Developer: Terminal Reality
Release date: Available now
I stumble blindly back to my feet after suffering a stomping that could only have come courtesy of the embodiment of evil (in the shape of a 100-ft-tall Sumerian marshmallow). A familiar “ching-whiiiiirrr” emanates from my proton pack, and I eagerly unleash a stream of nuclear energy at the white giant, crisping his outsides and spawning a fully blown craving for graham crackers and chocolate. After 25 years of waiting, I’m finally a Ghostbuster, and it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed it would be…almost.
Playing Ghostbusters: The Video Game is like being dropped into an alternate 1991. In the game, you play a rookie recruit to the team, and at the request of one Peter Venkman, you remain nameless and voiceless because of “what happened to the last guy.” It’s appropriate, considering your title within the ranks is “Experimental Equipment Tester.” I guess when you strap an unlicensed nuclear accelerator to your back, death can come by degrees, so nobody wants to get too close.
From a third-person viewpoint, you and the rest of the Ghostbusters make your way through haunts both old and new. One moment you’re trashing a familiar hotel ballroom in pursuit of everyone’s favorite Class 5 full-roaming vapor, and the next you’re reeling in floating platforms and navigating corridors in a hellish alternate dimension. Each spiritual encounter feels just shy of a boss fight, with sprinklings of filler ghosts and requisite scares to season your exploration. Search for specters using your trusty PKE meter, then throw and trap, just like in the movies! A decent amount of upgradable equipment is doled out along the way, each item carrying its own level of usefulness and purchasable upgrades. There’s even a pretty impressive multiplayer component after you’re finished with the single-player campaign.
The first thing you notice about Terminal Reality’s movie-to-game adaptation is that it’s a very pretty affair. Character models are intricate and decently animated, and you’ll feel the need to gawk at the varied environments. The original movie cast provides the character voices, sans Rick Moranis (like he didn’t need the work?) and Sigourney Weaver. Music and sound effects are pulled directly from the films, and despite some repetition in this area, they serve the mood well and flood the ears with nostalgia. This is as good a time capsule from the 1980s as gamers can find right now, although there are a few hang-ups that keep GB from attaining blockbuster status.
For starters, there are some balancing issues, especially during the fight with Stay Puft. One time his flaming marshmallow minion attack would smack me pretty good, while the next would be instant death with nowhere to run. There were also some collision-detection problems, which I found ironic, being that this is a game featuring ghosts. I spent more time than I’d like to admit shooting at a trapped bellhop specter wedged helplessly between a wall and a truck. The rest of the Ghostbusters have a few collision and scripting problems too. They would run into walls, vibrate in place and travel straight through the nearest threat on their way to resuscitate me. I’ve got to admire their loyalty, even though I lament their occasional stupidity. The multiplayer component will keep you busy after the single-player experience ends, with a variety of co-op and competitive modes wrapped in online performance that rivals the solo game. I know it’s surprising to me, too.
All around, I found the actual hunt and capture to be worthy of repeat play. Slamming a ghoul around a fragile room and into the waiting light of a trap is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and it may very well be reason enough to pick this up. Some frustrations will surely find you along the way, but the Ghostbusters experience is something any fan of the movies will truly enjoy. Bustin’ really does make me feel good!