I’ve had my eye on Ghostbusters for a while now. Ever since I found out that Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis would be involved along with Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten, in the writing and scripting of the story. This seemed like a perfect marriage of talent to me. Then when they announced Terminal Reality were the developer, which was met with a slight raised brow and a comment: oh...right...
As Hubert Farnsworth would say though, “Good news everyone, Ghostbusters isn’t a bad game at all.”Story
Set after the events of Ghostbusters II, those who are waiting eagerly for a third movie should find plenty to like in the game’s story and return to one of the much-loved franchises. Ghostbusters casts you in the role of an unnamed recruit who becomes the team’s official ‘dangerous and unproven’ technology tester. Along with Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston you are at the epicentre of a new major paranormal event that has some nice twists and turns. Through a mix of CGI cut-scenes and in-game graphics your journey with the team takes you through some pretty spectacular moments.Gameplay
There are some interesting puzzles and elements to Ghostbusters that keep the game fairly fresh. For a start you have the whole Proton Pack and upgrade system to keep you earning cash for every ghost you destroy or bag. You are also very rarely on your own and you can have one or more Ghostbusters with you to help along the way. Just like Gears of War you’re able to revive them if they go down and they can do the same for you, in fact, they’re pretty good at pulling you out of tricky situations.
It plays similarly to a third person shooter, with the typical movement and shooter controls. What sets Ghostbusters apart from the rest of the pack is the Proton Stream that behaves as it does in the movies. The Blast Stream is a highly destructive beam that wanders around and scars anything that it touches; prolonged contact will eventually destroy a lot of things in the environment and rack up a nice city-damage bill that seems to be there just for kicks.
The Capture Stream is activated by a quick press on the PS3’s shoulder-button and engages a beam that allows you to wrangle ghosts (kind of like fishing) and pick up larger obstructions, move things in the environment and solve some of the physics based puzzles later on. Everything you do with the pack builds up heat and this is shown by a red double-bar meter on the side of the pack. There is no real HUD in Ghostbusters, just the indicators on the pack that show you health, overheat and provides a visual indication of the current weapon you have equipped. From the shotgun-like Shock Blaster to the awesome Slime Gun that has a secondary function useful for attaching ghosts to traps for a quick Slime-Dunk moment, or the Meson Gun that fires a rapid burst of particles that can be tagged onto a target and follow it.
Every weapon on the pack has a secondary and primary fire and they’re pretty inventive uses.
The true joy in the game is Bustin’ ghosts. You lay down a trap and first weaken the ghost with the Blast Stream, when the ghost is sufficiently weakened the pack will auto-detect and switch to capture mode. Then you have to drag the ghost over the trap and prepare to fight with it a little. You can build up a Slam Bar and use that to stun a ghost for a more efficient capture. Once the ghost is in the trap’s cone, you must force it down and compensate as the ethereal nasty tries to escape.
There is no finer feeling than Bustin’ your first ghost. The developers have done a great job on the Proton Stream and the physics behind it. You actually feel like one of the Ghostbusters.
In addition to blasting and busting ghosts, there’s the PKE meter. This is again tagged onto your character and you can see it at all time. Green means there’s paranormal activity, red means there’s a hidden ghost and blue means there’s a cursed artefact. Every scan you perform nets you cash and this can be used to upgrade your core Ghosbuster pack and any additional weapons over the course of the game. When you switch to your PKE the game adopts a first-person perspective and lets you scan the area.
Over the course of your adventure you’re going to encounter various kinds of ghosts and enemies. Some of these are weaker to certain kinds of weapons; they take more damage from the Slime Gun for example. Scanning them will add them to your Tobin’s Spirit Guide and reveal interesting history, information and weaknesses about them. The game isn’t just about blasting and Bustin’ ghosts though, there are puzzles and maze-like environments to navigate as well as some surprises that rely on you using a particular weapon in the right way.Graphics
The graphics on Ghostbusters are good. The character likenesses are excellent, with top marks for the design of Egon, Ray and Winston. Peter Venkman’s design is the weakest of the four with your character looking like a generic tester. The in-game engine still manages to do a respectable job of creating the right kind of environments and keeping a decent frame-rate even when things get crazy insane with particle streams and other effects blasting around. The game can get really hectic and looks beautiful when you’re battling the various kinds of ghosts. It’s a visual treat to drag one of the big ghosts into a trap and the effects in that respect are spot-on to the movies.
The levels and environments are well detailed and there’s a good use of various visual effects. Atmospheric fog, diffused lighting and other tricks of the trade are employed to give each location a unique visual signature as well as heighten the right kind of mood and tension. The Ghostbusters Firehouse is an excellent example of the attention to detail and there are even a few surprises in there for you to find and interact with.
I did encounter a few frame-rate drops in a certain segment of the game and one part slowed to a crawl for a little while before it actually became a slide-show. I played the section again and determined that it was a million-to-one glitch that happened during the first play. So I am warning you about it but if you’re lucky, you won’t encounter it.