It is hard to believe that 25 years have passed since that summer day when I first watched “Ghostbusters”. The clever mix of comedy and adventure and a stellar cast made the film a pop culture phenomenon that has endured as a classic, despite the misstep of the sequel which failed to capture the magic of the original. While the second film may not have been the hit the first one was, it was still a success and fans have waited years and endured countless rumors of the next outing of the group. A few years back reports arose that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had crafted a two part story that would serve as the third and fourth chapters of the series. Sadly this did not come to pass as rumors suggested that Bill Murray was reluctant to don the jumpsuit and proton pack once again.
A few years back, rumors surfaced that an animated film was in the works, which soon became news that a new film was in the works that would feature the original cast training the next generation of Ghostbusters, many of whom are rumored to be female.
With the film scheduled for 2012 Atari has given fans a treat to tide them over with the release of Ghostbusters the Video Game. The game is set two years after the second film and features the voices of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Alyssa Milano, and Brian Doyle Murray.
Players are cast as a new recruit who is along to help the guys and test new equipment. No sooner do you show up for work, when a large supernatural event occurs and plunges New York City into chaos as random specters are menacing the town.
In various chapters, players go to locales such as a swanky hotel, an office complex, the Ghostbusters Office, a library, a museum, and some truly bizarre locales to battle a never ending range of ectoplasmic menaces.
Thankfully you are up to the task thanks to your proton pack, slime gun, and other features, which get upgraded as the game goes along. I will not spoil anything but I have to say, when I was able to snare my first ghost and trap him, I had a real sense of accomplishment. Keeping proton streams from crossing as well as locking on a bad guy is tricky as they do not stand still, and they are not above sliming you or sending all manner of objects in your path. In time, you will learn what works best for you and your style of play. The same is true for the controls as while their are a few options that are done in a practical way that allows players to use the items and tactics that work best for them. Aside from some camera angle issues in a heated fight, the controls worked well with the gameplay.
The chapters of the game are good and even the auto save was not as cumbersome as some of those checkpoint systems that are so common. The game also has several trophies for doing various tasks and players will delight and several appearances from classic characters from the films.
My only real issue with the game was that at times it became a bit repetitious to constantly run through an environment looking for a ghost, then to chase the ghost, battle the ghost and his minions, and the inevitable boss battle. When in a prolonged combat sequence, the dialogue tends to loop as I heard Aykroyd say “They will feel that in Pittsburgh”, many times.
That being said, the graphics are solid and the audio quality of the game really shines. I loved the casual destruction I could cause while protecting the public, and I chucked when the on screen counter tracked the cost of my destruction.
Players do not die in the game, but rather become immobilized and require a hand up from another Ghostbuster. If nobody is available, players simply start from the previous save point, which thanks to the great save feature, does not require gamers to replay large portions of the level.
The game offers a multiplay mode which allows you to work with other Ghostbusters online and offers gamers a choice to select their skill level.
The layout and design of the maps is clever and players are free to wander and explore, which often allows you to locate a number of bonus items.
It was great to hear the classic cast in the film, and there were some clever nods to other cast members. The jokes and lines fly fast and the timing of the cast has never been better. Ramis and Aykroyd wrote the story for the game, and it is clear that they put a lot of attention into making this a truly interactive Ghostbusters experience. I could not put the game down the first time I played it, and loved the opening which has the classic Columbia logo and plays out like the opening of a film.
Take it from me, despite some flaws, this is a fun game and is the game that fans everywhere have been hoping for, let’s just hope the movie can deliver as well.
4 stars out of 5.