Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Xbox 360) — Full Review

I've enjoyed Ghostbusters: The Video Game a lot. The game looks like the Ghostbusters movie, with realistic (albeit rubbery) models of the original cast as they would have appeared about 20 years ago. All the Ghostbusters' equipment is faithfully recreated from the original movie props, and all returning characters are voiced by their original actors. The script was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (writers of both movies, and the actors who portray Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler respectively), and the majority of the background music is taken directly from Elmer Bernstein's score.

You control the nameless, voiceless "Rookie," a new recruit to the Ghostbusters whose purpose in the story is to test out the new experimental equipment Egon has invented, and to free up the other Ghostbusters so they can move the plot along. The story takes place in 1991, two years after Ghostbusters II (though strangely there are very few references outside of the first movie). A Gozer exhibit has opened in the Museum of Natural History, and a psychokinetic shockwave releases Slimer from his research containment case, and the Ghostbusters chase him back to the Sedgewick Hotel, his happy haunting grounds from the first film. Once you arrive, it becomes apparent that Slimer's not the only ghost wreaking havoc. What's worse, the spirit dimension seems to be crossing over into ours!

(As I played through the story, I realized two things: 1) With dozens of different types of ghosts and monsters, including some very large ones (the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man), cross dimensional travel, and a variety of incredible powers and technologies, this is more or less the Ghostbusters movie Aykroyd wanted to make in 1984, before practical or affordable technology existed to create said effects. And 2) with all the rehash from Ghostbusters I (i.e. Slimer, Stay-Puft, Gozer, Ivo Shandor, the Sedgewick Hotel, Walter Peck, the Librarian ghost, Bernstein's score, etc.), this is what Ghostbusters II could have been like if Aykroyd, Ramis, and director Ivan Reitman hadn't strived for a more original story with the same characters and setting, instead of the common practice of basically copying the first movie for the sequel. Fortunately, by taking these familiar elements and making them interactive, it mostly justifies their repetition.)

The best way I can describe the gameplay is Gears of War with Proton Packs. Action and capturing is presented in a third person, over-the-shoulder view. Busting ghosts is a three step process that involves weakening the ghost with one of your four different beams, capturing it in another, and leading it into the Ghost Trap. In between bustings, you'll use your PKE Meter to search for spirits, clues, and cursed artifacts, the latter of which open up additional upgrades for your equipment which can be purchased at any time in the pause menu. Aside from busting ghosts, you'll also solve puzzles, most of which are pretty straight forward — eventually your fellow Ghostbusters will give you tips, should you get stuck — but some can be pretty obtuse.

All things considered, I have to say the game itself is very good, but without the Ghostbusters license and Dan and Harold's sharp writing, I don't know if the gameplay would offer enough variety to warrant the purchase. If you're a Ghostbusters fan, there's plenty to love here. I do wish the game was a little bit longer. It took me about 7-7½ hours to complete on the casual difficulty. I think one more level would have helped fill out the experience. I would have liked to see a recreation of the deleted Fort Detmerring scene from the first movie. Maybe in DLC.

I've yet to try anything online, nor have I tried the stylized Wii version. I may amend this review slightly to include online later, and I'll write a separate review for the stylized version once I get to play it. As for my score right now, it applies only to the Xbox 360 single player game.

Yea: excellent production; accurate, realistic depictions of characters, locations, and equipment; voice acting; lots of movie references
Nay: a little too short; a lot of rehash from the first movie, very few references to the second; somewhat repetitive; rubbery, over-exaggerated facial animations

1 comment:

  1. "Like Gears of War", eh? Good thing you didn't say that on the podcast, we would've given you so much shit for it ;)