Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Xbox 360/PS3)

Listen ... do you smell something? Stripped of its license, Ghostbusters is a passable, if largely forgettable game. The entire experience is held together on the merits of its source material alone, with occasionally witty dialog and story draped like a sheet across what amounts to inconsistent gameplay and level design that would make most amateur modders cringe.

Still, given Ghostbusters' rocky road to retail, I suppose we should be grateful that there's a game to complain about at all.

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To its credit, Ghostbusters gets the action right straight away, as wrangling ghosts with a positron collider while wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on your back feels just as manic and haphazard as I'd imagine. Spooks dip and dive mid-air as you give chase, destroying most surroundings in satisfying fashion before finally roping them in and slamming them into the trap. In this way the game feels exactly as it should.

A weightless physics engine leaves the entire game world feeling as if it were made of Styrofoam.


The problem is that this entire experience is explored within the first few moments of gameplay. While Ghostbusters changes things up a smidge by adding a minutia of different weapons and upgrades, these do little to help keep the handful of hours it takes to complete this game from quickly disintegrating into tedium. The malaise is also punctuated by a difficulty curve that spikes like a PKE Meter on Halloween, and while those who tackle the game on its easiest setting will have little trouble making it through, more daring adventurers may have some trouble keeping their frustration contained. Just as with negative reinforcement on ESP ability, this game pissed me right off.

Bloodrayne-dev Terminal Reality's obvious zeal in tackling this storied license is commendable, though I can't say that this game has instilled me with much confidence in the studio's Infernal Engine. While Ghostbusters is billed as boilerplate for the cross-platform middleware, the bulk of the game's levels are poorly designed, punctuated with overlarge halls and stairways and a weightless physics engine that leaves the entire game world feeling as if it were made of Styrofoam.

But at least the game is funny, right?

The original Ghostbusters is one of the most quotable films this side of The Princess Bride, a benchmark this game fails to meet -- let alone exceed. Banter, while occasionally spot on, more often than not falls flat, and comes off like the actors doing impersonations of these characters rather than actually losing themselves in these iconic roles.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Bill Murray's portrayal of Dr. Peter Venkman, which is both stilted and charmless. Unfortunately this same description can just as easily be laid at the feet of the game's story, which fails to even measure up to the tepid Ghostbusters 2, complete with an ending that feels like a grapefruit forced through a straw.

All is not lost, however, with a handful of multiplayer modes that ensure Ghostbusters has at least a modicum of extended shelf life, though even these fail to save this game from being merely average. It's unfortunate, but maybe it was too much to believe that Ghostbusters would give the stigma that surrounds movie-licensed games a total protonic reversal. As it stands, there is some fun to be had, as well as a few chuckles. However, given that I've seen Ghostbusters more times than I care to admit, I don't expect to revisit this video game any time soon. Well, at least not until dogs and cats can learn to live together.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.