Stupid question: Why has it taken somebody a quarter century to make a half decent Ghostbusters video game? With the possible exception of Sega's Genesis version, most Ghostbusters games have been total trash. After Activision unceremoniously killed this brand new ghost-infested action game, I started to get concerned. After all, Activision knows what they're doing, and if they aren't confident in a Ghostbusters reboot, then why should I be confident that this game will buck tradition. Thankfully Atari swooped in and saved the day, because this brand new sequel is everything I've wanted in a Ghostbusters game ... and more.
Set in 1991, Ghostbusters: The Video Game reteams all four of our proton pack wearing heroes for another ghoul-filled adventure. You play the fifth Ghostbusters, a nameless, mute recruit who is about to have the worst first day on the job ever. After learning not to shoot random things in the headquarters, you (and everybody except for Winston) are rushed off to same hotel the Busters visited in the first movie. Before long the team is caught up in a massive adventure that has them solving a series of supernatural phenomenon that all seems to be tied to a brand new female character (played by Alyssa Milano).
As vague as all that sounds, that's basically the story in a nutshell. While there is a thread that ties everything together, it's not as interesting as previous Ghostbusters movies. The truth is, the game's flimsy plotline is nothing more than an excuse for you to travel to some of your favorite locations from the first movie (the library, hotel, etc.) as well as tear apart brand new areas (a graveyard, a completely different dimension and even a lost island ... no, not "Lost" island). It also gives us an excuse to listen to the witty one-liners from the cast and, obviously, bust some ghost butt. There's more than enough throwbacks to the first two films to keep fans of the series excited about who or what will show up next. I literally applauded when Walter Peck (the weasely EPA head that shuts down the containment unit in the first film) shows up to cause more trouble. At its core, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a love letter to all of the fans that have stuck with these heroes all this time.
Thankfully it's more than just a Ghostbusters fan's wet dream, it's also a solid playing action game. In a lot of ways the game resembles a significantly less violent Gears of War. The game is played almost entirely in the third-person, however, the game requires you to put on your night vision goggles, pull out your PKE meter and search for clues in the first-person, as well. You can run and jump, though your running is limited by the small areas you fight in and the jumping is hindered by the fact that you have a one hundred pound backpack on you at all times. The rest is basically run around and use your proton pack to zap enemies and save the day.
If the actual ghost busting didn't work, then that would have been the end of the game. Thankfully the developers got it right. Beyond looking and sounding spot-on, the proton beams feel like you would imagine they would from watching the movie. That is to say, they are almost uncontrollable and seem to fly all over the place. While this would be a negative for most games, the wacky aiming works in this game. Their unpredictable nature fits right in with what we saw in the two movies and gives off the sensation that you are holding the most powerful light gun ever conceived. And isn't that exactly what you want?
On top of using the standard proton pack beam, you also get three other weapons to play around with. The first one you get is a blue beam that slows ghosts down, almost like a freeze ray (but it's not using cold technology, as Egon points out). The next weapon is a slime gun, which not only allows you to shoot out slime (which evaporates certain kinds of ectoplasm), but also allows you to connect objects together like a rope, ultimately allowing you to move otherwise unmovable objects. The final weapon is the dark matter gun, which shoots out extremely powerful blasts of energy. Seeing as this weapon comes late in the game, I found it to be the least useful of all the weapons. In fact, I really only used it once or twice, usually while dealing with bosses.
Unfortunately not all of the weapons are used to their fullest potential. In fact, I would go as far as to say that some of the weapons feel like missed opportunities for puzzles. They are also conveniently given at just the right moments, something that definitely takes away from the illusion. Still, it would have been nice to see more of a reason to offer something like the dark matter gun. At the end of the day there just wasn't much use for it, which is a real bummer given its potential.
Each of the weapons has two completely different attacks. For example, your standard proton pack features both the traditional beam and something called the bozon dart, which is basically a super powered bazooka-like shot that does massive damage to anything it hits. You can also upgrade each of the weapons in multiple ways, allowing for better shots and whatnot.
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