Saturday, 11 July 2009

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

What is the primary purpose of a movie tie-in video game? Is it deliver a cutting-edge gaming experience, or is simply to allow players the opportunity to immerse themselves in a familiar, big screen drag act? Ghostbusters: The Video Game opts for the latter, plumping up an outmoded scrap-shooter with acres of Hollywood needling. Character selection unavailable, players are cast as a mute, indistinct everyman. This rookie addition to the Ghostbuster's ranks resembles the sort of man-child that haunts the fringes of Judd Apatow comedies. Interest and enjoyment is maintained through ever present scripted chatter with the rest of the feature film spook slammers. As the game rolls on, group progress splinters into two-man teams, allowing spotlight performance for the old hands. Even Ernie Hudson's oft neglected Winston Zeddemore gets a level to shine, taking exasperated lead whilst marching through a haunted laundromat.

With interact mechanics that'd embarrass a last gasp PS2 title, Ghostbusters is largely irrelevant as a serious gaming proposition. Difficulty calibrated to err on the frustrating - players must frequently vent their proton pack to avoid overheating, and team-mates must be constantly rescued from downed states, the result of the high intensity slime flinging that passes for opposition. Sure signs of short adventure padding. It's a poor substitute for genuine gaming meat. Luckily, this lemon is enveloped in a suite of chat banter that rarely dips below big screen quality. The writing, by Flint Dille, Patrick Hegarty, John Melchior and John Zuur Platten (with a dialogue polish by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis), is amusing and personable, easily outshining the rather tepid re-heat Ghostbusters 2 movie. Ghostbusters: The Video Game is best played at a novice difficulty setting, better to allow a constant stream of dialogue and situational updates, with less time spent hassling with artificial embellishment.

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