Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ghostbusters the Video Game: Highly Anticipated, and Surprisingly Not a Let-Down

Ahhh Ghostbusters, one of my favorite films, not only from my childhood but today as well. It's fun, it's full of great dialogue that is seriously quotable, and it's a spoof that ended up being a little more real and cool than I think Harold Ramis ever imagined it would be. It spawned a huge franchise and following, and of course even in the 80s this meant video games on "home entertainment" consoles. There was an atari game about the first movie, an arcade game of the cartoon spin-off, an NES game based on the second movie, and finally a Sega Genesis game based on the original plot. Ghostbusters also made a brief modern-day comeback in the 2002 Game Boy Advance Game "Extreme Ghostbusters: Code Ecto 1." Unfortunately, this game was not very good and was also not really marketed, so most people don't know it existed.

Ghostbusters then vanished into the void of nostalgia of all of us who knew and loved it. I was pretty sure that was the end of it, but I'm happy to say that the DVD special edition release generated so much renewed interest in the films that it spawned not only a new video game in 2009; it also brought about a confirmed Ghostbusters III movie set to begin production soon. This movie will take place after the first two and allow Ramis and Akroyd to expand upon a story they thought would never be published.

I have to admit to you that when they first announced that they were making a new Ghostbusters video game for the next-gen systems I was ecstatic. But then I remembered something: most movie-based video games suck really, really bad. But wait, Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd are writing this one? Maybe, just maybe, it won't suck! I thought to myself...and luckily for me, I was correct. Not only did this game NOT suck, but it was actually pretty decent and provides us with a great continuation of the Ghostbusters story and franchise. (Just so you know I played the PS3 version because I love Blu-Ray and have always been addicted to the play-action that the Dual Shock controllers deliver. Not to say the other versions aren't good, but I did hear the Wii and PS2 versions were a little too cartoony and dulled-down for most people.)

Right in the beginning you are dropped into the Ghostbuster's converted firehouse with the classic theme music playing your introduction. You are the newest member of the Ghostbusters and (according to Venkman) you had better watch your back because the other fifth members they attempted to add either didn't stick around for very long or disappeared because something terrible probably happened to them.

The firehouse is, down to every last detail, exactly what it was in the movie, and exactly what I wanted to see. The upstairs has the bedroom areas and awesome arcade machines in the corner. Entertainingly enough, one of the achievements is, "You Gotta Try This Pole!" which is awarded to you when you slide down the fireman's pole for your first mission. This game has nostalgia oozing out of it in so many directions it's hard to know where to begin explaining how awesome the environments can be.

Iconic characters like the State Puff Marshmallow Man, the creepy Vigo painting (which talks to you when you walk up to it in the downstairs of the firehouse), and always annoying-but-endearing Slimer are all present and accounted for. You can drive around the classic ambulance, which now has a giant trap on top of it so you can suck ghosts right into it. The soundtrack is identical to the movies (though it does get a little repetitive towards the end because they ran out of unique songs to use for levels). Honestly, everything about the construction of this game had a whole lot of time and effort put into it. People poured some serious hours into this game, and it shows. I wish they had fixed some of the gameplay issues, but what game these days doesn't have those quirky things that piss you off?! I played for hours on end because I got wrapped into the story, and I suffered some of the annoying gameplay because it was really worth it.

But of course, no game is perfect, and I was reminded of this as soon as it came time to start busting some ghosties. You get your proton pack and are instructed never to let it overheat. Your overheat meter is tiny and infuriating, as it appears in a small box on the side of your pack (which you see, sort of, but I am going to tell you I have a huge TV and it's STILL annoying to try to spot) and unless you just train yourself to press R1 every 30 seconds or so in the beginning you are just going to overheat that bastard over and over again and honestly you can just take the health drop until your pack finally gets upgraded a bit.

Aiming is ok, but a little sluggish, and I honestly see how the developers had to mix up the gameplay a little by making you "slam" ghosts into walls and the like with a kind of "lock-on" function. This does add for a little variety but not too much so don't expect a whole lot out of that aspect of the game. Much like other adventure games with repetitive enemy bashing techniques, you just have to find your groove and enjoy the story. You have to admit, even the Zelda games have a lot of repetitive gameplay. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE ZELDA GAMES so much that I have played all the best ones at least five times, but even I have to admit that it can get button-mash-tacular every so often.

My last complaint about this game is the camera. Sure, it follows you around decent enough (unlike some games) but with all the ghosts that end up swirling around you, you'll start to feel really overwhelmed like maybe you're not getting them fast enough or maybe you're just not making the cut. I started wondering at times if I was truly accomplishing my missions or just barely making the grade. When you fall down, your comrades have the opportunity to help you, but if you all get beaten down it's "game over" and you have to start the scene over again.

My advice: definitely play Ghostbusters if you are a fan. Just maybe wait until it goes down in price and it will be seriously worth it. I don't know if I would pay sixty dollars for it, but I would definitely pay thirty!

Anyone out there played the game yet? If so please leave me some feedback! I want you to give me something to work with here, even if it is only a couple of words! You can right "game sucks" for all I care...but can we get some comments from time to time?

Alright, I'm done ranting. Keep gaming!
Lady Lara Jones


Danicus said...

ill have to go find the review, but Yahtzee Croshaw at zero punctuation had a pretty good review of the game. He said the game was bad, but the review is high-quality. made me decide not to get it, anyway.

Danicus said...

here it is:

Danicus said...

also, it's "Sta-Puft"

Lady Lara Jones said...

Last I checked, Yahtzee hates familiar. lol.

Danicus said...

Untrue. he loved Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. :-p
He's hard on a lot of video games... but i honestly think most people are too lenient on them. You're shelling out SIXTY bucks for (usually) ten hours of entertainment. that stuff better be frigging phenomenal, you ask me. I dont want to put up with anything but near-perfection for that kind of money, honestly.
I suppose that's why i only buy three or four games in a year.

Lady Lara Jones said...

I'll say it again....wait until it goes down in price! $25 or $30 is plenty reasonable for this game.