Case: 006 Paranormal peers provoke polished plot to please the most pertinacious of proponents- (Ghostbusters the Video Game-PC 2009)

 

Let it never be said that I believe in spooks. ‘Cause I don’t. For every chain rattle and spooky sound, every thump or bump in the night there’s someone looking to make a quick turnaround. In my business, plenty of grieving widows or widowers have been taken by so called mediums ( Hucksters and charlatans of the highest order kid, don’t let the fancy title fool ya.) I’ve seen a lot in the cycles I’ve been here, real “ Ghosts” in this machine but, in the end? It’s all a scam, a big con.

So, when I came across this gem of a title? I had to re-evaluate my position. Not because I became a believer mind you, just because sometimes you wish there was something out there.  Now, browse over that file and make up your own mind.

 

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So, Ghostbusters The Video game.

Yeah. How many times have I seen that title and wanted to punch myself in the face? Too many that’s for damn sure.  The ubiquitous title came out in 1984, written by the comedic team of Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The movie became a cult hit and positively received world wide. The film launched the Ghostbusters franchise, which includes the 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II; two animated television series, The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters; both of which have some Great episodes! As well as several video games.

Now here’s where my review gets dicey. Several video games you say?  Yes, several. Are they good? Well…lets just say I’ve played most of the old games and this is the ONLY one I’d recommend.  Mostly because the story was written by Ramis and Aykroyd , and is chock full of references to both movies. The pacing is great too In fact, both Megabyte and I often refer to this as the “unofficial” third movie.

The Story starts as you become a “ new recruit” in the Office. Helping you get acquainted with your duties are the ever present Dr. Venkman, Dr. Stanz and Dr. Spengler. You are then taken on a whirlwind tour of the facility and become familiar with your gear.

 

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As you start to chase the team mascot “Slimer” You are unwittingly thrown into a bigger problem when the team detects a “Significant necromantic convulsion” ( That’s level 7 by the way.)  and thus hurls you in to the main story. You are then taken through various locations from the movies,The Sedgewick Hotel, The New York Public library and many others.

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As the story unfolds you are informed that Ivo Shandor, (The architect/madman that constructed the apartment building in the first movie with the intent to summon Gozer the Destroyer.) Also built a network of channels under the city to act as a sort of summoning circle using the same slime that was used to summon Viggo the Carpathian. This time Ivo’s plan was to merge the dimensions of the ghosts with that of the Human dimension and bring forth another destructor. So after all this who are you gonna call? Yep. You know it.

Is it a little cheesy? Sure. does it play out like a movies from the 80’s? Yeah! but come on, the story is really very well done. It’s got the great comedic pacing of the original film and is just perfect.I hate to give away anymore of the plot. Suffice to say I loved the game for this and it is well worth it if you are a fan of the franchise.

Story:  10/10

Man, what can I say? The lighting effects are just on point. From the glow of the readouts to the cinders of burn trail left by tracing your particle beam across the walls is just top notch. The over all feel of the visuals ties in nicely and in places such as the ghost world are powerful and detailed.

 

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Yet, I did have some issues with clipping and strange rendering glitches they were VERY rare and did not detract from the overall experience. Each level plays to the strengths of the design and shows an eye for detail. Take the Hotel level, when it fuses with the Fisherman’s influence, the whole place takes on a deep sea feel complete with coral and sea fans, retracting tube worms, barnacles and the like. The level takes on the blueish-green hues that we associate with the ocean. While a lot of care was taken I felt that some levels lacked that visual punch. Mostly transition levels that felt like they slowed the visual pace. Overall all it was great to see the textures and objects reflective of the levels themes keep their consistency.

While the cut scenes were great,  the facial animations are a little off sometimes and it looks strange when paired with the dialogue. While it doesn’t upset everything I mention it because it’s a major part of the game that can be a little jarring.


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Visuals: 7/10

Now, here comes the part that is tough. While I love the controls, the camera sometimes gets a bit wonky. That being said it only happened rarely to me but, it does happen.

The act of capturing a ghost is just fantastic. it just feels right. Hearing that familiar charge sound followed by the stream of positrons? Nice. Now. I’m not sure what part the engine they used to make the streams bend, but that was genius. It feels like you are really wrangling something not happy at the end of a rope. The process is a to capture is a good one. Hovering your targeting reticle over the ghost shows a green set of bars. While you pour on the streams the green bar drops when it turns red, you have the option to capture the ghost. You can use a control to manually select a capture stream or the game will automatically do it for you. Once captured the wrangling begins. You begin to charge a “Slam” meter, this is important as the ghost will regain strength over time. You can charge the meter faster by wrangling the ghost. Pulling it in the opposite direction that it is headed. Using the left Mouse button, you can then slam the ghost into walls or other objects to stun it. Pressing F will throw a trap the you then maneuver the ghost into, Once again you must keep the ghost within the trap’s energy cone until it’s pulled in.

