If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, then you probably live next door to a decrepit old lady who keeps too many cats and should call the RSPCA. If on the other hand PS3 gaming is more the flavour of the day, then the Ghostbusters could be the summer block-buster entertainment you’re after.
The original cast have come back together to make the ghost busting experience an authentic one. The voice acting is done by Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson, and the story has also been penned by the first two. It’s a tale set after the second movie, but involves the legendary Gozer who the team battled in the first film as the Mr. Stay Puft Marshmallow man.
Many of the locations will be familiar to anyone who’s a fan of the films. The player will visit the hotel Sedgewick where Slimer was first discovered and the public library where the “shhhh” lady scared the bejesus out of the crew. The seven different locations, or eight counting the GBHQ, have been very accurately portrayed. The two arcade machines, pinball table and fireman’s pole being a dead ringer for the movie set. Whilst it might not be the shiniest pebble on the beach, Ghostbusters definitely puts across the scale of the city, and the task at hand. It’s a shame that there isn’t a bit more interaction with in-game objects, but it is possible to destroy much of the scenery with the ethereal weapons, and blasting the crap out of priceless museum exhibits gives that warm glowy feeling inside.
The game plays out very much like a movie script, there’s plenty of dialogue banter between the main protagonists, and it plays true to the spirit of the films – it’s pretty entertaining and is the main reason to keep playing though to end, after-all, everyone wants to know what happens when the streams are crossed. As might be expected from such a movie tie-in, most of the game is about busting ghosts, with the proton packs being a star of the show. When these are fired up, the rampant energy explodes on screen, a light display to behold. The idea is to drain the ghouls of their energy, and weaken them enough to get them in the traps.
Controlling the packs takes a bit of getting use to, though it becomes easier after a bit of practice, but judging where the traps are in relation to the ghost being held is pretty tricky. The feeling is out-of-control, but then man handling a proton stream is a tough job, so this probably aptly mimics the antics of the Ghostbusters’ struggle. To mix things up a little, new weapons are introduced that need to be used at certain points in the game, though generally the proton beam will see the player through most of it. There is a slight puzzle element to the proceedings, requiring the use of the other weapons in the busting arsenal to open doors or move obstacles, but nothing requiring Mensa levels of thought.
Through the different levels there are number of haunted artefacts to be discovered. Using the PK meter it’s possible to find these often hidden and out of the way objects, and they’re usually quite fun, such as a remote control Ecto-1; sadly there’s no opportunity to drive the proper car in the game. These objects don’t actually do anything but look nice in a collection; get them all and there’s a trophy reward.
Given that the player takes the role of the rookie, and that the other team members have plenty of experience under their belt, the AI, whilst nicely animated (Vankman’s swagger and eye for the ladies in particular) it can be pretty stupid at times. Rather than trying to work together to trap the ghosts, the computer driven characters will run about all over the place, leaving the player to chase the team-work thing. It’s not a massive issue as it’s still possible to capture spirits solo, it’s just easier with more than one stream on an entity. There are parts where the player is forced to venture on their own, and here there’s a real danger of seeing the game over screen. This leaves quite a long wait for the check point to reload so the action can begin again, this is despite the twenty minute mandatory HDD install.
To reach the end credits is not a particularly long experience, and can be completed within a couple of evenings, but considering the nature of the gameplay, which remains very similar throughout the game, it’s probably just as well. Anything more and the story would have been a little stretched, so the length feels about right. It’s possible to revisit any of the beaten levels, but once the story has been experienced, there seems little reason to do so, unless it’s for the completest mindset to get all the artefacts and scan all the different types of ghosts that haunt the place.
Being a fan of the film will boost the fun-factor the player gets out of the game – the script and general tone of the experience fits extremely well with the spirit of the movies, enhanced greatly by using the original actors to do the voice work. Where things fall down a little is with the game mechanics, which after thirty minutes have been exhausted and won’t change for the remainder of the title. The overall experience in Ghostbusters is an enjoyable if short lived one, so it’s well worth checking out, if only for a rental.