Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Genre: Action-adventure game
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Mad Dog Games
Released: October 4, 2019
I have wanted to play this game for some time after learning that it continues the story of the first 2 movies and is considered as part of the Ghostbusters canon. I had put it off with the same reason I put off most movie to game translations, they tend to be bad (we talked about this already, so I won't go down that rabbit hole), and I have a great love for Ghostbusters, so I didn’t want to be let down.
A friend had previously recommended the game and I finally saw my chance after it became free on the Epic store not long ago. I installed the game and started playing and right from the start I was not disappointed. The game starts with a very cinematic opening and you are treated to the cheesy made Ghostbusters advert, followed by a creepy intro set in a museum with a guard finding something strange, and before you know it the music kicks in and it 1984 again and you just want to scream “Who you gonna call!”
In case you didn’t know I am a huge fan, and while the game has a retro feel to it, the remaster has done an incredible job for a game that is over 10 years old. First released in 2009, the game was a solid success, but as the old saying goes never meet your heroes and I wasn’t willing to subject myself to a game based on a movie as I carried the same bias that so many gamers do.
The Real Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters features the original cast from the movies, casting the player as the silent fifth ghostbuster (sorry Tully) known as the rookie, for me this was an awesome idea as I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with these guys and feel like I was part of their story. As a long-time fan of Ghostbuster, I got such a buzz with so many of the characters brought back as you make your way through this love letter to the franchise.
Deep down I knew the answer before checking, but as soon as I saw written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in the opening credits, I was completely sold on the game. It is clear from the start that the foundation of this game holds up to what made the movies great.
For those unfamiliar with Ghostbusters, or if you have only watched the recent movie made in 2016, it’s worth noting what made these movies and this game so great, is that the humour comes from not trying to be funny or bad ass, it’s usually the opposite.
Ghostbusters is fundamentally about these scientists who are blindly stumbling about in a field of research that no one has stepped foot in. It’s summed up well in an elevator scene as Ray and Egon are nervously stating the fact that they had not successfully tested the equipment, as Peter retorts sarcastically “Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.”
Something strange in the neighbourhood
The story picks up on Thanksgiving in 1991, 2 years after the second movie, it’s clear that while they have a bit more experience, everything is still very much cobbled together with experimental tech that even they are a bit hesitant to fully test themselves, opting instead to let the new guy try out the new toys!
At the start we see that the original Ghostbusters are still in business and a little over worked with need of more help. Casting the player as a rookie was an excellent step narratively speaking as the tutorial felt completely organic and part of the story development given that you needed to be shown the ropes.
Each chapter flows nicely with a good combination of creepy quiet wandering through halls and buildings, sometimes using the proton pack to navigate certain obstacles. The action can amp up quickly with ghosts appearing in all manner of forms, often forcing you to stay on your toes as a few hits and you could be toast.
One important thing to remember as well, is that while you are fighting you must keep in mind you are part of a team, and you often need to come to their aid, fans will notice this concept is introduced very early on in a scene cut right out of the first movie.
Time to bust some Ghosts!
What we have is a third person shooter following the player and the team as you move through buildings and streets shooting and catching ghosts. You quickly get to grips with the core mechanics and the UI is done masterfully as your proton pack works as your HUD showing you all the necessary info like Health and energy level. I felt this was a nice touch as interfaces tend to break immersion by having unnecessary clutter on your screen.
Everything in the game feels like it belongs, as the game is driven by the call outs you hear on the radio or the noises made on your PKE meter as you go about scanning for ghosts.
Upgrades throughout the game come in the form of reinvestment in your gear and the writers even take the time to poke fun at the untested and highly dangerous equipment as Egon gives crazy and bizarre reasons for new modes on the proton pack.
After a certain amount of progress, the action consists of rotating through the proton pack’s different modes to tackle the various ghosts with the occasional boss battles that will require some inventive way to bring the ghost down. The additional modes do give some variety to the game and I did love the scientific and yet crazy way each mode would be explained by Ghostbusters. This ties up nicely together to provide a fairly balanced combat and exploration-based adventure.
A worthy successor
All in all we have a solid game that holds up reasonably well even by today’s standards, and while the remaster gives everything a fresh look, there are still elements that stick out that feel like more care could have been given to it, the biggest one of these is the shaky lip syncing, some of the cut scenes also look like they were left out of the remastered touch up altogether.
I think if you are a fan of the Ghostbusters and have not played this game, then you are doing yourself a disservice. I feel that the game has aged to a point that some will be put off by the dated graphics, but there is a truly great story at the heart of this game, and I would strongly encourage anyone who enjoys a good adventure driven game to give it a go.
Play this game if:
You like story driven games
You have a love for all things Ghostbusters
You like action styled third person shooters
You ain’t afraid of no ghost!
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