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SummaryThat's a big Twinkie.
The GoodBefore I begin the review, I have to admit that I am a little biased...OK...very biased towards Ghostbusters. I have both the movies on VHS and DVD, The Real Ghostbusters on VHS and even old toys including the proton pack and Slimer that shoots out a ball of slime. Even though I am biased, it still doesn't prevent me from being objective towards this game, after all being a true fan means criticizing if you have too. That said, there are some flaws to this game but before I get into that let me start out with the positives.
To begin I love the story that the game presents and follows the two previous movies faithfully, after all the script was written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis and who knows about the Ghostbusters than the actual Ghostbusters themselves. The characters are all back (except for Dana Barrett and Louis Tulley) and even some familiar enemies like Slimer and Stay Puft, including classic locations like the hotel from the first movie and the New York Public Library. Not only does it have the original cast, but the soundtrack returns also with the classic Ghostbusters song and even the proton streams sound authentic.
The graphics are top notch during the game with the ability to destroy countless objects or leave your mark with your weapon (it's especially fun in the first hotel level when you go after Slimer and you get to tear up the banquet hall again). The pre-rendered cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous and even flawless with perfect lip synching which even during this next-gen era can be hard to find sometimes. The P.K.E. meter is also used and is an integral part of the game as you scan for hidden spirits and cursed artifacts, scanning spirits will add them to the Tobin's spirit guide which gives you a detailed account for each creature and gives you invaluable information on how to bring them down. Not only does scanning spirits and collecting artifacts add to the guide, you also get money for scanning which is very useful for upgrading your weapons.
And speaking of weapons, there are a new bevy of weapons this time around and you don't always have to rely on your proton stream. Boson Darts will be the first new weapon you can unlock which is essentially a proton shotgun in a sense, after that you get the shock blast which is essentially a more powerful version of boson darts, but you can also use a statis stream with this upgrade which effectively "freezes" spirits and creatures. The slime blower from the second movie comes back that can not only free possessed victims, but is also used to close up slime portals that can spawn smaller creatures. A slime tether is also present that is essentially used mainly for the puzzle elements of the game such as moving items around, but can also used to tether ghosts together or slow them down if you start to get overwhelmed. Finally, there is the Meson Collider which acts as a bazooka and is the most powerful weapon in the game, but there is also a neat little feature to this. When you fire your primary fire version, it will effectively mark the spirit it touches and you can use the secondary fire as a homing missile of sorts to find its target even if it is hidden out of sight. Oh and of course the classic ghost traps are present (which can also be upgradable as well) essential to catch spirits throughout the game which never gets boring, kinda like fishing except with ghosts and concentrated nuclear energy.
The game also has a nostalgic feel to it including characters, locales and the such but you can also explore the firehouse in between levels which looks like the real thing including the pole you can ride down, the Ecto-1 and even the containment unit (which looks like the Real Ghostbusters version now). There are even items from the previous movies including the dancing toaster from the second movie and the painting of Vigo (which I will get to in a little bit). This game overloads you with the nostalgic factor and non-fans or casual fans may not get some of the dialogue or tidbits scattered throughout the game, but for long time fans they will love it.
One nice feature that I love is the countless checkpoints that you can access through the "replay mission" option in the career menu. This is very helpful especially if you miss out on certain cursed artifacts or didn't scan a ghost completely, you can just simply go to the checkpoint menu, pick the certain area you want to and TADA you start at that certain part of the stage without having to go through the whole level over again.
One last thing I have to say about this game is that it can be a bit freaky and spooky at times. Now when you think of Ghostbusters you think of comedy, but this game constantly gave me the heebie geebies in the later levels. When it first starts out it's not that scary at all, but once you get to the library the creepy factor ups to about 9 especially when you get farther down into the bowels of the building. In one instance I was with Ray and walking down a hall as I turned a corner and noticed a stuffed bear sitting in the floor that lifted up and floated into another room with the laughter of a little kid in tow. When I first saw this I was a little freaked, my first thought being "Oh come on game, don't do this" and lo and behold as I walked into the room, it is a dark and creepy children's library covered in black slime with the anguish crying of countless little kids echoing in my speaker. Needless to say I wasn't long turning the game off, even I have to admit that is a little much and it gets worse in later levels especially in a graveyard where you have to go it alone for a little bit. There is also a scary moment I had in the return to the hotel later in the game as it is dark inside and while I was scanning around with the P.K.E. meter I turned only to have a dark shadow staring right back. I just about had a stroke and it didn't help that the music at the moment had the dramatic twinge to it. Plus in the dark areas that you can view it through the goggles when you equip the P.K.E. and you get this eerie night vision-like glow, until you switch back to the third-person view and all you have to see is the flashlight attacked to your suit, giving it this vibe of Silent Hill. Hell, I've played my share of horror games and they didn't freak me out, but I have to admit, this is the first game I've ever played that really gave me the shivers and that is saying something.
