What We Liked
Who ya gonna call?: Ghostbusters: The Video Game? Yeah, it's been 25 years since the original Ghostbusters movie debuted and you're probably wondering what took so long. Thankfully, Atari has delivered a game well worth the wait. Since Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd, the original screenwriter/actors from the Ghostbusters movies, wrote the story for the game, it serves as a sequel to the Ghostbusters 2 movie. Ramis and Akroyd lend their voices to the game along with Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson, and though the dialogue can be a tad cheesy, the story, set in 1991, moves along well and is infused with enough comical moments to keep you engaged and on your toes.
If you're seeing things running through your head: For fans of the movies, this game oozes nostalgia. The first time you catch sight of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man you'll be grinning. For folks new to the franchise, you won't be disappointed as you strap on the proton pack to chase down and capture a bevy of paranormal nasties. The game environments are varied, featuring libraries, city streets, cemeteries, other dimensions and more. Each environment boasts solid details and many destructible elements that combine with well-crafted sound effects to produce an immersive and eerie feel in the game.
Something strange in your neighborhood: You'll view your character, a trainee with the Ghostbusters, in a third-person perspective. Character movement is on the slow side but the game is clearly at its best when you're tracking down ghosts and capturing them. The basic idea is to hammer ghosts with your proton pack until they're weak enough for you to use the capture stream and haul them into traps. Wrangling the ghosts into traps can be tricky, but even though it's an inexact science it's a satisfying experience when you bag one. In most cases you'll be playing alongside the AI controlled members of your team, so the more beams on the ghosts, the faster you can weaken and trap them. It's an impressive sight when you're fighting a ghost and the screen's awash in a tangle of energy beams and paranormal madness.
Bustin' makes me feel good: As the game plays out you earn money to upgrade your primary weapon, the proton pack. Later you're able to access more modes for the pack (meson collider, green goo and shock blast). You can switch among the four using the d-pad, but once you've fully upgraded the proton pack you really won't need the other modes to beat the ectoplasm out of your foes. The other significant mechanic is the use of the Psycho Kinetic Energy Meter. You'll use the PKE to locate hidden artifacts and to scan and flush-out ghosts. The data you collect in the process will inform your attack strategy and provide back story.
Don't get caught alone, no no: The game features six online modes which are surprisingly fun and not just a tack-on feature like you'd expect. The six modes include Containment (nab as many ghosts as you can on the clock), Survival (face increasingly sizeable waves of enemies), Protection (defend marked spots against attacks), Destruction (destroy artifacts on the clock), Thief (fight to get back artifacts after ghosts steal them) and finally Slime Dunk (capture the most ghosts). Slime Dunk is probably the most entertaining, as part of the strategy is to blast the other human Ghostbusters to get free reign on capturing the ghosts.
Check out the game in action:
What We'd Change
I ain't afraid of no ghosts: Ghostbusters isn't a hard game to plough through, but it does suffer form occasional difficultly spikes. Your character often gets knocked down by projectiles or ghost attacks, at which point you're left to wait for the AI to revive you (you do the same for them throughout the game). But it's very frustrating in some areas where you're constantly getting knocked down and you can't avoid it, or where you're running around more than you'd want reviving the AI Ghostbusters.
I can't hear you: While it's fantastic hearing the familiar Ghostbusters songs, you're bound to get burned out on them. It would've been nice to extend the score and reduce the repetition of the core tracks.
Ghostbusters is a fantastic blast form the past. Offering quality graphics and engaging gameplay this title immediately ranks as one of the best movie franchise video games in a long time. Strap on your proton pack and get to it.
-- Reviewed by Rory Moore