It's been 25 years since Ghostbusters first lit up the big screen and to commemorate that event, Atari has brought the ghost-hunting troupe to the small screen in Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
The original cast members — including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson — have come together for the first time in 20 years to voice their parts. What's more, this all-new adventure was penned by Aykroyd and Ramis, and reportedly contains ideas that never made it into theaters. Other actors are back, too, such as Annie Potts and William Atherton, along with more contemporary talent including Alyssa Milano, who voices the part of Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn. The slimy ghoul Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man are also back.
But you needn't be a fan of the 1984 flick (or its 1989 sequel) to enjoy this cinematic adventure, as its intense combat and personality-driven story line hold up on their own merit.
You'll play from a third-person perspective and rely on an assortment of weapons and gadgets to hunt, fight, and trap ghosts responsible for wreaking havoc in New York City. In the single-player campaign, which takes place two years after the events of Ghostbusters II, you'll play as a "rookie" to the Ghostbusters team, don the proton backpack and blast spirits into oblivion or wrangle them into the stasis trap.
If you've ever played a fishing game then you'll likely pick up the wrangling fairly quickly. After you weaken flying ghosts by firing at them with your proton stream (and then press the controller's left shoulder button to slam them into walls and floors), you must drag these feisty phantasms into the light emanating from the stasis trap by fiddling with the left and right analog sticks. Once a ghost is caught, the stasis trap slams shut.
There are other tools at your disposal, too, such as ones that let you scan and analyze potential threats using the PKE Meter (which measures electromagnetic fluctuations in the area to reveal a target) and Para-Goggles that allow you to see otherwise invisible "ectoplasmic" activity. An in-game tutorial helps you with these gadgets in the first level, which brings you back to Manhattan's Sedgewick Hotel.
The graphics are quite impressive as you lay waste to libraries, city streets and entire floors of hotels, while colorful beams of electricity dance around the screen, hitting their (mostly) transparent targets who soar around you.
There are even multiplayer modes that let you be one of the original Ghostbusters and take on challenging missions outside of the single-player campaign — including online co-op options to play with your friends in another city. Disappointingly, the PC version doesn't support any multiplayer features.
On that note, the game isn't perfect. At times the combat feels repetitive as you move onto new locations and perform similar tasks to take down the ghosts (though some of your equipment is upgradeable with money earned throughout the game). Also, while the amusing banter between the team members is well written and succinctly delivered, the lip-synching is off, which hurts the suspension of disbelief.
Minor shortcomings notwithstanding, whether or not you're a fan of the flicks, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a spirited adventure well worth the price of admission.
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