Friday, March 8, 2013

Gamer Drama: A Story Critique of Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Ghostbusters: The Video Game 

    I finished playing Ghostbusters: The Video Game over a year ago (this, this review is a little less detailed than normal), but this game was so much fun I had to include it in an edition if Gamer Drama. I played the Wii version with my boyfriend over the period of a month or so. The game is actually pretty short, but we were living in different cities so he visited ever other weekend. Having to wait to play more of the game was a real killer, as I found it really absorbing and completely hilarious.

     The game takes place after Ghostbusters II, and the Ghostbusters are living large as official contractors in New York City. They've done so well, in fact, that they've decided to expand the business and hire a new recruit (or recruits, if you're playing co-op). Manhattan has been experiencing significantly increased amounts of ghostly activity, and the Ghostbusters--with the help of Dr. Illyssa Selwyn--discover that there is something much bigger going on. You travel to the hotel, library, and museum--among other places--and capture a wide variety of ghosts and mini-bosses using a ton of new, cool tools in your proton pack. Each of these areas works as a "node" in a mandala that will allow the ghost world to break into the real world--part of a scheme by the game's Big Bad, which will turn him into a god (like Gozer the Destroyer). You kill the baddie, save the girl, and save the world--and have lots of fun doing it.

The Setting
       This game is set in the Ghostbusters world, shown in the two movies. Everything is an animated version of the settings from the movies, rendered in a cartoon-like style. Most of the areas are places that we are familiar with from the movies (some more intimately than others), but many are newly created for the game. It's that bit of nostalgia, though, that helps create the realism of the game's settings. Each area in the game has distinctive types of ghosts for you to battle, new challenges to overcome, and more resources to implement. Easter Eggs and horror movie tropes also help, making the environment seem familiar and friendly (even when the ghosts are trying to get you).
       The environment is nicely detailed, especially considering the animation style of the game. The maps are reasonably open, allowing for me to get lost once or twice (and adding to the environment). There are cellars and corners to explore, and plenty of puzzles to solve in each area. The background and items can get a little glitchy at times, though, taking you out of the game. 

The Characters
      The characters that matter in this game are the NPCs, most of which are a little flat (since you're assumedly familiar with the Ghostbusters and most of the supporting cast). Your character is a silent protagonist, more along the classic depiction of such a character. You're known as "Rookie" (or variants of), and you don't have very many qualities other than being the new guy and carrying a proton pack.
       Dan Akroyd tells us to think of this as the "third Ghostbusters movie," and the characterization is definitely in line with that of a second sequel. There's an introduction and a little characterization for Dr. Selwyn, and the Ghostbusters act according to their established characters (Venkman's the same slightly sleezy womanizer, Egon spouts off pseudo-scientific babble that is somehow still funny). All the characters are humorous and enjoyable to spend time with, but the game certainly isn't a character-driven story. 

The Payoff
     Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a fun romp through the Ghostbusters universe. The story line is formulaic, but fun nonetheless. You know what you're getting into with entertainment from the Ghostbusters franchise. Still, the game doesn't try to cheat you of payoff, or pull any fast ones. You get the conclusion you have worked for while playing the game. I turned off the console fully satisfied. 

Grins and Gripes
  • I can't imagine playing this game on anything other than the Wii. Using the Wii-remote mimics using the proton pack, and really brings you into the game. 
  • As a briefly mentioned earlier, the game can be a little glitchy. I got stuck in a few things (like Stay Puft's arm) and had a few ghosts just...sit there. 
  • One of the "goals" of the game is to avoid property damage during each level. I sucked at that--purposefully. It was way too much fun to run around blasting everything with your stream. Everything explodes, and its extremely satisfying. 
  • The combat can get a little monotonous--there are only four ways to beat and capture bad guys, and you use these throughout most of the game. 
  • While some of the low-level baddies look kind of silly (like the librarian ghosts), the bosses look pretty awesome (I particularly enjoyed the Spider Witch).
Rating: 8/10

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