I recently got to see the Ghostbusters film directed by Paul Feig, even after the waves of negativity that followed the trailers. I have to say that I really surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. Film tie-in games on the whole have never had huge degrees of success so I was unsure what to expect with the recent Ghostbusters game which comes from an unknown studio called Fireforge.
The game is a twin-stick shooter, developed by Firforge and published by Activision. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard great things about this game but I actually enjoyed some aspects of the game. The first thing to mention is that the four main characters aren’t the four woman in the recent film but are in fact a new cast of characters that are much different. It does feel like the game lacks much depth and feels rushed but it does provide enjoyable but simplistic gameplay.
When you first start the game you get to choose which of the four Ghostbusters to play as, with two women and two men. The opening cutscene actually looks really impressive, with a vibrant comic book style that feels like an animated cartoon. I could see that the developers have tried to create four interesting characters with fun personalities but unfortunately their personalities fall flat and the game is full of dodgy one-liners throughout.
The game starts pretty quickly and the first level is your basic tutorial mission that introduces you to the basic mechanics of the game, which don’t really progress or change during the entirety of the campaign. That perhaps is one of the games biggest downfalls, as successful games tend to slowly introduce to features and mechanics as you progress, giving a sense of achievement and keeps gameplay fresh. Like I said the game is a twin-stick shooter, with the left stick moving your character and the right sticks aims your weapon. You shoot with the back right trigger and there are some different controls when it comes to capturing ghosts. The game does also offer local co-op with friends being able to play as the three other Ghostbusters. You play from a top-down perspective that gives you a good view of the layout and design of environments.
The story is pretty basic and what you would expect, with the four Ghostbusters hunting down ghouls and ghosts in various locations around the city as they are reported by eye witnesses. I was disappointed with how flat the characters and plot felt and was hoping that the gameplay would shine through instead. The four characters have slightly different weapons, whether its pistols, minigun, shotgun, or assault rifle but it really doesn’t impact or change the experience. The shooting does feel good at first but the gameplay quickly becomes increasingly repetitive and fails to add anything new throughout. You do also have grenades to use against the ghosts, which does at least mix gameplay up a bit. As you explore each level you use your PKE meter, which helps discover tracks and footprints. When you come across larger enemies and bosses you use your proton beam to capture them. The level structures remain the same throughout, with you clearing out rooms of small enemies before confronting a larger enemy and carrying out the routine steps to capture them. It’s also important to mention that your weapon can overheat and you need to reload or ‘cool down’ your weapon to restore it to its full power.
If your heath depletes too far you fall to the ground and wait for another Ghostbuster to revive you. At the end of each stage you can also level up, which again is a system that lacks any sort of depth. This is also where another obvious issue creeps in, as you level up the AI companions remain the same, meaning they fall behind and it becomes clear its best to play this game with others.
I actually really liked the cartoonish presentation of the game, with its vibrant colours and interesting level design, it’s just a shame that the gameplay falls flat and the characters are irritating and lack any sort of personality. The music is obviously good and the classic Ghostbusters theme song plays from the very start. The dialogue is pretty bad, with tedious one-liners that are continuous throughout. It would have worked better if they were more sparing with the jokes, instead of an endless spurting them out one after another.
Overall the game left me with mixed feelings. I’m a huge fan of the Ghostbusters franchise as I grew up watching the original films and cartoons. I also really enjoyed the 2009 Ghostbusters game. This latest game has some good ideas and I do love a good twin-stick shooter but unfortunately this game falls short and the gameplay becomes stake very quickly. The game looks great and runs well but doesn’t manage to capture the essence of what make the franchise so enjoyable. If the game had more depth, deeper story and meaningful gameplay it could have been so much better. I would suggest playing the game in short bursts and I’m sure younger gamers will still enjoy getting to play this game after watching the recent Ghostbusters film.
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