio was perfect. Not often does the sound of something weigh more on the way something feels than the graphics do. And even though the majority of the sound is great, the most important part feels wrong.
The Voice acting.. *sigh*. While Harold Ramis did a good job, and Dan Aykroyd did a commendable job as well as Ernie Hudson (The black guy.) Although Aykroyd could have done better. I was disappointed with the rest. William Atherton (Pecker..uh, Peck, sorry) Simply didn’t sound like himself, and when I finally was like “oh, yeah I guess that is him.” he seemed to phone it in. no gusto behind his performance. Annie Potts did alright, but again, just not enough gusto.. ok, I guess that criticism is unfounded as her character is deadpan anyways. The person that is most disappointing was Bill Murray. At first it just felt like he was simply doing a parody of his character. But as I went through the game, each time he came on scene I would pulled out of the whim of the game. His lines where fine, he had many funny lines. But his delivery just seemed like “This is how I’m suppose to act. la la la” In the movies he was that care free, smart ass, but realistic guy who you’d have a beer with, he didn’t seem better than you, he was just different. In the game, his lines are delivered as if it was beneath him to be doing a “video game” and I could sense that while playing. Alyasa Milanos voice work was just.. there, she really didn’t have much of it, but when she spoke it was realistic.. if not a little undertoned.
As this game got closer and closer to it’s release, I got more and more excited, I guess I got swept up in the hype. While it didn’t reach that “hype”, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, this game is pretty cool. Single Player was a little short, but it was fun while it lasted, the weapons upgrading seemed to end too early. The story seemed the lose track and then just end a little rough and… silly. Sure, I know, it’s Ghostbusters, but it just didn’t feel right.. the ending AFTER the credits (yes, just like some movies.) was pretty cool and open things up to a sequel which I would totally buy too. This game was just fun.
It wasn’t without it’s issues of course, chief amongst them, that I haven’t even touched on is it’s clusterfuck of a multiplayer.
In the X360 and Ps3 version, we get a slew of Multiplayer options which are all fun to play… but, we don’t get a true campaign co-op, we can’t go through story with someone else, and we do not get ANY Split-screen play. I posted about this a few weeks ago and how this generation of games have completely forgotten that.. hey guess what?. My 360 can let 2 people play at the SAME TIME!. hole shit, amazing huh. Not only that, it can allow 4 people!. some crazy voodoo going on there!. If that wasn’t a kick to the nuts, the Wii version has no online play, but gets the Split-screen co-op. How ridiculous is that?. It’s not even the best part. The PC version,….get this, has NO MULTIPLAYER what-so-ever. This completely baffles me. all 3 versions are technically the same (Wii has cutesy graphics.) and all 3 have completely different multiplayer specs, or, lack there of.
Aside from that HUGE glaring slap in the face.. this game is pretty good! imagaine that, another Movie based game that rocks!
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