I’m a Ghostbusters fan. I grew up with the cartoon and love the movies. Needless to say, I was excited to see that a game was being created which would serve as the 3rd Ghostbusters movie in a way. While Ghostbusters does an awesome job in some key areas, unfortunately there are a few issues that greatly detract from the gameplay. Read on fellow busters of ghosts.
The story for this game was written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis (Ray & Egon) and serves as the 3rd “movie” in the series. The story is well-written and takes place after the events of the second film (the Vigo painting in the museum if you need a refresher). All of the original actors do the voice-work in the game as well. What works great is that you play as a 5th Ghostbuster, the Recruit, rather than playing as one of the main Ghostbusters. The single-player campaign is a tad short however and will clock in somewhere around 7-8 hrs.
Let me get this out of the way. Ghostbusters does a hell of a job of making you actually feel like you’re busting ghosts. You start the game with the Proton Pack and Ghost Trap and will use the two in tandem to capture ghosts. You’ll fire your proton stream at a ghost until it’s health reaches red. You then switch to the capture stream and will wrestle the ghost by slamming it around to daze it. You then toss out a ghost trap and hold the ghost in the beam to finish the capture. This works phenomenally well and is a strong point in the game. At no point in the game does this get repetitive or old.
When you aren’t busting ghosts, you’ll be visiting familiar locations from the films such as the museum, the hotel, and even paranormal universes. Good thing you’re armed with your trusty PKE Meter to detect paranormal disturbances. Using the PKE Meter is great as you’ll scan the areas for signs of ghosts or to locate hidden items. This also does a great job of immersing you into the experience.
As you bust ghosts, you’ll earn cash which is used to purchase upgrades for your proton pack, ghost trap, and PKE Meter. Throughout the game you will earn new proton pack beams, giving you access to new methods of taking down ghosts. There’s the stasis stream which slows down creatures and offers a “spread” shot, the slime tether which allows you to tether ghosts to objects or slime them, and the Meson Collider which fires a powerful shot along with homing shots.
Even crossing the streams in the game has implications which can cause a reversal, knocking your teammates and yourself down. Speaking of teammates, this is where the game fails miserably…
When you are hurt in Ghostbusters, you don’t die, you get knocked down. Once knocked down, a teammate must come over to help you back up. The same applies to your teammates. When they get knocked down, you’ll need to get over to them to help them up. If all of you are knocked down at any point, you fail the mission and start at the last checkpoint. Well the problem here is that your teammates are ALWAYS getting knocked down and nothing you do will prevent it. It’s frustrating because it can ruin incredible boss fights or enemy battles. There are times it doesn’t happen often, but there are MANY times where your team will all get knocked down, forcing you to run over to revive them all. At this point, chances are you’ll get attacked before you can get to one of your teammates and MISSION FAIL. Even worse is how idiotic the teammate AI is.
Example: I was fighting a boss that spun as an attack. While spinning my teammate runs directly in front of the enemy to get knocked down, looking like it was on purpose.
This broken gameplay element gets so horribly bad towards the end of the game that you will want to throw your controller through your TV. I almost did a few times but somehow managed not to. It’s not like they get knocked down once or twice either, it will get to points where they will literally get knocked down more than 20 times in a battle!!! Adding insult to injury is each time a checkpoint is reloaded, you’ll have to listen to Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbuster song from the 80’s. Great song! I’m not complaining. But listen to 30 seconds of it, every single checkpoint, and you’re going to grow to hate it soon enough.
The graphics are pretty impressive for a multiplatform game. The character models look pretty good and resemble the actors very well. The proton streams look incredibly detailed, the proton pack looks great, and most enemies, especially bosses, look spectacular. Just wait til the Stay Puft battle. It looks great.
The audio is good in that again, the original actors to the voice-work. The sound effects are solid but one noticeable downside is that the audio doesn’t sync very well to the lips of the characters when speaking. Bill Murray does a great job of playing Venkmen just as in the movies.
The multiplayer in Ghostbusters works surprisingly well. It’s not very fleshed out but it does add some replay value although I suspect you won’t spend more than 5 hrs in multiplayer unless you’re going for trophies. You join up to 3 other players online to work together in a few various game-modes busting ghosts. There are modes such as capture as many ghosts within a certain time limit, go through 10 waves of ghosts, and an extremely tough/frustrating mode of protecting these PKE Antennas. You’ll earn cash as you play rather than points, which works as the ranking system. Unfortunately no online story co-op mode was added. This would have been a perfect game for it and would have eliminated the terrible teammate AI I outlined above.
This is the second factor that really hurts the game. There are enough glitches that are prevalent enough to dedicate a section to them in the review. There are points in the game where you will have to perform an action but the game will either not register the action you performed or will not “shift” to the point where you need to perform the action. Your only option at this point is to reload your last checkpoint and hope it works the second time around. This happened to me a few different times throughout the campaign mode.
There are also a number of glitches in the multiplayer mode. I was playing the mode where waves of ghosts come at you. Well at one point, we took out all the ghosts but the next wave didn’t start. After 30 secs, one of my online teammates gets on his mic and says, and I quote “I know this is going to sound extremely stupid but we need to cross the streams. I know…it sounds ridiculous but we have to do that, knock eachother down, and the next wave will spawn. It’s a glitch.” Sure enough we cross the streams and the next wave started. Had my teammate not known this, we would have had to quit the round, wasting the time we spent in the previous rounds (as the game mode we played consisted of 3 consecutive rounds). The number of glitches is unacceptable in a game and really detracted from the overall experience.
It’s a shame that a really great story and incredible immersion of busting ghosts was ruined by glitches and terrible AI. I almost quit playing this game out of frustration from my teammates constantly getting knocked down. However, I stuck it out and finished the game. If you are a Ghostbusters fan, I can recommend this game as a very, very good rental, but not quite worth a purchase. If you aren’t a Ghostbusters fan, you won’t find much new here and it will be harder to overlook the glitches and bad AI. I really wanted to give this game a ‘B’ score, but the points I mention above detract too much from how fun the game could have been, so I just can’t do it.