Ghostbusters – Xbox and PS3
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If you don’t know The Ghostbusters, … well, I’m trying to come up with something clever here, but the truth is if you can read this, you SHOULD have heard of the Ghostbusters. It was a blockbuster movie 25 years ago, it’s a top selling DVD and now Blu-Ray title. Flat out, Ghostbusters is one of the most popular comedy films of all time and has made its way into the crevices of pop-culture. This isn’t the first game to be based on the franchise. The Atari 2600, Commodore 64, even table top board games have seen their versions of Ghostbusters. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are easily the best.
Players take the role of a rookie, new to the New York paranormal investigative team. Don a jumpsuit and strap on an unlicensed nuclear accelerators to your back and get to bustin’. The year is 1991 and the city of New York has contracted the Ghostbusters as sort of civil servants. Working for the city saves them loads on insurance costs. At any rate, all hell seems to be breaking loose (again) starting with a paranormal blast occurring at a soon-to-open Gozer museum exhibit. Ghostly activity is on the rise and the boys hop once again into Ecto-1 armed with upgraded proton packs, slime canons and other experimental equipment to take out the otherworldly offenders.
The title has good graphics, great sound and fun gameplay, which is what my reviews usually delve into. Where this game REALLY shines is the writing, the voice acting and how much of a fitting sequel the story is to the movies. It helps that a majority of the original actors are back to voice their likenesses: Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton…even the dude who played Vigo the Carpathian from the second movie makes can be heard reprising his role. New to the cast are Alyssa Milano (as Dr. Venkman’s love interest) and Murray’s brother Brian Doyle plays the New York mayor. To boot, the CGI actors are just shy of being uncanny likenesses which really helps to bring things together. Plus, dialogue was penned by Akroyd and Ramis primarily, which makes for fast and natural chemistry between our heros as the laughs come just as much from the gorgeous cut-scenes as they do from in-game quips.
That’s not to say that gameplay isn’t up to snuff. Players encounter two base types of enemies: creatures and ghosts. Creatures can be destroyed by pummeling them hard enough with one type of blast or another, but ghosts have to be trapped. Once a ghost has been worn down using whatever attack, a capture beam is thrown around the spook and it’s the player’s job to drop a trap (or use another team member’s) and wrangle it into the vortex long enough for the trap to close. In between times make use of the detection equipment like the PKE meter and paragoggles (get it? para – pair of!) to locate ghosts and haunted collectibles that earn you cash to upgrade your equipment. During combat, you’ll be called upon to help revive fallen comrades, which is essential because teamwork plays such a strong role in bringing down tougher spectres.
Not all is well in spook central though. They aren’t deal breakers, but things like stiff character controls and some maddiningly long load times in the single player make for a lot of expletive yelling. One particular sore spot is dialogue repetition. Playing on the most difficult skill level means a lot of dying, which means repeating sections over and over. It wouldn’t be so bad except that most major battles occur after a good amount of story setup and in-game dialogue that can’t be skipped. Finally, online multiplayer isn’t particularly inspired (taking ‘jobs’ to earn cash or simply surviving ghostly onslaught), so it probably won’t knock Call of Duty 4 off the charts.
So one bad paragraph out of five isn’t so bad. If you’re a fan of the films, there’s zero reason not to give Ghostbusters at least a rental, if not a place in your library. As Ray Parker Jr. put it 25 years ago, “Bustin makes me feel gooood!”.