Bustin’ makes me feel…alright, I suppose.
If you’re going to do Ghostbusters, do it properly I say. The film is one of the best of the 80’s, and that logo and theme tune remain powerfully iconic to this day so it’s ironic that no one’s been able to create a videogame that accurately represents the franchise. There have been few half-hearted attempts scattered throughout the annuls of gaming history, but nothing that makes you want to stand up in the middle of a university lecture and announce to everyone that bustin’ makes you feel good, then sit back down again. Very quickly.
Capcom are the latest to throw their Proton Blasters into the ring with ‘Ghostbusters’ (you didn’t think it would be called anything else did you?), which takes the form of a squad-building agency manager similar to last year’s Men In Black 3. It scores points straight away for using the proper Ray Parker Jr theme tune and not some generic knock-off. Believe me, if it didn’t I would’ve stopped playing immediately and this review would’ve been left on the scrapheap. Or at least picked up by Torbjorn.
In fact, it’s not only the main theme music that’s been utilized, that other mischievous plinkity-plink piano motif is also featured (the one at the start of the movie – go watch it). And because of this, the game is seeped in the fun atmosphere of the film. The license has been made good use of – all four busters, Janine, Slimer and the ECTO1 all make an appearance, and it’s clear the developers understand and appreciate the original. Peter Venkman’s sardonic wit isn’t quite realised here, but if you could capture Bill Murray in a bottle someone would’ve done it ages ago and sold it on eBay.
The emphasis here is on building your team, completing missions for cash and micro managing your agency. There’s a lot here to do – you can slide between the different levels of Ghostbusters HQ to research various ghosts around the map, pick up slime samples, upgrade your weapons and recruit and organising new team members. You complete jobs for cash across the cute map of New York City which progresses both the story and your buster’s levels. The various research and upgrades take real-world time to complete, but can be accessed much quicker using energy points which can be purchased using that other real-world thing: money. The original cast are available to play, but cost a hellacious amount to unlock, and the more you play, the more energy points are used. Unless you pay up, you’ve got to wait around fiddling with your proton blaster. Remind me to edit that, it sounds a little naughty.
Unfortunately the sheer amount of stuff to do ends up working against ‘Ghostbusters’ a little. It’s easy to get bogged down in the many menu screens and the actual action of getting rid of the ghosts isn’t really up to snuff. Your trio come in three buster flavours – Scientist, Wrangler and Blaster, when you’re faced with the other-wordly creatures, you trace a line from any one of your three busters towards the ghosts, and they begin to attack.
This doesn’t strike me as the most enthralling manner in which to bust. I would much rather grab a weapon the size of my head (big…very big), proceed to obliterate everything on screen, and watch the slime fly.
It’s not that the combat is bad, far from it. It’s enjoyable as part of a good package, but this is Ghostbusters, surely a straight blaster would’ve been a lot more fun. Sometimes it feels as if this attempt at recreating the classic is bogged down in red tape and finally getting round to combat is a little bit of an anticlimax.
Don’t get me wrong, what’s here is slick and well presented. The musical cues are straight from the film and fantastic, the visuals, although a little unsubtle, are a well drawn cartoon style with busy environments and a nice variety of ghosts, and there’s definitely a lot of content.
But there’s always the feeling at the back of your mind that the game is a little over-complicated. Ironically, it’s because it’s so well presented and fun that you can’t help thinking how much more fun a simple balls-to-the-wall blast fest would’ve been. The agency building template, like my trousers from ten years ago, just doesn’t seem to be the most natural fit.
Who you gonna call? Kevin? Well he’s on Twitter @KevThePen.