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Let me tell you, that that process is fun as hell.  It’s frantic and chaotic when you have all four Ghostbuster seniors running about with streams in various directions. For each ghost you capture you earn a set amount of money. That money you can use to upgrade your equipment with a variety of items. Want to have more control of your stream? Invest in the Blast Stream Focusing. Want more damage on firing Boson darts? Heat reduction for all your gadgets? As long as you have money bam! you can upgrade. Everything from weapons to faster and more effective traps to extras for your PKE meter.

Not only that but the game has a great mechanic for your displays. All the displays for things like health, power and heat. Yes, heat is an issue. You need to occasionally vent your pack or it will overheat, rendering you unable to preform actions until the auto-vent is finished.

In this game there is no hud to clutter up any of the games visual aesthetics, all the information about your character is actually integrated into the design of the proton pack! Yep, since this is a third person view if you’re gonna be staring at it the whole game might as well use it as a visual aid right?  In the image below we see how the pack is set up. When you have access to the slime thrower there is a plunger that activates from your pack showing how much slime you have actively pressurized (A).  The green bar represents your health while the red bar is your packs heat (B) . And you can quickly scan your PKE meter from your belt to see any paranormal spikes or potential collectibles (C)

 

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Okay. With all this high praise I hear you say “ With all this game has to offer, this has to be amazing! This has GOT to to be the best game you’ve played!”   Now the worst part of this game. Admittedly this is probably just me but, there is a single area in Central park that REALLY hurts this games playability. Now, for the most part this game has been overall a great experience but, this? This area? It is the most RAGE INDUCING AREA of this whole game.


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See this door? It won’t open. No gate controls and no amount of blasting will do it. “Well, how are you supposed to get it open then? “ I hear you, I do and I have the answer. In fact the game will go to great lengths to REMIND you how.

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There are a dozen of these flying stone Cherubs that appear. the goal is to Slime tether these lil’ bastards and slam them into the gate.  Sounds easy right? It would be if they didn’t dive bomb you and knock you to the ground, oh did I mention that while you’re aiming up at them there are waves of small headstone creatures that are knocking you over as well?  Yeah. This is just a mess, and the camera which up until this point has not been a huge problem; suddenly is your worst enemy.

Overall the game felt great but, this section is a trial of frustration. I played this in EVERY difficulty setting and no matter what, it’s just crazy hard. The timing has to be spot on and often its a tiny window of opportunity. The knockdowns can at times, just chain together making it the section most people will probably toss up their hands and scream obscenities at the screen. ( I know I did, no shame there.) And that is why the rating for this is as low as it is,  DISPITE how much I’ve said that the rest of the game is great. This section hurt it that badly.  

Gameplay: 6 /10

So, with all this can a clich├ęd 80’s movie tie-in game make it in 2016?
I can only say from my perspective, yes,
This game truly captures the feeling of the movies, and this is a huge accomplishment. the witty banter between all the major actors is rife with memories of both the movies and the cartoon. This is what a good sequel is, the very model of creating off shoots and even re-boots of series. This game has it all for fans of this movie.

In conclusion this is a great game of a great franchise that had us fans desperately wanting another adventure. It is the rare kind of synergy that can happen with a movie tie-in game. These are too far and very few in my opinion. Films today have almost a game like feel to them with all the CGI and wire work and all sorts of effects. So why is it they we can not have a movie game that’s as good as this one? This is the true diamond in the rough for this genre of game and it deserves the praise I have laid before it. Yes, I am a fan of the franchise but, I have seen what was churned out as “Games” under these titles and as far as I’m concerned this game is the only one I highly recommend you play to completion. It was a great game, a great story and serves well as an “Unoffical” third movie.

Over all I rate this game a spectacular 9 out of 10, Now go out there and bust some ghosts!  

2 comments:

  1. This IS Ghostbusters 3 as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a Ghostbusters fan, but I can see how this really caters to the people who loved the movies. This game > Ghostbusters (2016).

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    1. Both Max and I would agree on all counts... we have our trilogy of Ghostbusters already thanks to this title.

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