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Ghostbusters; The (Single Player) PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Wednesday, 17 June 20099 Comments


After years in the making and months of developmental uncertainty, we finally have the Ghostbusters game we didn’t know we wanted so badly.  Back in 2006, Slovenian developer Zootfly lit the five alarm fire that had the internet in a frenzy over a next generation Ghostbusters video game.  Sony realized that they had a potential hit on their hands; they just needed the right developer to make this game shine.

Developed by Terminal Reality, published by Atari in North America and exclusively by Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe; Ghostbusters: The Video Game released today with a ton of internet hype and fanboy nostalgia.

But how well can a 25 year old movie franchise translate to a next generation video game and more importantly, to a totally new audience?  There are many questions surrounding Ghostbusters: The Video Game but the most important is this, who ya gonna call?

First things first, when you pop in the disc you will be greeted by a mandatory install.  I know these are somewhat of a pain and an annoyance for some gamers, like Pepperidge Farms bread with their double wrapping nonsense.  No one wants an extra step between them and toast, and the same applies to videogames.  I’m not going to bore you with fancy quantitative measures like minutes or any other type of time/space calculation; but I will give you some numbers: I went number one, I took my dog down three flights of stairs for him to do number one and number two. You could say he did a number three. Another trip up the stairs and voila, install done. Better than the ‘go make yourself a sandwich’ timeframe, huh?

We Got The Talent
Two years have passed after the events of the Ghostbusters II movie.  You play the role of the new Ghostbusters recruit, fresh off the street like Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters I.  It’s your first day on the job and you are going to realize that a real Ghostbuster learns from experience.  Whether he’s ready or not.  The firehouse serves as your training level as you try to get a certain class V full-roaming vapor back to his containment cell.  Your adventure as an ‘experimental equipment technician’ begins.

The physical was a bit uncomfortable to say the least.

The physical was a bit uncomfortable to say the least. And in public!

Over the course of your adventure the Ghostbuster team will call you by every nickname imaginable: bucko, kid, tiger, new guy, trainee, chief, junior, cadet, scooter, rookie, hoss, newbie; everything but your ‘real’ name.  By the end of the game you may be filled with self doubt as to whether or not you had one in the first place.  Apart from a few well placed grunts and a scream or two, ‘the cadet’ does not speak a single word. ‘The trainee’ really shines during some cutscenes though; his facial expressions and body movements often steal the scene.  Make no mistake about it, the original ghost busting crew are the stars of this game; you play a supporting role in the adventure.

But I really like this approach.  You are not playing a predetermined character with its own voice, attitude and agenda already planned into the game and story.   This really lets you settle in the role of a new Ghostbuster while enjoying the rest of the crew’s personalities as they interact with you and ‘break you in’ the world of the paranormal.  Terminal Reality really figured out the perfect way to deliver the story without having the playable character as an intrusion.

Ghost Fever Grips New York
The game looks and plays like a Ghostbusters fanboy dream.  You get your Proton Pack which looks amazing; especially in poorly lit environments when all those lights blink and shine like they really serve a purpose.  The proton stream and all other experimental streams and effects look great and the destruction they cause is represented nicely by the physics system.

There may be some internet hoopla about the PS3 version looking worse than the 360 counterpart.  This reminds me of the better PC or better girlfriend theory; as soon as you get one, there seems to be a better one somewhere else.  It’s nonsense, Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the PlayStation 3 looks amazing.  I’m sure your girlfriend and PC look amazing too.  However, there is some noticeable pixelation in some cutscenes and in the loading screen videos and animations, but nothing worth getting upset about.  It just shouldn’t be there.

Make all the fuzz you want; you <i>know</i> we look good.

Make all the fuss you want; you know we look good.

Like I mentioned with the story, Ghostbusters: The Video Game delivers a ghost busting gameplay experience like no other.  During your career as a Ghostbuster you get the opportunity of ‘busting’ one on one with each original Ghostbuster, team up with two or more teammates, go at it alone and ultimately bust some (dead) heads with a full five man team.  Never before have five unlicensed nuclear accelerators been used in such close proximity of each other.  Crossing the streams should be completely out of the question.

There are seven missions in total across seven different environments; each mission is further divided into chapters that can be later replayed after the mission is completed.  Did you like the first boss fight but you don’t want to replay the entire level to fight it again?  Select the last chapter of that mission and away you go.  Just be sure to select the same difficulty level while replaying missions, selecting a different difficulty will wipe out your previous career and save data and start a new one.  I learned this the hard way so you don’t have to.

