Ghostbusters The Video Game Review
I had quite the battle with Ghostbusters. Unfortunately that battle took place before I ever played the game. I made the "mistake" of changing the default path in the installation program and things went to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a hurry from there. (Who organizes the game folders on their hard drive by publisher anyway? Does anyone ever think to themselves, "I feel like playing an Atari game today"?) The install program refused both to: a) finish installing the game, and b) remove its mangled corpse from my hard drive with the uninstall option. After a lot of frustrating moving of files and fiddling with registry keys, I was able to get the game to launch … or so I thought. I got as far as the DRM screen that took my key and verified it over the internet, after which the game crashed and game a nice little "stack overflow" error. I was about to give up on it at this point since it already ate my key I didn't think it would let me put the game on another computer in the office, but I decided to try and do a little more research on the problem. It appeared that I was not alone at all in my problems with the game's installation program, and after trying out several suggested solutions one of them finally worked and I was able to launch the game. However, it runs about as fast as a three-legged dog in July and I have to play it at some pretty low settings even though it is running on a speedy dual-core with 4GB of RAM and a fast graphics card. And people wonder why PC gaming is on the ropes. Anyway, enough with the problems, may they never plague you should you decide to bust some ghosts.
You play the role of an unnamed new recruit to the Ghostbusters squad, but the rest of the team consists of the original characters played in the films by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson (who provided their characters' voices in the game as well). Ghostbusters the game is set in 1991, which puts it a number of years after the events in the films which came out in the early 1980s and gives you the opportunity to bust ghosts in a whole new adventure (although you can expect to see a few familiar spectral faces along the way). The game's script was penned by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd and as such the story manages to stay true to the Ghostbusters spirit and is a cut above the usual videogame fare.
Busting ghosts is done using the traditional proton pack method. You use the pack's stream to grab on to ghosts, use it to whip them around and weaken them, and then to draw them towards the capture beam of your trap. It sounds relatively straightforward and in principal it is, but it's a bit of a drawn out process in practice. Part of this is due to the fact that the game wants you to earn each capture, sending ghosts flying and swooping all over the place, breaking free of your beam, and fighting you down to the final snap of the little doors on your trap. This is all well and good and adds to the fun, especially as you trash up the place in true Ghostbusters fashion while in pursuit of the ghoul. Unfortunately, part of the struggle also comes from the controls. It's pretty obvious that this is a console game first and a PC port second. Just keeping your fingers from getting tangled while hitting all of the keys required to chase and capture ghosts is hard enough, let alone keeping them in view and in your beam. You pretty much have to play this one with a gamepad unless you want to struggle, and even then the responsiveness feels a bit sluggish. Making matters worse, many of the environments are set in tight quarters filled with objects which can make it difficult to turn and move quickly and keep the ghosts in front of you. The console-induced frustrations also extend to the game's checkpoint save system, which spaces the checkpoints out too far apart to accommodate for the extra handicap of playing a native console game with a mouse and keyboard.
Another point of frustration comes in the form of the game's use of knock-back. Ghosts don't really kill anyone; they just knock them flat on their backs. Get knocked down a few times and you'll be stuck there until another Ghostbuster is free to revive you. Similarly, you'll need to spend some of your time looking for fallen comrades to revive. If all of the Ghostbusters involved in the current fight get stuck knocked down, the game ends and it's back to that last distant checkpoint.
There's fun to be had with Ghostbusters. I liked the imaginative environments, the running destruction tab, and finding new spooks to scan to add to your collection, as well as the game's sense of humor. I just wish that there weren't so many frustrating problems to go along with these enjoyable parts … and it would have been nice to include the multiplayer version of the game in the PC release.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%. Ghosts will be the least of your troubles.