It’s easy to see why a reboot of the 1980’s classic Ghostbusters was a controversial decision, the same way any beloved movie getting a modern retelling or a sequel too late can leave a bad taste in a fan’s mouth. Myself, I’ve been pretty excited for the new Ghostbusters as I’m a big fan of SNL, but I’ve still yet to see it. Something else I liked the idea of was another big budget game akin to 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game – acting as a sequel to the original movies with the main cast providing vocal work… sadly, we got this.
Developer: FireForge Games
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also Available On: Xbox One & PC
Release Date: Out Now
Set after the new film, Ghostbusters acts as a cartoony sequel/spinoff which doesn’t involve any of the new female cast. Instead, a new cast of two male and two female characters with unique weapons and abilities (a bit like Extreme Ghostbusters). It’s hard to tell if this cast of characters is formed in a world where they work for the new Ghostbusters or are part of a franchise – something that has been explored in comics and games.
You begin by sitting around in the iconic New York firehouse waiting for new jobs to come in before setting out on each mission. Each mission is a top-down 1-4 player cooperative shooter; that sees you set off to find, takedown and then capture each spooky target.
Shooting is performed through proton packs which serve two functions; an attack mode that uses a bullet type attack and then there’s the classic proton stream for wrangling spirits, ready for capturing. As to be expected when strapping a man-portable particle accelerator system to your back and blast energy at unsuspecting ghosts, it is prone to overheating. This can be avoided by pressing the right shoulder button and resetting your heating gauge – failure to do so will mean that your character will be unable to fire until you clicked the cooldown button three times. Each character also has a grenade power that is either based on flash, electricity, dark matter or slime depending on who you pick.
Once familiar with your controls, it’s time to get busting through levels and taking down small ghosts using twin stick shooter mechanics. Though each character is meant to be distinctly different with independent ability to break apart from each other, the changes are marginal outside of their looks. You have a cocky male leader-type, the slower but stronger heavy, the all-rounder and the fast but weak one – a tried and tested formula. Even with these advantages and disadvantages in different skills and different weapon types, everybody feels the same to play starting out.
It’s the combination of needing to upgrade each character and the large levels that warrant the need to play cooperatively, as going at it alone will mean repeating your actions. Which when the actions taken in-game are rather repetitive in themselves, you may want to avoid doing them any more than you have to. It’s a constant flow of; shoot small ghosts, shoot bigger ghosts, capture bigger ghosts, repeat and then capture the final boss to end the level. There are also side missions of using a PKE Meter to move around slowly and scan the floor to find hidden markings for upgrades.
Sadly I had to go about my Ghostbusting experience solo; funnily enough, I couldn’t find anybody willing to play this game. As I trundled through each monotonous area, I wondered just why this game had been released instead of taking the current trend of just re-releasing a polished version of the 2009 title? To which I’ve come up with the same reason I don’t like the gameplay featured in LEGO titles, it’s meant for children and not for me.
Unfortunately, it’s the repetitiveness of the game that is it’s major downfall, throughout my time playing it just didn’t feel fun. With every cool little nostalgic tone; like the Proton Pack firing up sound or Ray Parker Jr.’s Who Ya Gonna Call? playing ad nauseam in between levels, there’s still stiff feeling controls and dull storyboards.
This Ghostbusters game may aim towards at a younger audience in this case, but I think children deserve better than this. Remember when most kid’s movies would be flashy with no substance before the like of Shrek or Toy Story and now most animated features tailor to all members of the family? That’s what this could have been and failed.
Looking back, this whole experience does tie into an old tradition of terrible Ghostbusters video games as I can remember playing the 1984 tie-in and being about as impressed as I am playing this in 2016. That had the old theme playing over and over again too.