Released in 2009 Ghostbusters The Video Game reunites the cast of the two films, and was available on multiple consoles. The principal cast all return to reprise their roles and the player takes the role of a new recruit to the Ghostbusters as they battle a new group of ghosts that appear in New York.
I have watched both of the original films and found them to be very entertaining, funny, imaginative and so on. I am a big fan of Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson, and naturally I have seen all of them shine in other roles but this was the first time I had seen any of them. Together they make a hell of a team and I delighted in watching Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 so you’d imagine that I was looking forward to a game which had all of them reprising their roles and likenesses from one of my favourite films of all time.
So first things first…what is going on…?
You (the player) take the role of a fifth member of the Ghostbusters team creatively named Rookie in events which take place two years after the second film in 1991. Dr Venkman decides that none of them should learn your real name in case you meet with a quick and untimely end whilst testing their experimental new technologies. A PKE shockwave strikes the city and smashes the clear containment unit that houses Slimer who escapes the Firehouse.
The Ghostbusters must work together to track down Slimer but when they return to the Sedgewick Hotel they discover that ghost activity in on the increase and if they cannot find a way to stop it then soon the city will be overrun.
Right then, let’s put on our nostalgia glasses and praise the game for the stuff that it does well, and what it does well is the setting, the characters and the technology. The computer game versions of the main characters all look and sound perfect, the sense of humour, the colours and the music all work to make you feel like you are back within the world of the two films. It was very important for a game like this to look right and it really does, the proton packs look like they do in the movies, and when you shoot at the walls they leave damage. The original actors return and are clearly putting in effort to give the fans a good game that fits with the universe they created. It just shows how much affection they all still have for the films. This isn’t like Michael Biehn in Aliens Colonial Marines who returned to reprise his role simply to get the pay check and put in zero effort to his voice acting, no, these actors have returned because they wanted to continue the story of the Ghostbusters and give fans like me the chance to be part of that world. The soundtrack from the films also help to create the impression that we are truly a fifth Ghostbuster battling and trapping various ghosts and monsters.
The main hub area, the Firehouse, also looks like it did in the film and you have an opportunity to walk around and see some of the iconic things featured in the films. During the various missions you also find Cursed Artefacts which have their own creative stories attached to them, these appear in the Firehouse between missions, and in the case of a haunted pair of trousers, follow you around as you explore.
The game play is broken up into several missions and you get to visit the Sedgewick Hotel, The New York Central Library and you even get to tangle with the Librarian Ghost and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man plus a few new locations and ghosts that really fit in with the world of the Ghostbusters. You are also not limited to the Proton Pack as you do also have a variety of other weapons like the PKE Meter and of course the iconic ghost trap.
Enemy wise you get to fight various types of ghosts that can be trapped, and your weapons and equipment can be upgraded. For fans of the films there is a lot to like here, unfortunately, one of the biggest problems for any film is the transition from screen to console and it is here that Ghostbusters The Video Game fumbles its nostalgic advantage.
You are playing alongside the four Ghostbusters from the films, Annie Potts returns to voice Janine with William Atherton returning as Walter Peck to be a continuous thorn in the side of the Ghostbusters. Now whilst all the actors are on hand to reprise their roles you tend to only accompany two of them on missions, you don’t often get to play alongside all four Ghostbusters which is a pity. The AI is alright but the other characters do have a tendency to get incapacitated and will lie on the floor calling for help until you go over and revive them, personally I tended to get incapacitated myself whilst trying to rescue them so for latter parts of the game I just left them calling for aid whilst I dealt with the bosses. If you get too many hits they will run over and rescue you, but again more often than not they are knocked down whilst trying to get to you. Your health bar is represented by a bar on your Proton Pack, and unlike in the films you cannot fire the Pack continuously without it overheating and you needing to cool it down. This is of course done so you cannot fire all the time which would make you a bit too overpowered so in terms of the game play it works.
The missions do not tend to vary from a standard format, you go to a certain area, go off with one of the Ghostbusters, more often than not getting separated from them to scan and battle various ghosts alone before meeting up with the others later. You use your PKE Meter to scan enemies and the Spirit Guide will let you know their weaknesses. More than once you return to the same location, you visit the Sedgewick twice, and there is not enough variety in the locations you visit. Wearing nostalgia glasses is fine for a while but it does get a little bit boring visiting the same locations more than once. At one point you are chasing Slimer which is a little bit weird because Slimer seemed to have been adopted by the Ghostbusters in the second film. There is a lot of repetition here with the Proton Pack basically the main weakness of every enemy so there is not much point using anything else, which the exception of the Slime gun which you use to take on various slime based enemies.
So you get to use the Proton Pack which is good, you also get a more advanced version of the Slime Gun from Ghostbusters 2, and it is pretty easy to switch between different weapons. There are also two others but honestly I can remember their names because I almost never used them, the enemies all have the Proton Stream as their main weakness so using the other weapons was more than a little pointless. The way these new weapons are introduced is also a tad lazy and rather strange. Instead of these weapons being introduced in the Firehouse and given to you at the start of a new mission they are unlocked during missions. You are literally walking down a tunnel on one occasion and Egon and Ray say that this would be a good time to test their latest weapon and suddenly your Pack transforms into a new weapon, it would have made more sense, to me at least, to give you these new weapons at the beginning of a mission rather than have them appear mid-way through for no adequately explained reason.
However, whilst the above are really just little gripes probably the game’s biggest problem is its length. It is a pretty short game clocking in at maybe 8 hours, the replay value is pretty high though because finding the various Cursed Artefacts does give you a reason to keep playing the levels over and over. Unfortunately, even this gets a little tiresome as you scan every square inch of the levels trying to find where the developers have hidden these Artefacts.
All in all the game is entertaining and it is good fun to play around with the Proton Packs and various other equipment in the Ghostbusters’ arsenal. The voice acting is also great fun with all of the actors clearly enjoying stepping into their various roles once more. With the death of Harold Ramis in early 2014 it is a pity that we will never get to see another Ghostbusters game or if we do it will be one that doesn’t have the wonderfully eccentric Egon in it. I had fun with it and have played in several times, it is worth your time, and if you are a fan of the films then you simply must check it out.
So Ghostbusters The Video Game gets a solid Thumbs Up…it is too short yes but has enough creativity to keep you interested until the end.
7/10 – A good fun game and whilst the length is too short and a couple of the weapons are pretty pointless it is still worth a fan’s time. Check it out, be prepared for the short playtime, and you’ll have some fun role playing as the fifth Ghostbusters.