In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the comedy classic Ghostbusters, stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson have reprised their roles for a videogame version: Once again, they play a ragtag unit of specter-battlers who use cheesy tech and even cheesier one-liners to bag their otherworldly quarry. You play as a rookie hired as “Experimental Equipment Technician.” It’s your job to test Egon’s latest Proton Pack upgrades, including the Shock Blast, Slime Tether, and Meson Collider. (Don’t ask.) True to the source material, only four Ghostbusters are allowed out on any given call, meaning the game is always cooking up a lame I’ll-stay-behind excuse for the remaindered member. More often than not, it’s Ernie Hudson.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game blatantly cribs from the Gears Of War playbook, with the camera taking the now-standard Marcus Fenix over-the-shoulder point of view. Similarly, the game’s early missions are almost too familiar to anyone who’s seen the movies. You’ll have to recapture Slimer, re-fight the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and battle the Librarian. For the first few hours, the game subsequently feels like it’s traveling in the wrong direction, covering well-worn narrative ground. Once it leaves the confines of the movies, it improves remarkably.
Single-player mode clocks in at 15 hours, which is five hours too long. And the game isn’t challenging, it’s downright difficult. Still, once Ghostbusters finds its stride and branches out into scarier, more surreal territory, it evolves into a surprisingly serviceable homage to the film.
Beyond the game: Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver are the only principals not appearing in the game. Also, Ramis and Aykroyd scripted the game. Probably because of their star power, they were allowed to play out long, expositional sequences where they riff endlessly with Murray and Hudson, to the game’s detriment.
Worth playing for: Wrangling ghosts into those vacuum-boxes is extremely satisfying.
Frustration sets in when: You encounter a handful of incongruously difficult levels.
Final judgment: The game does a great job of capturing the movies’ camaraderie and us-vs.-them spirit. It’s the best Ghostbusters game of all time, though that really isn’t saying much.