Busting makes me feel adequate

A reprint from my blog and my first blog review on Gamasutra. Having played the Ghostbusters video game on the 360 how many times did I cross the streams?
So this week I rented Ghostbusters the video game and in less then a day I managed to finish it. Going into it I was afraid that my fanboy views of the franchise would conflict with my game review side. I've been fan of the Ghostbusters since the early 90s and yes I did watch Ghostbusters Extreme. Having played the game I can say that there is no need to worry, as apparently I'm fanboy immune.

Let's face it if you are playing this game and are not a Ghostbusters fan, then there is something wrong with you. Like any game based on a property the fans are the prime audience and Ghostbusters fortunately does not disappoint. Hearing the various quips from the original cast is excellent although Ernie Hudson barely spoke. It really is a treat getting to explore the firehouse as well as the hotel and library from Ghostbusters 1. The real driving force of Ghostbusters is really getting to each cinema scene or dialogue with the gang. Sadly things aren't so good when it comes to the actual busting.

With all the time spent developing the story and dialogue, it's unfortunate that the gameplay is where Ghostbusters suffers. There are two types of ghosts in the game, those that have to be trapped and those that have to be destroyed and you'll be spending most of the time dealing with the latter. While each area for the most part has its own collection of specters you'll be facing clones of each type over and over again. To aid you, you'll have access to 4 variations of the pak each equipped with 2 weapons for a grand total of 8 weapons by the game's end. Different ghosts are weak against different weapons but you'll still be running around blasting them the same way. Moving on my biggest problems are concern with you, yes that's right you.

I don't envy the designers who had to come up with a way of having the player take part in the action. Having a mute rookie join the team and be with the gang was good but does have its cost. Basically you are a fifth wheel for the action and I never felt that I was affecting the story at all and was more a bystander. Even at the big ending you are shown doing one thing and then the credits roll. Still while the player is ancillary to the story, he is the driving force of the gameplay. All the Ghostbusters will follow the player and will basically stand aside while you must find the next step to go forward. This does unfortunately cause two problems with the design of the game.

First is the health system, since it wouldn't make sense for any of the busters to die, instead when their health hits zero the character will fall down to the ground and will have to be picked up to revive them. The same goes for the player as well and if you are knocked out one of the Ghostbusters will come help you up but this whole mechanic have some bugs to it. First is that the other Ghostbusters don't seem to care all that much when someone is knocked down other then you and will continue to do what they're doing instead of stopping and helping them up. I had to run across a huge arena to help someone up because the guy standing 3 feet away was too busy to help him up. This becomes a major issue during the tough sections of the game where the other busters will fall down constantly and you can be overwhelmed fast without back up. Boss fights are the worst as the AI doesn't understand the concept of avoiding hits and it felt that with every big attack from a boss at least 2 Ghostbusters would be knocked down from it.

The other part of this problem comes in the form of some very irritating sections in which the player must perform a task while being attacked by ghosts, the other Ghostbusters don't seem to be smart enough to perform the task themselves and it's up to you to perform the necessary action. This becomes frustrating as you'll need to stop what you are doing to help up any incapacitated busters as alone you will be a sitting duck from the ghosts. The worst part of failing a mission in Ghostbusters is the mind boggling long reload time of the mission and not even the Ghostbusters song can make up for it.

Still with the problems I had with this game I will admit that I had a lot of fun running around blasting stuff with the photon pak and it's been awhile since a writing of a game made me laugh a few times. For the Ghostbusters fans out there, this is the game for you but unfortunately the gameplay isn't developed enough to stand on its own. I'm torn about how I want the series to continue, the credits hinted at an open world title without the original cast in the same world which would be awesome. However a part of me wouldn't mind seeing a sequel with the cast again no matter how big the legal nightmare it must have been.

I give Ghostbusters the video game this little tip, always pick your own destructor form or it may come back to bite you.


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