Fans of the movies may be disappointed, gamers even more so in this latest adaptation of Ghostbusters
There is no doubt that the original Ghostbusters film is one of the most widely known science fiction films of the 1980s, a film that separated itself from the others by being both a hilarious comedy and also an interesting science tale. By contrast, the sequel a few years later that was Ghostbusters 2 seems to have lost a lot of the unique appeal and sharp writing of the original. I am not here to critique movies of course, but with this reference I am sad to say that in terms of writing and plot, Ghostbusters: The Videogame continues the decline of the series straight into mediocrity. The game was released after several delays in development and multiple publisher changes. There have been many reports that the writing and plot of the game was meant to be used in the movie, and this could have potentially been a good movie to boot. But, as video game narrative goes, it simply does not work. If you’re a huge fan of the movies then undoubtedly you’ve already finished the game and enjoyed all the little details and references to the lore of the series. But for a lot of the gamers out there, both fans and non-fans of the movies, the Ghostbusters game comes off as your typical everyday third person action game with some imaginative but very rare locations and great true-to-life character designs.
One of the reasons for the success of the movies was the plot. Many fans likely jumped at the fact when it was revealed that the story of the game was partially written by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis – the actors who also worked on the script for the movies. Each of the actors who portrayed the Ghostbusters in the films - Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson - lent their voices and likenesses to the in-game characters. The events of the game occur during Thanksgiving day 1991, two years after the events in Ghostbusters 2. The team are training a new recruit, you, who does not have a name and does not speak. The nameless new recruit you play looks very young and some of the facial animations are rather odd. A large energy shockwave then hits New York City, and sends the team on a variety of calls to capture ghosts that result from it. If you have seen either of the movies, you are now starting to realize that this sounds a lot like the plot of the films. Indeed, during many parts of the game it seemed to be that the writers were simply copying the plot of the films with a few changed locales. I do not wish to spoil a whole lot, but you will see many ghosts from the movies (and will have to catch them again), there will be a damsel in distress (who will turn out to be the cause of a lot of events because of her ancestors), and so on. It’s hardly original, feels like the writers just wanted to do a game based on the movies but ended up adding just enough of their own material to make it “an original”. You will also visit a few locations from the movies (more than once) such as the Sedgewick Hotel, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of Natural History. Again this feels like you’re simply going through the notions of the films with a new story painted over them, which is not overly exciting for fans who wanted something new to see. The dialogue is very cringe-worthy as well, and there are so many “witty” lines and cutscenes that it almost becomes unbearable to listen to yet another attempted slapstick joke time after time. There are a few good batches of lines, but the rest is just nonsense banter and I can’t believe that the real actors doing the voices were given such terrible material to work with. After a while the story narrows itself down to more of a game setting, tasking your team with shutting a few portals around the city before the big finale. You will likely be the best member of your team due to very simplistic AI, catching the most ghosts and keeping everyone alive – but at the end of the game, the four Ghostbusters determine that five is just too many, and offer you a position as the head of a yet-to-be-opened Ghostbusters franchise in another city. Gee, thanks.
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