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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Player's Club: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Rated T for Teen

Released June 16

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC

Published by Atari

What it is: Ghostbusters: The Video Game isn’t just a game. It’s an unofficial sequel to the ‘80’s classics. Like the movies, the third-person, Gears of War-style action game has a script by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, and many actors from the movies reprise their roles. Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and even William Atherton (the dude who played Walter Peck) show up. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis passed, unfortunately, so Alyssa Milano voices a new love interest for Murray. You can bet the cut-scenes will be long with all these folks on board.

Bustin’ makes you feel good when: Aykroyd, Ramis, and Murray start talking in the very first cut-scene. Fans of the movies will love hearing these characters again, especially with this script, which is packed full of Ghostbusters trivia and references. Those just looking for a good game will enjoy the generally solid action.

Although it looks like a shooter, Ghostbusters: The Video Game doesn’t quite play like one. Sure, you shoot ghosts with your proton stream, but the goal usually isn’t to destroy them but to wear them down and drag them into a trap. That can take some time, but it distinguishes the game from other shooters, treats the subject matter with respect, and also just feels good. The four-person multiplayer is also a nice change of pace for your Left 4 Dead foursome.

The containment grid shuts down when: the shockingly high difficulty spikes appear. There are a few extremely hard moments in this game that just feel unfair. It’s not fun to face the same boss twenty times in a row before defeating it, especially when no discernible pattern or strategy makes any difference. The script is great for a game, but it’s not quite up to the level of either film. Too much of the humor is based on referencing the first two movies. The first few levels pander a bit too much with non-stop nostalgia; it’s nice to see the Sedgewick Hotel, and the librarian ghost at the Public Library, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but it doesn’t make for an interesting or elegant narrative.

What you should do: Fans of the movie who play games will love the nostalgia, but probably won’t remember this story. Still, few games are as funny or likable as Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and the actual gameplay is just solid enough to warrant a play-through.

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