The BadWell, there are some flaws to this game, some minor but also major, that really do hurt the overall gameplay at times. While I do like the pre-rendered cutscenes, the in-game cutscenes using the game engine suck horribly. The graphics are a little pixelated at times and the lip synching is far off, almost reminding me of the old Godzilla movies back in the day and even times where I think there was supposed to be some speech, but someone forgot to record it. And I do love the acting, especially Akroyd and Hudson who doesn't miss a beat and get right into character. Harold Ramis is a different story, but it can't be helped, the problem I have with his voicing is that it doesn't have the deep baratone sound to it anymore, but considering it has been almost 20 years since the last movie, old age has affected him so it really doesn't bother me that much. The one that does though is Bill Murray, he just doesn't seem like he is into it kinda like he showed up and wanted to get finished so he could get paid and leave. There is no energy to his acting and seems very laxed, very un-Venkman like, almost at times sound more like Garfield than Peter Venkman. It's sad that he phoned it in for this considering that he was one of the reasons I wanted to play the game, thankfully however the rest of the game more than makes up for it.
The A.I. can be a bit idiotic at times, getting in your way and yelling at you to stop shooting them even though it is their stupidity that they stepped in the line of fire. Once I even had Ray get his streams crossed with mine while trying to catch a ghost, the problem is I was standing completely still and he is the one that initiated it and he basically blamed me for it. It gets annoying at times, but nothing that can't be overcome. There is also no offline co-op which is a huge flaw considering this game would have been perfect for five friends, they could have at least had a two player co-op but there is nothing at all which is sad considering they let something potentially fun slip right through.
There is no saving icon that indicates when it is safe to stop playing a certain time during a level, half the time I'm afraid to quit and wait until I get to the firehouse before I quit. It's very annoying, you think something like that it would have been a basic feature. Vigo also makes an appearance in this game, but for all the wrong reasons. I was hoping he would be involved in the story, but he is relegated to being trapped in his painting sitting in the firehouse where you can interact with him and have him taunt you. There is two problems with this, one is that it doesn't have the original Vigo voice and two is that technically he shouldn't be back since he was destroyed and the painting was turned into the portrait of the Ghostbusters at the end of the second film. It didn't catch on at first, but when I realized it I was a bit perturbed. Another thing that really pissed me off is that there is two arcade machines on the second floor of the firehouse, one of which looks like a generic Galaga and the other actually being Q*bert. When I saw it I was excited and hit the interact button, hoping to play a few rounds of Q*bert and it turns out that the "rookie" character plays with it a few seconds and stops, never leaving the main screen. What a gip! At least Atari could have put that in, it's almost like they are messing with people.
The game is also glitchy at times and not the funny glitches like you seen in GTA, more like game stopping and file erasing glitches. I have heard of people experiencing freezing issues at certain points of the game, but it only seems like it is on certain systems. Luckily I haven't experienced that, but I have noticed a bit of lag at times, but nothing concerning, however I have lost my save file and had to restart the game. It is unclear as of now what causes these file erases and it seems like the majority players have had this issue at one point in time, but some think it could be a glitch with the multiplayer option. And speaking of multiplayer, it is especially glitchy. The server has crashed at times, causing me to loose hard earned points and money and not getting credit for any of it and there is a weird error that informs the player of "wrong map". It seems that the North American and European market share the same servers, but each has there own variations of maps that keeps one from interacting with other countries host. They could have at least have something that could inform people of which host is from instead of wasting time in waiting for a full room only to be kicked out because of a regional issue.
Finally, there is one major flaw to this game, the lack of any customization of the "rookie" in this game. When I first heard that you could be the fifth Ghostbuster, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Excited I was ready to put my name on the suit and try to get the guy to look as close as I could, only to find out that you can't customize him in any way shape or form. This is a huge letdown and what gets me they could have had some semblance of a character creator, I mean after all the game never names the guy and he never speaks. I could have dealt with that, but what is the point of having a nameless and mute character that they call rook, scooter, youngblood, etc. if you can personalize him. To me this was a major letdown and actually had me rethinking of whether it was a good idea or not to have bought the game. Thankfully, the game made up for it, but not my much, hopefully if there is another sequel later on that Atari and Terminal Reality will learn this lesson and implement it.