Ok, this will be an uncharacteristic first for me. Lately, I've been hooked on satirical, edgy, and in some cases down-right angry game review sites. *cough* Angry Video Game Nerd *cough* Having run out of current material from other sites I plugged in a few choice tokens in Google and voila, here I am.
So I ventured through around 25 different episodes from Yahtzee, starting from the beginning (after all, what's worth watching is worth watching from the beginning) and jumping from familiar title to familiar title there-after. I laughed, I cried, I had to mend multiple stitches in my side. I love the guy. I love the brutal and unflinching way in which he goes for the throat, and damn the torpedoes!
Now I won't say I don't give a rat's ass about other people's opinions, because I do. I process them, I weigh them together, I average them out. I try to find the element of truth that binds the similar opinions together to get an overall picture. But, I digress.
I normally don't even bother hitting the forums on sites like these either, because generally one way or the other, I'm here for the main content, not what other people think about it. I have my laughs and go about my day.
That being said...
This is a review that (not unlike others already pointed out) leans a bit towards the "Missing the Mark" side of things enough that I felt compelled to create an account, wait an inordinate amount of time for the registration email (30 minutes in this day and age for an automated email response is a bit of a stretch), and shovel my own foul-smelling, easily ignored, and completely ineffectual opinions upon anyone here who cares to read it.
If you are any bit of a true video gaming geek at all, you already have the bad taste of countless movie franchise game translations left upon your taste buds. With each sequel, and prequel, and sequel to a sequel, and spin-off, your hopes for a decent conversion or representation of the source material has been crushed repeatedly.
It's a tad bit masochistic actually, we know they're going to be bad, they have a history of being horrid, there are very few exceptions (read damn-near-non-existent) that haven't left us pulling out swatches of our hair, shaking our heads, and saying "What were they fucking thinking?" Of course the answer we all eventually come to is "Capitalizing on a beloved franchise, and sucking Satan's cock are not mutually exclusive notions in the gaming or movie industry."
In the instance of the Ghostbusters Franchise, you only need look back at the long and uninspired string of games released on everything from the Atari 2600 to the Super Nintendo and beyond for examples where Satan obviously got a hummer, and someone walked away with a shit-load of greenbacks. Oh, and fuck the fans.
Surprisingly, this is NOT one of those games. This is a GREAT GAME. There, I've said it, and I won't take it back. I bought it, I brought it home, I crossed my fingers, I powered up the system, I suspended my hopes and I put that receipt right there on the table within easy reaching distance next to my car keys.
And. Eight hours later, watching the closing credits, I had this feeling of wholesome completion. I felt purified from every crap-tastic piece of dog-shit software I'd every bought into in the name of Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston.
Yeah, eight hours, I took my time, I relished every moment. Every quip, every explorable area, every answering machine message at the GB HQ. When it was over, sure I wanted more, and sure I felt like the game could have been at least a few areas longer. But then, I love the GB franchise. This thing pegged my nostalgia meter, it spun the needle.
Of course there were a few things that I could nick-pick about, so let me elaborate on them so as not to seem one-sided.
1: The inability of customizing your own character. Not a big thing, but it would have added just a little bit more immersion than just playing John Q. Ghostbuster.
2: Very short chapters, and an overall short story-arc. They could have padded this thing out just a bit more. The few "bosses" you get to fight are interesting, but the lead up to fighting them is too short to build up enough steam to get your overall nervous tension fired.
3: No side-missions. This is pretty much a linear crawl from start to finish. A handful of extra-curricular missions here and there wouldn't have hurt.
You know, I'm scratching my meager brain at this point, because try as I might I really can't find another major flaw in the execution of this game. Sure a lot of people have pointed out that the AI is has some weak moments, and in some instances you spend as much time fighting ghosts as you do reviving your fallen mates. But these cases tend to be exceptions to the rule and usually occur more highly at the increased difficulty levels than in a casual level game. And rightly so. If you increased the difficulty, and the ghosts got stronger and your mates got stronger, and you were the only one to feel like a gimp, it'd piss you off now wouldn't it?
Oh, and did I mention the multiplayer portion of the game? No. Well, step right this way. This is actually one of the areas I was biting my nails over. So many games rely on the ubiquitous multiplayer modes of Capture the Flag, Capture and Hold, Steal the Woozle, Plant the Foozle, and of course, yes, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. This game was a pleasant surprise. None of that overused, overdone bullshit here. Multiplayer is completely cooperative in this game. However! That doesn't mean it's not competitive, as you hustle about attempting not only to work with your mates but also try to earn the biggest score from each of the game modes.
And the game modes work well. There's your Entrapment mode where you try to catch as many ghosts as possible within the time limit, there's Survival mode where, yup, you guess it, stay alive as long as possible. There's a Thief mode where you attempt to prevent 4 artifacts from being stolen away by the pesky poltergeists that spawn wave after wave. There's even that incredibly fun Slam Dunk mode where you attempt to slam dunk differently colored (and differently valuable) Slimer clones in a race against your buddies.
I dunno, I just can't see why anyone would really have anything to nit-pick about this game. Of course in the case of Zero Punctuation, the complaints seem to be on the order of "Why couldn't it have starred new characters in a new location with completely different technology and a brand new and unrelated story line from all of the rest of the source material?"
The answer quite simply is that it wouldn't have been Ghostbusters, it wouldn't have been anything like we remember, in fact... it would have been a lot like this:
I don't care if Filmation was the first to have the name, or the general concept. To fans of the Ivan Reitman Ghostbusters legacy, it was like comparing Transformers to the Go-Bots.. same concept, just nowhere near as satisfying. Sort of like the Brand-X Ghostbusters.
Anyway, to conclude a very, very long winded post. If you generally get the concept of the Ghostbusters, but have never been big fans, at least rent the game once. It's incredibly fun even if you're NOT a hardcore fan.
However, if you are a fan (like me) of the movies, the animated series, the toys (ah, the memories), and even the damned role-playing game.... GET THIS GAME. And by get, I mean BUY. This can sit proudly on the shelf next to the movies, because that's basically what it ends up feeling like. It feels a lot like a 3rd film. Only better, because we finally get our chance to project gloriously arcing streams of protons at spooks and specters from our own unlicensed nuclear accelerator backpacks and for what has to be the first time in Ghostbusters video game history say proudly, and with conviction..
"We came, we saw, we kicked it's ASS!"