Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review #1 : Ghostbusters : The Video Game (Playstation 3)

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of the Ghostbusters franchise. I saw the 1st film in our local theater when it came out in 1984, and I was a fan from then on. I loved the cartoon show and even the Filmation series that had nothing to do with the movies, (Columbia had to get the rights from them to use the name), and drank Hi-C Ecto-Cooler like it was going out of style. Ah, those were the days!

One thing I was not a fan of however, were the video game adaptations of the films. The Atari 2600 game was atrocious and the NES versions were nothing short of terrible. I never got to play Sega's take on their consoles.

Which brings us to the present. The news of a Ghostbusters game spread like wildfire. It was going to be written by none other than Dan Akroyd (Ray Stantz) and Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler) who also wrote the last two movies. The talk of a continuation of the story got fans everywhere excited. Then Activision (who originally was supposed to develop the game) backed out of the project. Atari then came along and picked the game up and devloped the game with Infernal Dreams and Sierra Entertainment.

25 years after the first movie, and 20 years after the second was the released. Ghostbusters : The Video Game has been released for all the current systems. Since I own the PS3, this review will cover that version.

I have to say, if you are a fan of the franchise, then there is no reason you shouldn't own this. It really is like you're getting the 3rd installment of the series. As I've mentioned earlier in this article, Akroyd and Ramis teamed up once again to pen the script for the game. Set in 1991, 2 years after the events of Ghostbusters 2, Ray, Egon, Winston, and, Peter (all voiced by the orginal actors Akroyd, Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Murray) are looking to expand the franchise and hire a new, nameless recruit (you) known only as "rookie". Your job is to be the guinea pig for Egon's new ghost busting gizmos. And hiring you couldn't have happened at a better time. Some strange things are going on at the Gozer exhibit at the museum and all sorts of spooks and specters are unleashed on New York City once again. Even Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz) William Atherton (Walter Peck) reprise their roles once again. Sorry, no Sigourney Weaver or Rick Moranis this time. Alyssa Milano lends her voice as Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn, the museum curator and Venkman's new love interest. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Slimer, and, the Librarian Ghost also pop up in this game

Graphics wise, the game looks great. there is a small amount of frame rate drop-especially in the library level. And the characters' mouth movements don't always sync with the dialouge at times The backgrounds are very detailed. And it's fun to see some of the nods to the other 2 films. An example of this is in the firehouse. You end up here between missions and it's cool to see all the haunted artifacts you can find with your PKE meter stored and to be able to slide down the pole. Even Vigo's painting is stored there. Wait a minute. Wasn't that painting destroyed at the end of the second movie? Hmmmm. Plus there's a variety of ghosts you encounter. Some you can trap, and some you have to flat out destroy. Destruction in this game is fun too. Especially in the Sedgewick Hotel level, where scorch marks and destructible enviroments are abound. Don't cause too much damage though, because Peck is keeping an eye on you.

The controls in the game take a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, busting ghosts has never been so much fun. You blast the spook with your proton stream until the ghosts energy level goes into the red. You then fire a capture stream to hold the ghost and drag it to your trap. You can slam the ghosts into the ground to keep them from getting away. Making sure you vent your pack to prevent overheating is also key. During the course of the game, you also gain new "weapons" from Egon like the Meson Colider, Boson Darts, Stasis Streams, and, my favorite, the green slime. With the slime you can tether it to objects to pull them towards you so you can advance in your mission or you can hook it up to a trap and then connect it to a ghost to snare it into your trap. You also use the PKE meter to search for ghosts and scan them so they can be entered in your Tobin's Spirit Guide. Doing so also reveals the ghosts weaknesses and other info. You also scan for haunted artifacts which are collected during the game and stored in the firehouse for you to look check out later.

As for the things that make this game from being perfect? One is the rather frustrating difficulty throughout the game. One level had me and Stantz trying to slime tether these flaming stone angels to these locks in a cemetary so Ecto-1 can get in. And it didn't take long for me to get taken out because the camera sometimes prevents me from seeing where they are so I can get away, resulting in attacks from behind. I get knocked out and when Stantz comes to help me out. He get's taken down as well, forcing me to start over. The A.I. isn't totally perfect. Sometimes they don't always help me out or they just stand there and will stay there until I find the area to go to so they can continue on. The voice overs from the cast are done pretty well and adds to the experience. Although Bill Murray's voice sometimes sounds like it was "phoned-in".

In my version of the game, there is a pretty damn fun multiplayer. You can play with 3 other people in 6 different instant matches. In Theft, you have to protect a ring of artifacts from ghosts who are trying to steal them. Protection has the players defending PKE posts from spooks trying to destroy them . Destruction and Containment were ok, but nothing special. I really like Survival, when you and your friends have to survive 10 rounds of waves of spirits And Slime Dunk, a competetive game where you vie to dunk and trap as many Slimers till the time runs out. You have the option of playing these games in a quick match or play a string of them in what's called a campaign. You can also choose different locations or have it come up randomly. Cash is earned as you go along and you can rank up with more money you earned. The voice support is essential when your team mates get knocked down. Sometimes you're so busy trapping ghots you don't realize that most or all of your team is down. So teamwork is essential for this part. One drawback however, is it's sometimes difficult to join a game, often resulting in error messages. I found it easier to just create a match and wait for people to join. Maybe it's because the game as only been out for a month? I really hope that Atari releases more DLC for this game. Multiplayer is what really makes this game shine.

Overall, this game is a big nod to the fans. If you loved the movies and the franchise, you will definitely enjoy this game. This title actually in a way makes you feel like a true ghostbuster and you're part of the team. In all reality, you're getting Ghostbusters 3 pretty much. The game is really fun, and the multiplayer is a blast. If the weird acting camera and random difficulty weren't sometimes frustrating. This truly would've been a perfect game. But it's not a reason for fans of the series not to own it. Busting has never felt so good.

(3.5 Slimers out of 5)