Friday, July 10, 2009

Ghostbusters: The Videogame


(I played the version for the Wii, so I can't comment on the graphics of the other versions, or if there's much difference otherwise.)

Ghostbusters is a fun game that uses a single mechanic too much while treading ultimately blocky repetitive levels. What the game does well is really give you a solid mechanic for tackling a variety of ghosts that are, in general, fairly similar. They either fly around in circles ocassionally swooping in to attack or they run/drift at you, trying to swarm you. You hit them repeatedly with various forms of energy until they either disappear right there or can then be wrestled with until they lose the fight and you can drop them into a trap. It's a fairly simple mechanic of shooting enemies without draining all of your energy and having to let it replenish. I felt energy drained slightly too fast, but still, once you had knocked enough out of the ghost to get a lock on with your proton pack, you would swing the remote in different directions, slamming the ghost against walls until you had defeated it. That was a lot of fun, I thought, and, unfortunately, it was the only really satisfying part of the game to me.

The story was decently clever, and the various actors did a good job of bringing it to life. Except Bill Murray, who seemed far too calm and quiet during the whole affair; it almost seemed as if he were whispering out his lines. I do wish they had recorded a little more idle chatter, however, as they were fairly quiet when the cutscenes weren't occurring.

As a level designer/environment artist, I was somewhat disappointed by the all-around blocky levels. They were bright and colorful and interesting for a couple minutes, and then many would descend into the same routine of extending the levels by copying sections and then pasting them over a few more times so you had more distance to cover. In particular, I wasn't a fan of the graveyard and its strangely tight corridors. I guess I've never been to graveyards with winding corridors of stone walls... Although I should say there were also decent levels, my favorite being the museum with its open halls.

Much of what annoyed me doesn't seem so bad in retrospect (a week after playing the game), but I distinctly came out of the game just glad it was done. I felt engaged for parts of the game, but at other points it was just slogging through to the next interesting checkpoint. I played through with a friend and we decided it was a good game to rent, but not to buy.

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