This was a hard review for me, because I really wanted to love this game. I really, really did. But instead, I merely liked it. And now that I have finished it, I honestly have no desire to ever play it again.
(Editor's note: We were unable to test the multiplayer component of this game. This is a single-player only review.)
I am not saying that this is a bad game. It is just not as good as a Ghostbusters fan would hope for.
What makes it worse is that you can see the potential for greatness in this game - potential that is unrealised. This leaves me with a sad feeling of disappointment.
What won't disappoint is the feel from the movies. There is no doubt that you are playing a Ghostbusters game; I must admit I was giggling for the first fifteen minutes. All the characters are there and are voiced by their original actors. For the most part this is great, except Bill Murray sounds like he has forgotten who his character was, and is simply doing his best impression of himself as Peter. But the story is written by the original writers of the movies and is basically the third movie in game form, and has the same vibe as the movies.
The humour, unfortunately, does not work as well in a game as it did in the movies. There will still be parts that will give you a decent laugh but there are problems with the delivery. The movies had natural, smooth flowing dialogue, however the game has a slight pause after each character's line. You will never hear them speaking over each other or interrupting one another as they did in the movies. The game takes place two years after the second movie and you play as a new recruit who has been hired to help out and test some new, experimental weapons.
All of the weapons (of which there are four types, each with a secondary fire) have multiple upgrades that you can buy with money earned from busting some ghosts. The weapon variety is, believe it or not, one of my main problems with the game. I know, I know, criticising it for having too much weapon variety sounds crazy, but before you pelt me with stones and call me a griper, hear me out.
The proton streams from the movies are great! You shoot it out, hit ghosts until you weaken them and you then capture them in the stream and have to slam them into the environment in order to stun them and pull them into a trap. This is just as awesome as it sounds. It's a lot of fun wrangling in ghosts and slamming them around. The fact that your streams will destroy things in the environment, causing the kind of damage seen in the movies, is just a bonus. There is also, naturally, a slime weapon. My favourite use for it is where you have to slime people who have been possessed by ghosts in order to get the ghosts out and then switch to proton streams to capture the ghost. There is also a slime tether that is mostly used for puzzle solving. If the developers had just left it at these two weapons and maybe added a bit more depth to them then this would have made the game a much better and more fun experience.
However, they didn't.
They added a couple more weapons. They may have their own Ghostbuster-type descriptions, but basically what you have is a machine gun and a shotgun. The trouble is, when you use these weapons it stops being a Ghostbusters game and becomes just another standard third-person shooter - a pretty boring one, at that. Fortunately you don't have to use these weapons, but some enemies are weaker against them, so you are certainly encouraged to.
You find out a ghost’s weaknesses by scanning them with your PKE meter. When switching to PKE mode, you change to a first-person perspective with a kind of night-vision look, and the PKE meter in front of you. The game uses this to help you find out where to go, figure out puzzles, find hidden items, scan ghosts and basically try to scare the bejesus out of you!
A nice touch is when you scan a ghost (and there are a good variety of ghosts) it adds it to your Token Guide which allows you to read a background bio for every ghost and ancient artifact you can find in the game. Most people probably won't read this, but it is great to see the developers take the time to add these little details.
In fact, details is something this game has no shortage of, and there is no better place to find them than in the Ghostbusters fire station. Here you can find all sorts of Ghostbuster stuff from the movies. It really is a love letter for the fans, as is most of the game.
The music from the movies is there too, which is great at first, but after a while you will get a little tired of hearing the same tunes over and over. They were originally meant for only a two-hour movie after all.
The graphics are disappointing. There are some fantastic CGI cutscenes but there are also some terrible in-game cutscenes. For most of the game the environments look good artistically and are nice and varied. However there are some really low quality textures in some areas and the animations for the Ghostbusters are very stiff.
The AI is also a bit troubling. There are very few times in the game where you will fight alongside all four Ghostbusters, but you will usually have at least one or two with you. The problem comes in getting knocked down. When you are down you need one of the guys to come and revive you and the same goes for when they are down and if you are all down then it is mission failed. Unfortunately, I don't think the other Ghostbusters like each other very much, because they would never help each other up. They'd help me up just fine, but each other, nope. So there were a few battles where I was running around like a damn medic instead of actually fighting Ghosts. The AI can also sometimes take too long to get to you, which will end the mission.
There are also some really cheap areas with major spikes in difficulty. The game took about seven hours to complete but at least one of those hours was me repeating the same four parts over and over because my teammates and I would keep dying. This is extremely frustrating and is only made worse by the same thirty-second long loading screen you have to see each time you die. It definitely kills the fun and hurts the pacing of the story.
Ghostbusters: The Game is a missed opportunity. This should have been a 4-player co-op game. I doubt there will ever be another game with all the voice actors playing their parts, and busting ghosts with your friends is something any fan would have dreamed of. However, judging this on what it is and not what I wanted it to be, it is a good game that captures the feel of what being a Ghostbuster would be like. It is just a shame that it turns out being a Ghostbuster isn't as fun as I'd imagined.
So, I liked Ghostbusters: The Game, but I wanted to love it. When it's trying to be a third-person shooter it's boring, when it's trying to be just a Ghost capturing game, it's plenty of fun. However, if you aren't a fan of the movies then there really isn't much that makes this game special or something even worth looking at. For some fans you may be able to ignore what's wrong with the game. But when you consider all the production resources that were thrown at this game, it is a pity that it didn't attain the greatness it deserved to.