I have to be honest, I have yet to play a Ghostbusters video game that truly captures the fun of the movies and the awesome animated series of the 80’s. The ones I have played are usually so-so at best…and train wrecks at worst. Riding on the heels of the recent rebooted film, I thought maybe, just maybe we would finally get a fun game to go along with it. Heck, even the 2009 game, which managed to actually get the original cast back together, wasn’t a complete disaster.
Turns out I was wrong, as Activision sent over a review copy of their latest Ghostbusters game that feels like it gave up the ghost somewhere in development, and is a place you don’t want to call for those looking for their busting fix.
Kicking off with decent cutscene, players are introduced to four new and nameless ghostbusters (who are apparently inspired from the ladies in the new reboot film) to go out there and bust some ghosts. It’s odd that none of the characters here are from any movie, series, or spin-off we’ve ever seen, so calling this game an actual tie-in is dubious at best.
Each character has their strengths and weaknesses with their weapon and grenades of choice, such as the lady with a shotgun that has a wide but short range, or another having a grenade that slows or stuns ghosts. Once you’ve selected a character and a ghost-filled location on the map, you’re off to go busting. Sadly this is where the game doesn’t fare so well, starting with the slow and cumbersome controls. I knew as soon as I started playing that this title was going to be bad, as your character and fellow AI-controlled teammates move slower than molasses in winter. Then to add insult to injury, they include a dodge button for you to roll out the way of danger, but since you move so slow, it’s very counter-intuitive and doesn’t help at all.
Thanks to you having to aim and move with the same analog stick, you can’t strafe while firing which makes the gameplay even more frustrating. This could’ve easily been solved by speeding things up a smidge and making this a twin-stick shooter on the lines of the recent Assault Android Cactus game. It also doesn’t help that your weapons overheat and have to be cooled down by pressing a button to purge the heat, adding another layer of annoyance. Once you’ve made your way through a level, you’ll encounter a boss that you’ll have to wear down with your weapons then switch to your proton blaster to hold them in place and slam them into the ground to wear down their secondary health bar.
Once that’s gone, you can then deploy a trap and capture the ghost. You get to rinse and repeat this for a few more levels that total to just a few hours of gameplay that doesn’t justify the $50 asking price, even with local co-op for four players thrown in.
There’s also a slight RPG element thrown in that allows you to level up and use points to upgrade your character’s speed, damage, and such. But even when you fully upgrade your character, they still feel sluggish and weak. Also the developers must have enjoyed the tiny text from the infamous Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for the Xbox 360, as the font during the intermissions will even tax those with perfect vision. The voice actors for the new team do a hit or miss job on making the characters lively and funny, but most times it misses. The graphics are cute and cartoon-like but won’t push your platform of choice to any limits, and the best things about the audio are the proton pack sound effects ripped from the movies and cartoons, along with Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic theme song.
I really wanted to enjoy Ghostbusters, but the sluggish movement and cumbersome controls along with repetitive gameplay make busting feel bad for those who play. Throw in some so-so voice acting, tiny fonts for the text, and just an overall uninspired feel makes this a title you’ll want to think twice about calling to scratch your ghostbusting itch.