The new Ghostbusters game has some serious problems. Confusing saves, a mediocre rehash of a story, and a bizarre team AI mechanic. The PS3 release has a few issues specific to that version. But it gets a couple things so nicely right that I can't slag it completely. I may write up a formal review for Aeropause, but until then, here's some quick blasts that will probably keep you from paying full price. Happily, the game supports the XMB screenshot feature... so here we go.
The firehouse is great. It is bigger than necessary (you never really DO anything at the firehouse), which makes it one of the parts of the game where you can tell the developers took the time for some great thematic detailing.
There's a Q-Bert machine... but unfortunately it is unplayable. Would have been a nice gimme to actually include the ROM, but Q-Bert is one of those arcade classics that both Sony and Microsoft have on sale, so it's obvious why Ghostbusters would not be allowed to hand it out for free.
The facial animation is fantastic. There is a great deal of effort put into having the characters act like the real-life actors. Like Bill Murray's raised eyebrow there. This and the voice acting MAKE the game. It is great hearing these actors get back into these characters. I've always been a big Dan Aykroyd fan, so I love getting to hang with him again. It's been too long.
The only rough spot in the voice work is that Murray has a few too many lines that he tries to deliver in a hushed, confidential tone... and that just doesn't work as presented. Instead of seeming conspiratorial - the way it would be shot and edited in a real movie - it sounds like he wasn't quite in the right voice booth. That aside, after all these recent years of Bill Murray very purposefully not taking on smartass roles like his work in Stripes and Ghostbusters, it is a joy to hear him slip back into that cocky delivery.
But here's a problem. The game wants to rest on the laurels of the first movie way too much. Slimer escapes and goes right back to that hotel. You're back in the library after that old woman, and the card catalog freaks out as you walk by. The Stay Puft Marshmellow Man stomps through NYC again. It is lazy pandering and any efforts to explain WHY this all seems so familiar comes too late in the game and is way too convenient and simplistic.
If they wanted to revisit the classic beats of the movie, why not just do an adaptation, instead of pretending this is something new.
Which brings up another point of contention: the hype train keeps calling this Ghostbusters 3. It is not. There are still plans for a third Ghostbusters movie and when that comes out, THAT will be Ghostbusters 3. This game's continuity will be ignored in any future feature films (and that's probably a fine thing since nothing particularly new or inventive occurs during the game). And even though the game states "written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis", in a ToyFare interview Ramis himself reveals that the script was written by the game developers and they were only asked in to help polish it up.
I also have a problem with the game's signature macguffin that you are a nameless new recruit who has been hired to test out Egon's new experimental ghostbusting equipment... and then it turns out that the other guys all have the same equipment anyway.
The first time I played the level from that left screenshot, the tanker truck you see there was invisible. You just saw the stream of gas flowing out of nowhere. That's the only random vanishing I saw throughout the game, but still, that's a pretty obvious and obnoxious bug. At the time, I did not know about the game supporting screenshotting, so I did not snap a pic of it.
Occasionally, your AI teammates will go do something stupid while they wait for you to flush out baddies or trigger scripted events. On the right, Ray was mindlessly sliming a lamp post and I think he would have been happy to do that forever.
In one of the game's all-new sections, you have to investigate a haunted museum, which contained ghosts from the Civil War and ancient Egypt. The museum display cases repeated like crazy, but the few elements in them were done well. In Egypt, they had canopic jars, which I thought was a nice touch.
This game brought to you by Doritos. Everywhere.
Alyssa Milano is the voice of the game's female lead. It would have been nice if they could have used her likeness as well, instead of the average-looking female CG model they went with.
On the right is an example of one of the game's biggest problems: the stupid team resurrection mechanic. If one of the 'Busters goes down, you can go over and bring him back to life via kneeling. (If you don't, eventually he'll pop back up on his own.) When you die, you're expected to wait for one of them to wander over and bring you back to life.
But when you're all in the middle of a huge ghost firefight in a large arena, the odds are far greater that the other guys will just die, thus ending the level. And just to make sure things are really frustrating, you can't pan the camera around to see if anybody is getting close to you. You're locked into that downward view, waiting for an AI dude to find you. Although I sort of dig the team-building vibe here, it is beyond stupid to be stuck looking at your near-dead body and reliant on some knucklehead computer characters. Drop the faux resurrection and just give me a longer life bar.
But hey, here's that famed library bug (which is, I believe, EXCLUSIVE to the PS3 version). What happens is you and the team enter the lower levels of the library... which should be very familiar if you've seen the first movie.
Once you get a few steps in, the ghost effects take over. What is supposed to happen is you see the books and paper flying around and the bookcases slamming into each other.
What happens instead is that the game's visuals slow down to a freeze, and there's nothing you can do. You can't even hit the PS button to quit. But the audio is still playing, so if you hang out and try to walk forward (even though you can't see yourself move), the game will snap back before too long.
It may also help to point the camera at the ceiling as you walk into this scene, so the game doesn't have to render the apparently difficult animation of sliding bookcases.
There's no excuse for a game shipping with this kind of massive bug in it. (In level three!) Between the library glitch, the stupid healing thing, and a seriously useless save feature (You get one save slot. ONE. And even though you can replay earlier missions, you do not get to maintain your earned weaponry level.), there's no way this game is worth $60. No way.