Review: Ghostbusters – The Video Game

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Don’t cross the streams. Go get her, Ray! Back off man … I’m a scientist.

If you remember those lines, then you might be ready to believe “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” is the perfect title for you. But if not … the experience will haunt you.

Ghostbusters remains one of the most quotable and memorable movies of the ’80s, and gamers old enough to remember it have been waiting for a title to match its epically quirky quality.

Terminal Reality certainly tries its best in “Ghostbusters: The Video Game,” assembling the original cast, rolling out familiar enemies and supplying players every opportunity to unleash particle beam hell on any free-roaming vapors that cross their path.

However, some irritating flaws plague the experience enough to keep it far from transcendent status.

As a new recruit signed on to field-test the group’s lastest anti-ghost weaponry, die-hard Ghostbusters fans will find themselves in phantom-fighting paradise.

The RE4/Gears-style camera view mixed with weapons ranging from the signature particle stream and slime blower to an electric, creature-shattering shotgun runs circles around the deliberate pace set by the movies. You’re in a full-bore war against the spirit world now, not a simple extermination job. The game turns the act of catching ghosts into an arduous, multi-step process that’s as cathartic and emotionally rewarding as it is maddening.

It’s best to play the game with friends, because your computer-controlled squadmates can’t stay out of harm’s way. Prepare to be caught in a cycle where you’re running back and forth among Ray, Peter, Egon or Winston reviving them because they can’t elude the swipe of a golem the same way you can.

The game’s also not the lovliest thing to look at, as many of the characters look somewhat stoned. Granted, fighting ghosts would probably give me a 1,000-yard stare as well, but these guys are supposed to be pros, and given the tech that’s out there, the sticky-icky look on faces should be a distant memory.

And with the exception of the ventures into the spirit world, the level design carries a generic flatness that doesn’t capture the eye.

A pleasant surprise was the story, which resurrects a lot of the old ideas from the movies but adds enough comedic spice and dialogue to avoid seeming tired. The PKE-meter sequences where you’re required to scan things in darkness adds a nice element of fear to the experience as well.

If you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters name, then this piece of work is certainly worth a few spins in your console. But if not, then you’ll be faced with a fun but flawed game that makes you feel like you’re missing the joke.

Ghostbusters
Terminal Reality / Atari
Rated T for Teen
Multiple platforms