Ghostbusters the Video Game at 83%: Bustin’ makes me feel…?

Children of the 80’s rejoiced when it was revealed that the boys in gray would return in a new video game across every platform.  The joy reached epic levels when it was confirmed that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis would write the game and that all four Ghostbusters would reprise their roles. In fact nearly everyone from the movies would be returning to lend their talents.  With all of this hype and excitement as well as 20 years of waiting, could the game possibly live up to all of that?  Well…Yes and no.

Game:                Ghostbusters the Video Game

Platform:             Playstation 2

Difficulty Played: Hardest

Business is booming for the Ghostbusters. They are NYC’s only defense against anything and everything in the neighborhood that don’t look good.  They are so busy in fact that as in the first movie they are looking to hire some added help, and you’re it.  Hired on as an “Experimental Equipment Technician,” you’re tasked with testing every new gadget Doctors Stantz and Spengler can cook up.

Over the course of the game the player is presented with three new tools of the trade each with its own alt-fire.  The Proton Stream returns with a new grenade like attachment.  The Slime Blower makes its return as well and comes with the ability to launch sticky slime mines.  The final weapon behaves like a shotgun and comes with a freeze ray.  Despite not appearing in the movies, these additions to the arsenal fit in well with the mythos and each is presented and explained in a manner that fits the narrative.

Everything from the writing to the returning characters and locales really makes the game feel like a third movie for the series.  Take the best moments stretch them out over ten hours and you have what can only be described as the ultimate fan experience.  Having a Proton Pack strapped to your back and Neutrona wand in your hand fulfills the Halloween costume fantasies like nothing else.

If one were to strip the game down to the core it looks and plays like a simple third person shooter.  Unlike other games of this type, shooting is half the battle.  After weakening enemies with your Proton Stream, you have to wrangle and slam them around the environment to get them in the trap.  This is handled by directional prompts.  Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a Class 5 Free Roaming Vapor sucked in screaming and writhing.  Some entities can be destroyed outright while others require varying tactics to take ‘em out.

As any fan knows eliminations are only half of the ‘Busters’ business.  There are also the investigations half of “Paranormal Investigations and Eliminations.”  Whipping out the PKE meter allows all manner of spooks to be scanned as well as revealing hidden objects in conjunction with the goggles.  Sliming these allows for them to be wrangled with the capture stream.  This brings in some welcome light puzzle solving and really makes the player feel as if he or she is filling the boots and jumpsuit.

Due to the Playstation 2’s limited graphical capabilities in comparison to its next-gen younger brother, the developers opted for cartoonish graphics.  They work pretty well although Peck looks like a cross between a catfish and Conan O’Brian.  The other characters are easily recognizable and in fact look more like their real world counterparts than they did in the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  The all important Proton Stream sounds and looks like it was ripped directly from the silver screen.  The slime blower looks and sounds fantastic and sliming everything from specters to Winston is really satisfying.

The only thing holding this game back is its propensity to freeze randomly requiring a reset of the console and loss of all progress prior to the freeze.  In fact this is the very reason why the percentage up top stands at 83%.  Three levels before the end of the game it froze and despite all attempts it just would not allow for any progress beyond that point.  The game allows gender choice but everyone uses male terms when they talk about the player character.  Hit detection can be off at times as well, although in the movies the streams did look very unwieldy.

If you are a fan of the boys in gray and are very patient and very lucky and possibly slightly masochistic, this may be the Ghostbusters experience for you.  The story is the same as its next-gen counterparts and different bosses, puzzles, and dialogue bring enough in to make it worthwhile even for those who have played the other versions.  So to answer the title question, Bustin’ makes me feel…alright.

The Good:

Solid writing, acting, and gameplay.

The Bad:

Sloppy hit detection.

The Ugly:

Game killing freezes.

What the…?

Why does Peck look so much like Conan O’Brian?


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