Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Post-Launch Review
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PC)
Developer: Terminal Reality
Released: June 2009
Played: complete in 7h42m


Original Ghostbusters actors Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles in a new story set in the 1991, two years after the events of Ghostbusters II. The Ghostbusters are successful contractors for the City of New York - successful enough to be hiring. You're the new recruit brought on just in time for a major new paranormal event with ties to old foes Gozer and occultist architect Ivo Shandor. 

At Launch

Ghostbusters earned positive reviews with scores averaging 80%. The game was praised for feeling exactly like the movies due to the returning actors and perfect tone. Reviewers enjoyed the ghost-trapping gameplay but most felt that it got repetitive and had a few troublesome spots. Critics noted worse visuals in the PS3 version and the PC version's DRM frustration and lack of multiplayer and graphics options.

Post Launch

The PS3 version received an update to match its visuals to the XBox360, as well as some fixes to broken achievements for both console versions.

Technical note before we get started: the PC version doesn't have antialiasing and I thought all the jagged lines looked awful. I forced AA through my graphics card and the result was great, as it appears in my screenshots below. I've read that the PC version suffered from crash and frame rate problems near launch and I don't see evidence of a patch, but I didn't run into any issues save for two short FPS slowdowns in the entire 7.7 hours.

Ghostbusters creator/actor Dan Aykroyd called the game "essentially the third movie", and well, he's right! With the original writers and actors back, this really does feel like the movies. The tone and the characters feel just like the films, with that deadpan working-class attitude where everyone's mostly just trying to get through the day. The frequent quips, sarcastic comments, and asides feel natural and in character.

The story also ties in well to the films with returning characters and plot points adding to the movie atmosphere. The callbacks and explanations make everything work - fighting Stay-Puft Gozer again, and he's weaker than in the movie? There's a good reason for that, and the result of the battle is a character motivator. Evil architect is back? Well yeah, it makes perfect sense for an architect to have designed more than one building and to have built his evil ghost stuff into others.

My only criticism from a writing standpoint is that the game often seems to forget about the rookie (player character). He's mysteriously absent from a lot of cutscenes, never speaks a word, and doesn't add anything to the story that couldn't have been done with just the original four Ghostbusters. That said, I did love the idea that the rookie is the one to try out all the new, untested, potentially super dangerous technology. Great way to explain both the new tech and why the new guy is the first one to get it.

The visuals are on point, with surprisingly great, accurate face models for all  the returning characters. The prerendered cutscenes mostly still look good, but they often feel fuzzy compared to gameplay at high settings. They do have better character animation than in-engine, though - facial movement and lip sync aren't fantastic outside of cutscenes. 

The gameplay centers around using your proton pack's expanding arsenal to capture ghosts. This is where the visuals shine brightest: the basic beam looks and behaves just like it does in the movies, and the dazzling array of colours and effects across the different weapons add tons of life and pop - especially when multiple Ghostbusters are firing at a dozen different ghosts. The capture gameplay is a lot of fun, with different ghosts requiring different beams and tactics, and the game does a great job of mixing things up and together towards the end. At points it does feel a little stale as there is literally no other form of gameplay and almost every room has multiple ghosts, but it picks back up towards the end when things get really crazy.

I actually feel like I don't have too much else to say about this game - usually I can go on and on. I'll just finish up by saying I'm very happy with Ghostbusters: while it has a couple of minor flaws, it's a fun, good-looking game that faithfully recreates the tone and style of the movies to provide the third part of a trilogy while providing unique gameplay and visuals.

Recommendation: play it.

No comments:

Post a Comment