Ghostbusters The Video Game Review
Finally… after years of waiting, leaked tech demos that may or may not have legit, publishing rights battles and delay after delay after delay, the Ghostbusters have found their way back into popular culture through a series of brand new adventures for just about every gaming system out there. All I can say is that it is about damn time; I've been waiting since 1991 for some substantial new Ghostbusters material. During that time, my love for the duo of comedy films about a troop of ghost-capturing scientists has popped in rather bizarre ways. My PSN and Xbox Live name(s) are a takeoff on Rick Moranis' character from the films, Louis Tulley. In the first film, when he is possessed by the entity Gozer, everyone knows he refers to himself as "The Keymaster." What most people don't remember is the monster's formal name, Vinz Clortho, and my encyclopedic memory of that aside gave birth to my online gaming handle, which I won't reveal here (people tend to unfairly gang up on the guy who hated Metal Gear Solid 4). When I was a columnist, and eventually the editor in chief, at my college newspaper, my picture always ran with the quote, "Time is but a door, death is but a window; I'll be back." Superfans of the films will remember these as the last words of the second film's painting-bound villain, Vigo the Carpathian. These are just two examples of the many ways I've kept my love for the franchise, a franchise that hasn't seen any substantial activity in nearly two decades, alive. So now that the game is FINALLY out and I've played through it beginning to end, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that not only is Ghostbusters: The Video Game a truly great one with more fan-service than even I hoped for, but it rivals games like Nintendo 64's Goldeneye, Gameboy Advance's Dragonball: Advanced Adventure and Astro Boy: The Omega Factor and the NES Disney Afternoon titles (DuckTales, Tale Spin, Darkwing Duck, Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers) as one of the very best licensed games ever released.
I realize that is a bold statement, but I can back it up. If you still aren't convinced after you've read this, just play the game for a level or two and you will be. But let's get to bold statements in a minute and catch up everyone who may not be as "in the know" as some of us. That said, everyone knows the Ghostbusters films. Everyone. They are as much classics as Caddyshack, Back to the Future and others, and perhaps most deservedly so – they are both just plain awesome and watching and re-watching them is one of the key media moments of entire life. Ghostbusters: The Video Game is meant to be a sort of sequel, with most of the original actors lending their voices (Billy Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and even William Atherton, the guy who played the EPA inspector Walter Peck in the first film). Aykroyd and Ramis went a step further and actually wrote the script for the new game, which adds another level of quality to the overall feel and flow of the adventure. The game aptly follows the adventures of a new recruit Ghostbuster (you, duh) as the team once again hits the streets of New York to defend it from all kinds of spirits both old and new. The game's story is basic and takes a too-convenient liberty or two with the material, but the top-notch writing and dialogue, coupled some great voice work and dead-on cutscenes make this less of a movie-based game copout and more what really could be considered a full-fledged Ghostbusters 3.
As far as being a totally new entry in the series, Ghostbusters could have fallen very, very short by going ALL new, but thankfully, there are enough instances in the game that mirror what happened in the films. Yeah, there are plenty of new ghosts and scenarios, but you'll also be given the chance to relive some classic moments as well. Before you ask, yes, you do get to capture Slimer in the hotel ballroom and better yet, you do get an impressive boss fight with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Not every ghost from the films made it to the game (no Scolari Brothers, I'm afraid), but it's really OK – the game manages to hit all the major points, places and enemies.
Also present are a lot of little things that prove this game was indeed placed in the hands of the right folks. From the very instant you start, you'll notice these little fan service tidbits everywhere. The Columbia Pictures logo displayed before the game's menu is noticeably washed out, mimicking the old VHS copies of the film most of us grew up with, the PS3 trophies all have names that are direct quotes from the films ("You gotta try this pole," "We have the talent," "I looked at the trap, Ray," etc.), one of the game's last bosses makes direct reference to Louis Tulley's Keymaster diatribe from the first film ("During the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!") and the tiny flourishes here and there just beg to be discovered. While I'm not sure I've seen EVERYTHING yet (I'm on my second run through), my personal favorite Easter egg is the portrait of Vigo sitting in the Ghostbusters' garage. It poses less of a threat this time – instead of being totally evil, examining the painting will cause Vigo to spew empty threats, warn of the horrors of pirating music (I'm not kidding) and even insult you personally, which is a far cry from possessing Peter McNichol, using a river of hate-producing slime and stealing Dana Barrett's baby. Sharp-eyed players will find this stuff in nearly every last corner of the game, which makes exploring almost as much fun as capturing the ghosts themselves.