10 years ago Ghostbusters: The Video Game released to let us bust some ghosts in the universe of everyone's favourite paranormal franchise, and now we have a remaster courtesy of Saber Interactive and Mad Dog Games. Since our last review was a whole decade ago, we decided it was time for another full review for 2019 audiences, while also looking back at what's changed compared to the original.
Regarding the latter point, the changes are in the visual department. This is an HD re-release that looked good and ran smoothly on PC when we played via the Epic Games Store, except for some notable abnormalities. Firstly, the cutscenes (the cinematic ones that brought in black bars at the top and bottom of the screen) were incredibly grainy and low quality, much more so than the rest of the game, and the character models are still very off. There were countless times Dan Aykroyd's mouth wouldn't be moving in time with his dialogue, or Bill Murray would just be oogling us wide-eyed as we conversed.
In those ways it still feels very dated and 2009, especially considering it's from an era where third-person games were everywhere, but it actually plays very well, and fits into the modern-day nicely when things get going. The colours pop, the environments look cool for the most part, and it doesn't feel clunky to play, most importantly.
This isn't based on either of the first two films (nor the 2016 version), but instead takes place in 1991, two years after Ghostbusters II. With all the presumed knowledge of the franchise, the game wastes no time in getting you into the thick of things, as you're a rookie who's tasked with joining Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and the rest of the crew as they tackle ghosts in the city.
This includes the iconic Slimer of course, as well as the Stay-Puft marshmallow man, so if you're a fan of the franchise you'll really enjoy this. It treads the same notes as the other films, but with an original story revolving around another looming threat, and of course it's a nice touch to have the cast involved to reprise their roles, providing plenty of dialogue as you explore Manhattan with the gang.
You start off by learning the ropes at HQ, which involves the Proton Stream. You use this, for the most part, to defeat grunts and weaken ghosts, then capturing them and escorting them to a deployable trap. Of course not all ghosts are the same, and some might take longer than others to weaken, but for the most part it's relatively straightforward.
The first hour or so of the game is a little slow, and doesn't really do the rest of the experience justice, but once you leave the first hotel and flood into the streets of Manhattan, that's when things get really fun. The Stay-Puft colossus is a highlight of the entire game, and appears early on, letting us use all we've been taught in a huge boss fight to kick things off.
It's at this point we start to see more mechanics layered on as well, like a new beam that can freeze enemies, as well as deploying a shotgun-like blast. There are upgrades to spend with the money you collect too, improving your various abilities, and you can get extra money by using your PKE meter to switch to a first-person perspective and look around the environment for valuable artifacts.
The PKE meter is valuable for investigating the environment for ghosts too, and this uses the goggles you'll remember from the film. This is important for searching for ghosts and paranormal activity, and you'll use this alongside other abilities to help the squad out. You might even run into the Ecto-1 vehicle too...
Considering the older versions on PS3 and Xbox 360 had multiplayer, it's a shame not to see this included here at launch. It seems almost built for multiplayer, although it's worth noting that the older version wasn't a co-op campaign, but a standalone mode that sees you catch ghosts and defend ghost disruptors. We'd like to see both or just one of these in the future, since that's what we remember enjoying a lot.
That said, the campaign does offer a lot, and you'll get between six and eight hours of varied Manhattan environments, familiar faces and new characters, and the chance to live the dream of being a Ghostbuster in the flesh. With the new Ghostbusters film being prepared as well, now's as good a time as ever to get into the franchise and live it for yourself.
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