Also On: Xbox One
Developer: Fire Forge
I am a huge fan of Ghostbusters. The original movie and, to a lesser extent, the sequel are great films that still hold up today. Now, we have the reboot with a whole new cast and story with this game acting as a sort of sequel. If this game is any indication of what the new movie will be like, I think we might be in trouble.
The game begins with four new Ghostbusters holding down the fort while the cast from the new movie is off fighting ghosts all over the country. The 4 new characters are completely annoying with cheesy one liners and slapstick right out of the gate before you even start playing. It's clear that they tried to make each of the playable characters have a distinct personality, but it ultimately ends up being annoying. The story is forgettable, but it has something to do with Ghostbuster franchises opening up all over the world, and fighting some bad fella named Rowan and his army of ghosts.
Once the actual game begins, you select the first level and after a painful attempt at comedy between the caller and the Ghostbusters on the phone, you enter the actual game. Game play is from an overhead perspective with you controlling one of 4 Ghostbusters all on the screen at the same time. Most of the time, you'll be moving from room to room zapping different ghosts leading you to a boss ghost you have to trap. It's a decent concept, but just not executed very well. The other 3 characters are AI controlled and when they are not walking into walls or shooting at nothing, they stand around and chat.
This game is made for couch multiplayer, as playing with the AI partners is a chore, but good luck finding anyone that actually wants to play with you. As you progress through the level you will use a standard weapon to damage smaller ghosts and a traditional proton stream and trap for the larger ghosts. Each Buster has their own set of weapons that can be powered up after each battle using the "ecto" collected from destroying smaller ghosts or finding hidden spots with your PKE meter. The enhancements can make your character move faster or hit harder and while some do help in the later levels, most of them are not needed to progress. Since there is no auto targeting of any kind, and when you are firing you are locked in one direction, it becomes increasingly difficult to actually hit targets in the later levels. A game like this could of benefited from having a Dual Analog control scheme, but were left with this imperfect method.
The overhead view is OK for this type of game, but the absence of a lock on feature will have you shooting in the wrong direction most of the time. Especially when using the Proton Stream to capture the boss ghosts. You have to use your right analog to slam the ghosts into the wall or floor a few times before you can trap them, and the AI allies don't make that easy as they will try to use their Proton Streams at the same time. Eventually you will capture them and get good at it, but it's frustrating on the first couple of battles. A similar slamming and trapping method was done in Atari's "Ghostbusters: The Video Game", but while the method fit well with that game, it does not mesh well with this style. Another frustrating thing is having to vent your weapons if you use them too much. It's kind of like reloading, and if you forget to do it, you won't be able to attack for a short time. Again, this worked in the previous game but when the action gets hectic and you forget to vent, you have to run away or use a grenade to take out the baddies that are attacking you. Imagine in the classic game "Gauntlet" you have to stop fighting to reload your weapons, and you can get an idea of how frustrating it is here.
Graphics take a very cartoony look, reminiscent of the seldom seen "Extreme Ghostbusters" TV series. It's not bad looking, and fits well with the overall goofiness of the game, but reminds me of an early Wii game and not something that should be on a PS4 or Xbox One. The sound is mostly annoying with little to no music, except the classic Ghostbusters theme (which is still great) and the painfully unfunny chatter spewed by the main characters and the ghosts. Each cut-scene is more painful than the next, but thank goodness you can skip them. From what I saw there is no way to turn off the in game chatter, so you'll have to find a way to tune it out.
Ghostbusters is one of those games that is completely forgettable. A decent concept that works most of the time, with the overall presentation bogging down the whole experience. I can't see many people playing it for more than an hour before getting irritated. It most likely best played with 4 people on a couch rather than alone, but even then I don't see the fun factor lasting for very long. Granted it's a very functional game, but it's positive moments are overshadowed by countless annoyances. I cannot recommend this to even the most diehard Ghostbusters fan. Just stick with Atari's 2009 release for your Ghostbusting needs and leave this one alone.