Ghostbusters: The Videogame is an over the shoulder third person shooter that not only has you blasting ghosts, but wrangling them down into traps. It stars the voice acting of all four original Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson. Not just them, but other members of the cast, Annie Potts, William Atherton as William Peck, Brian Doyle-Murray as the Mayor and newcomer Alyssa Milano as Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn. You play the new fifth Rookie Ghostbuster, voiced by Ben Stiller. No I’m just kidding. He has no dialog, even though there are screams every so often. This is why you play the game, to immerse yourself in everything from the movies. To be in the firehouse between missions. To play what people call the third movie written by Aykroyd and Ramis. To be a real Ghostbuster shoulder to shoulder with them. I should mention there’s no multiplayer component like the console versions.
You will rarely bust ghosts alone. Most of the time you’re there with one, two, three or four of the Ghostbusters. They are competent partners and can really do anything you can do. Switch weapons, blast ghosts, wrangle them and trap them. In 10 hours of play, I never saw them get stuck on anything and in later parts, there is a lot to get stuck on. These partners can play the game without you, but that doesn’t mean they leave you behind or lead the way. They stuck with you and let you lead the way. The Ghostbusters move as fast as you do, so you’ll never have to wait for them.
Another thing they do well is revive. Your health slowly regenerates, but when you go down for the count, they’ll pick you back up and you’ll do the same for them! Sometimes that’s a deal breaker for people. You can even be their medic if that’s how you want to play. Let them do the work and they will, unless they’re specifically hinting at what to do.
So when it comes to ghosts, there are two types, lesser ones you have to blast into vapor. The others, more difficult ghosts that you need to weaken them enough to wrangle them. Then with them wrangled, thrown around, so if they’re scrambling to go right, you need to whip them to the left. When its time, you need to throw out a trap if there’s not already one out. With a ghost weak enough, you and the other Ghostbusters need to pull them down into the trap and keep them from moving out of the radius of the vacuum where they are free again. It is all certainly a process that will make you feel like a real Ghostbuster, because it feels like work.
That’s the game, so much of it feels like real work. You won’t just run from area to area, you’ll whip out your PKE meter and see in a first person night vision view. With the PKE meter out, you’ll be guided to supernatural activity. There are things you’ll need to find, such as clues, but also artifacts and collectables. I went through almost the entire game in PKE mode and I don’t feel like there was anything special to find. Its not a fast mode, you’ll need to follow the hot and cold signal, sometimes moving around rooms to find where the activity is coming from. The first person night vision is certainly a nice touch, its just not very quick.
The PKE is also your PDA. You’ll use it to see what your objective is, upgrade weapons and view additional information on what you just scanned into the database. Everything can be upgraded once. From damage intensity to beam heat. You pay for it with money that you get for busting ghosts. Not just busting ghosts, but destruction. Its woven into the story that New York City pays for the repairs, so somehow you get the money for blowing up cars and shooting through walls.
When it comes to weapons, you start with the typical red proton stream and the Ghostbusters give you three others periodically to test out. A blue cryo beam, green slime slinger and a rapid fire sort of yellow pulse. The slime thrower can clear up black slime environmental hazards that will hurt you. It can also seal portals that lesser ghosts spawn. All four weapons share the same energy and if the beam gets too hot, you need to vent it (reload) or you’re stuck having a cooldown for a longer period of time than a reload. If you cross proton beams too long, you’ll get a warning, followed up by an explosive, damaging discharge. All four weapons make for a colorful light show all throughout the game.
The proton beam has a default fire button that, and a wrangler button lets you grab things including ghosts if they’re weak enough. Then you can use a third button whip them around with a different button. Three buttons, one beam. On top of that there’s an alt fire. The proton beam has a sort of grenade giant projectile, the cryo beam has a straight beam when normally its a shotgun blast of a beam for faster moving targets, the rapid fire beam just fires a second shot. Think of that as a right and left sort of firing. Just firing one rapid fire shot is slow, so you alt fire to double the speed.
Finally, there is the slime tether for the slime slinger. This is the only weapon that really feels fun. Alt fire it once to connect point A, then alt fire it again to connect point B. Watch as the two points quickly come together! This allows you to pull platforms together, move objects and generally derp around for the laughs.
There are a variety of enemies that you’ll need different techniques to tackle. Rip shields away from some ghosts. Wrangle gargoyles and bash them into the ground. Slime tether flying cherubs to the ground and watch them smash. Cover black slime demons in green slime. Ghosts that possess people and the Ghostbusters, needing you to douse them in green slime to restore them. Some of the uncommon fights felt like they took way too long, especially the possessors. Can’t shoot them, because they’re in a Ghostbuster. Then still have to struggle to wrangle, throw them around and put them in a trap. The bosses were big with multiple parts. One you’d need to green slime it, because its covered in black slime, then tear its mask off, so the others can blast it.
The game had a few game breakers for me. Getting stuck in a luggage rack around my feet, preventing me from walking through a flooded hotel’s tight spots. Not doing exactly what the Ghostbuster’s told me to left them waiting for a ghost to put into the ‘super slammer’ ghost trap, when I put them in my own trap. The guys are very helpful with hints and clues.
As for the locations, the game will take you back through the first two movies. You’ll visit the Sedgewick Hotel to recapture slimer, take on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Times Square, visit the New York City Public Library and even the sewers that were once filled with slime. The game also takes you to new places I guess… like a ghost world with floating platforms that you need to slime tether together and timed running to avoid being beaten to death by books. Oh the game also takes you through a spooky graveyard. That’s new right? Every location is spooky, but not scary or horrifying. There’s no blood, just slime. The music is from the movie, but feels different like its a different performance and not the music straight from the movie like Ray Parker’s theme song.
With everything said, the game felt like work. It was great to revisit mostly the first movie and have great voice acting from characters we know and love, but there are games that are more fun. Blasting ghosts to vapor was one thing, wrangling them is another. While the game is full of comedy written by two of the best and voice acted by three of the best, I didn’t laugh out loud once. I understand that the jokes every 30 seconds were funny, I just didn’t laugh. If this was the script for a third movie, I can’t imagine it being a good movie. As for it being a good game… All this needed was to have the voice actors from the movie and a game that starts with Ray Parker’s Ghostbusters theme and ends with Ray Parker’s Ghostbuster’s theme.