Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Jun 26, 2009

Review – Ghostbusters (Xbox 360)

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Ghostbusters was one of those games that I really wanted to like, but honestly didn’t expect much from it. After all, I’ve played some really bad games that were based on the franchise. Seriously, have you ever played the Atari game? Anyway, I was rather surprised that this game was far from bad. In fact, it’s the best games associated with a movie franchise that I’ve played in a long time.

From the moment the game loads up, you have the distinct feeling that this is the long-lost third Ghostbusters film. Only this time around you’re actually a part of the story. When I watched the opening scene and it transitioned into the Ghostbusters theme song, I’ll admit to getting chills. Not spooky chills, more like nostalgia. They even opened up with the Columbia Pictures splash.

I won’t dive into the story too much, mostly because I hate reading about too much of the plot in a review. That said, the game takes place in 1991, roughly 2 years after the second film. The team has hired a new guy to help out with the work, which is where you come in. Your character is never given a name, which is said to be so that the team doesn’t get too attached for fear of any “mishaps.” Throughout the game you are referred to as “Rookie”, and you never speak. I think this is done rather well, letting you immerse yourself more into the story.

As you start to get into the game, you quickly realize that it was definitely written by the same guys (Harold Remus and Dan Akroyd). All of the witty jokes and banter you’d expect to hear from the crew are there. Of course all four of the original actors lend their voices to their respective characters, along with Annie Potts and William Atherton who voice Janine Melnitz and Walter Peck. Hearing these voices in-character again for the first time in two decades really brings the game to life.

When it comes to graphics, I was for the most part impressed. The scenery is very diverse from level to level, and looks rather stunning on the Xbox 360. Character models were all spot-on, even if their hair looks a little like plastic at times. My largest complaint would have to be in the lip-syncing department. There were a few times where it felt like I was watching a badly-dubbed Chinese flick. Most of the time it wasn’t too bad, and didn’t really distract from the overall flow of the game.

So the game looks good and it sounds good, but how does it play? The controls are simple enough to learn. Your analog sticks control your camera and movement, the D-pad selects one of four different weapons and your triggers fire said weapons. You start out with only the classic proton beam, however as you progress, Egon hooks you up with new ones to keep things interesting.

You spend a lot of time using your PKE-Meter to find artifacts and ghosties to capture. Once you’ve found yourself a ghost to capture, you’ll switch to one of your weapons, and blast the hell out of it until it’s time to capture it (though some can just be killed off). They tend to move around pretty quickly, so aiming can get tricky, but you get the hang of it. Plus you can purchase upgrades to your proton pack that make it more of a fair fight.  Your proton stream will automatically switch to capture mode when the time is right, and you’ll use it to guide the specter into a waiting trap.

At times the ghost fights can seem a little repetitive, but they did a great job with diversifying the levels enough that it keeps things fresh and interesting. What really seems to drive the game is all of the witty banter between the characters. I honestly think that some people out there could get plenty of enjoyment just watching another person play. There’s enough plot and witty humor to keep one entertained.

I only ran into a few issues playing the game, most of which involved ghosts flying off somewhere that they didn’t belong. In one case a ghost flew through a wall, making it nearly impossible to take out. However, it would come just close enough to hit now and again, and I managed to destroy it. One particular time it brought the game to a grinding halt. A ghost that needed to be killed to progress the story line either flew off or just didn’t come out when it was supposed to. Thus I was stuck battling wave after wave of unimportant enemies while the gang kept yelling at me to concentrate on the one that wasn’t there. A quick load of the last checkpoint solved it.

Overall, I was impressed with the game. It was a bit on the short side, clocking in at around 6 hours for the full single-player experiences. The multiplayer modes were enjoyable, but not something I would spend any real amount of time tackling. There are plenty of achievements to unlock as well as a host of haunted artifacts that can be collected which add to the replayability of the game. If you’re a fan of Ghostbusters, there’s no reason you shouldn’t pick this one up.

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