So I was pleasantly surprised by the Ghostbusters reboot that arrived last week, after the Internet had been dreading it for, well, forever. That leaves an interesting question then – would the video game from Activision pretty much do the same thing?
I mean, I saw the game and it definitely appeared to be a step up from whatever went wrong with the Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime game that came out a few years ago, with a new development team – Fireforge – and better development dollars being poured into the project. Alas, like Ghostbusters II (the film), this project just misses the mark, and we’re left longing for a much better game. You know, like the 2009 Ghostbusters release.
The game we’re talking about here isn’t necessarily bad. Some have dubbed this “the worst Ghostbusters ever” (looking at you, Polygon) and I can safely confirm that the original NES game still holds that dishonor. However, that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything good here either – Ghostbusters is just kinda…there. It’s like it’s winding up the pitch, but never follows through.
There are four completely new characters here – no one from any of the films, just no-name characters filling the void – each with special weapons and grenades they bring to the picture. Some are inspired by the new film, like the proton shotgun and a mini-gun, but, really, the performance is about the same. You shoot at enemies around a section, reload, shoot some more and then move on to the next section.
There are sub-weapons you can use, like the proton pack to capture certain ghosts and a tap-tap game with the trap to make sure they’re taken care of for good. At first, it’s great seeing these old-school weapons in play, but they’re useless when it comes to regular ghosts, meaning you have to result to your typical firearms. What’s worse, you pretty much repeat the same exercise over and over again, with barely any new strategies (outside of the “slam” technique introduced in the 2009 Ghostbusters game – it was done better there).
So, it’s just dull. The levels drone on way too long; the bosses that you’ll encounter in the game are unimaginative and don’t really offer the kind of variety you expect from even the likes of Stay-Puft; and the secrets aren’t worth discovering, no matter how many times you use the scanner. It just drones on and on, with no real growth with the characters. Even Smash TV – a game that’s well over two decades old – had more variety than this title had to offer. That’s just insane.
Fireforge does try to liven up the proceedings with an all-ages friendly presentation, but there’s very little to it. The levels don’t really offer much savvy in terms of design, and the average Ghostbusters included here can’t even come close to measuring up to either the males from the ’84 version or the women from the reboot. What’s more, they won’t shut up – they talk repeatedly and make a bunch of abysmal ghost puns that wear out their welcome within a matter of minutes. I understand pointing out stuff from the films, but some of these jokes are flatter than the script for Ghostbusters II. (No, really – I wasn’t a fan.)
At least Ray Parker Jr.’s theme is here, so there’s that; and the controls are responsive for a twin-stick shooter. Plus, the four player action does get fun, although it’s pretty much offline only. That’s okay, as I can’t see too big a community for this title anyway – unless they’re simply hanging out in the forums to pass around insults. And this time, they’re deserved.
A lot more could’ve been done with this current Ghostbusters game to make it match the quality of Atari’s excellent 2009 release. Including actual characters from the films to team together, maybe. Getting voice casting that actually makes a difference instead of saying the same crappy jokes over and over. Even making a contest out of the battle between the two groups to settle the “Ghostbusters argument” once and for all. Alas, we’re not that lucky. The game was lazily made, and it shows.
Again, it’s not horrendous like the NES effort, and it’s a little more capable than Sanctum of Slime. But this Ghostbusters lacks any sort of charm or, worse yet, any reason to see it through to the end. Plus, its $50 price tag is a real turn-off – especially when the 2009 Ghostbusters game can be yours for a fraction of the price. There’s no reason to be afraid of this ghost – just leave it be and it’ll fade.