I went into the Ghostbusters game having just watched the original movie – over 25 years old now, if you can believe it – on Blu-ray. Its effects may be a bit rough around the edges and they really do smoke a lot compared to what you could get away with now, but it’s certainly not as embarrassing to look back on with 21st Century eyes as some of the popular films of the era and holds up amazingly well.
This is where it’s tempting to spout a cliché about the traditional shortcomings of movie-licensed games and the dangers of resurrecting beloved classics – never forget – but Ghostbusters is notable for the involvement of the original creative team, still clearly enthusiastic about it and what it could mean for the seemingly inevitable Ghostbusters 3, and it makes a massive difference. Much of the original cast is in it, and while some are better than others – Dan Aykroyd’s apparently never left character, for example, whereas Bill Murray sounds slightly phoned in in comparison – the script is great and it’s genuinely funny.
Now you may have noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how authentic and funny it is and not much time on what it’s actually like to play. This is where it becomes a bit hit and miss. It’s absolutely brilliant when you’ve got the whole team together, wrangling a ghost as it struggles to escape the trap – and the effects here are spot-on, it must be said – but it’s less so when you’re using the shotgun-like attachment to your proton pack to shoot down waves of flying ghosts or slowly whittling down the health of another palette-swapped golem.
Despite the flaws, though, I’m really enjoying it. Setting it in 1991 was a smart decision, and the modern hardware – well… some more than others – proves more than capable of recreating 80s special effects. The aforementioned ghost-wrangling really is a treat for fans.
Terminal Reality has also done a great job of creating an atmosphere and actually proves pretty adept at getting in some decent scares. There are a couple of moments in the hotel when particularly powerful apparitions bend reality itself, like when an area is flooded with water and comes over all nautical while you’re in it. The game takes delight in forcing you to search for paranormal disturbances using your PKE meter and the narrow field of view that comes with it only to make something jump out or, when it’s being more subtle, flash just outside your field of view, all to good effect. It’s hardly Silent Hill scary, and it’s probably not even up there with when the library ghost traumatised you as a child, but it proves that there’s more to the game than Dan Aykroyd’s script.
While Ghostbusters may be a little rough around the edges, those with fond memories of the film will likely have fun with it. I certainly have.