…And You Want To Keep It?
There are many cursed artifacts to collect and ghosts to scan, each collectable makes its way back to the firehouse where you can see and even interact with some of them.  Dancing toaster anyone?  Scanning ghosts not only gives you a back story on each one but also tells you their attacks and weaknesses.  The cursed artifacts are a blast to hunt down because they are indiscernible from regular world objects to the naked eye, you will need to use the PKE meter and your paragoggles to track their precise location and collect them.

Winston, I don't think I want to collect this one.

Winston, I don't think I want to collect this one.

So you are not only zapping and trapping ghosts, you are scanning them with your PKE meter to learn more about them and update Tobin’s Spirit Guide.  You also scan the environment around you to find hidden ghosts, haunted collectables and even where to go next if you are lost.  Your PKE meter doubles as your on-screen help guide without breaking the ghost busting illusion.

Everything You Need to Know Is On Your Pack
Ghostbusters is a very immersive game from start to finish, the hud-less design is a stroke of genius.  Your health bar and overheat meter (think ammo) are on your proton pack.  The type of stream or blast equipped is represented by one of four colors on your pack’s venting mechanism and the pack itself changes visually as well.  Even your PKE Meter is conveniently strapped next to your pack so you can easily notice any spikes in paranormal signals along with an audio cue.

The one on-screen item that I wanted to do without (but couldn’t) was the target reticle since it also acts as the ghost’s health indicator.  And you really want to keep track of each ghost’s health, especially in the later levels at the highest difficulty.

We Be Fast! They Be Slow!
Ghostbusters is not a very hard game, or a very long one.  However, it is a very good one.  There is no challenge, only Zool.  Except for a handful of potential trouble spots in the hardest ‘Professional’ difficulty level, which are easily blamed on game balancing, I was able to complete the single player career mode in about eight hours.  A second run on the easiest ‘casual’ difficulty for collecting all scans, artifacts and some missing trophies took me about five hours to complete the story.  I suspect if you are determined to run through the single player campaign you could do so in four hours, maybe less.

Ray: "You think this is going too fast?"  Winston: "Nah, time flies when you are having fun."

Ray: You think this is going too fast? Winston: Nah, time flies when you are having fun.

Remember that there is still a multiplayer component of Ghostbusters developed by Threewave Software which we will review separately.  And if you are going for that platinum you will need several playthroughs plus some serious online play, there’s plenty of replayability here folks.  Plus the game is incredibly fun and I keep finding myself going back to it for no apparent reason than to destroy everything with my proton pack.

But The Kids Love Us!
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is really a product of love.  Sony knew that for this game to truly shine the right developer had to come in and do the franchise justice.  Apart from adding a few more missions to the career mode, I can’t really see how Terminal Reality could have done a better job at bringing the Ghostbusters franchise to next-gen consoles.

The game is presented as a third Ghostbusters movie of sorts, complete with the Columbia Pictures logo, and was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis themselves, who also penned Ghostbusters I & II.  Almost the entire cast of Ghostbusters reprised their roles and lend their voice and likenesses to the video game, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis are the only ones missing.

References from events and characters from both movies are peppered in all over the game world and banter between Ghostbusters which adds a level of authenticity never before achieved in any Ghostbuster game.  There is an Extras section with all the in-game videos, artwork and even a ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘making of Ecto-1’ videos, movie trailers and even the full Ghostbusters commerical from the first movie.  Time to geek out.

Now it's your time to 'shoosh' her for good.

Now it's your time to 'shoosh' her for good.

Are you a rabid Ghostbusters fan?  You are in for a treat then, this game is full of fan service.  You get to explore an almost exact virtual replica of the Ghostbusters firehouse in-between missions, plus you get to tear up painstakingly accurate depictions of the Sedgewick Hotel and the Public Library from the first movie.  It’s eerie how close Terminal Reality recreated these two locations; you must watch the 1984 Ghostbusters movie to truly appreciate what was accomplished in this video game both visually and aurally.

There are quotes and references from both Ghostbusters movies at every turn.  The Trophy list is almost entirely named after lines from both movies.  As you run around the firehouse make sure you pay Janine a visit and hear her answer the phone as only she can.  Or make your way up to the second floor to check the answering machine and even take a shower.  A clean Ghostbuster is a happy Ghostbuster.  Somehow Vigo’s painting made it to the Ghostbusters firehouse, go keep him company and maybe he’ll tell you about the ‘evil of the times to come’.  All this is a real delight for fans of the Ghostbusters movies that even gamers new to the franchise can enjoy.

I can recommend this game to fans of the franchise and gamers totally oblivious to it.  Whatever the case, do yourself a favor and make this a Ghostbusters week.  Watch (or re-watch) the movies, play the game and bust some ghosts with me in the multiplayer mode; that multiplayer review is not going to write itself you know?