Much like with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was a pretty big fan of the Ghostbusters cartoon that was based off the movies once upon a time. I also had a few of the toys as well, namely the Ghostbusters’ car, a plush Marshmallow Man that glowed in the dark (awesome!), and even my own proton pack and gun. And also much like with the game I last reviewed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, I now got the chance to try out the recent Ghostbusters game and decided to try my hand with another game based off a childhood franchise of mine, and hopefully I’d actually enjoy this one. Well, it seems history has repeated itself again, for I was left playing a game that was outrageously underwhelming.
Apparently, this game is a tie-in sequel to the recent movie of the same name (which I have no intention of watching until after it’s available on Netflix and when I have nothing else to watch) and puts you in control of four new Ghostbusters who are filling in for the all-female crew featured in the movie. These four new Ghostbusters appear to lack names (a couple of their names may have been revealed in the opening cutscene, but if that’s so, I can’t remember them), but they do at least have their own weapons and abilities that help differentiate them from each other. The blonde dude has a proton rifle and flash grenades, the big dude has a proton minigun and slime grenades, the African-American woman has a proton shotgun and shock grenades, and the blonde woman has twin proton pistols and dark matter grenades.
Each of the characters’ abilities can be upgraded using “ecto points” you get for defeating and trapping ghosts, and using a scanner to find runes hidden throughout the levels offers more points. These upgrades include increasing weapon damage, lowering the rate at which the proton weapons overheat after repeated use, movement speed, overall health, etc. The game plays well enough, and the controls are fine. Trapping stronger ghost enemies requires switching to the classic beam-based proton wand and using it to hold the ghosts in place and weaken them until they get sucked into one of those traps, which was actually kind of fun…at least the first few times.
There were a couple of instances of slowdown when many enemies filled the screen, but for the most part the game runs fine. I do also kind of like the focus on team-based gameplay; I was stuck playing with AI partners, but they actually held their own, for the most part. Oh, and I liked how the game featured the classic Ghostbusters theme. Well, that’s pretty much it for the game’s positive side. Everything else about the game works against it.
Ghostbusters has basically no story to speak of. There’s an opening cutscene with the Ghostbusters interacting with each other and making lame jokes masquerading as clever jokes, then they get a call to take care of a ghost problem somewhere. Then, in the final cutscene that plays after the main bad guy gets defeated, the Ghostbusters are happy that they won (something tells me no one will care about this “spoiler”). And…that’s it. Aside from other phone conversations the Ghostbusters have between missions when they get more ghost hunting jobs, there are no other cutscenes and no characterization for the Ghostbusters. There’s hardly even a plot. And it was rather annoying how often these Ghostbusters would refer to the other Ghostbusters from the movie, as if we needed further reminders this game is slightly connected to the film.
With the exception of the final level, all the levels in this game play out almost exactly the same. Go through linear corridors, find hidden runes, shoot ghosts, and trap tougher ghosts after battling them. The boss battles do get slightly more challenging as the game progresses, but even these battles play out almost exactly the same. Ghostbusters is also kind of on the easy side. For perhaps the first time in my gaming life, I didn’t die in this game, not even once (though I did have a couple of close calls), and something tells me that wasn’t because I have “mad skillz”. I had already dealt with most of the different ghost enemies before reaching the game’s halfway point, so things got boring rather early. One other feature that I was surprised to find missing from this game was the option to switch between different Ghostbusters on the fly. Whichever Ghostbuster you choose to play as before a level starts, that’s the Ghostbuster you’re stuck with for the entire level. The fact most of these repetitive levels run on the long side is also unfortunate. I simply can’t recommend this game, not even to die-hard Ghostbusters fans, unless they find it in the “less than $10 bargain bin”. I doubt even playing this game with friends would make it worth playing through more than once.
Developer: FireForge Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 12th July 2016