With the film reboot in the works, FBT shows this remastered prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.
I missed the original release of Ghostbusters, so when the remaster was announced I was Louis-Tully-seeing-Dana levels of excited. Sadly, both Louis and Dana are missing but otherwise the gang’s all here - and so am I. I love this plan, I'm excited to be a part of it!
After an unexplained ectoplasmic pulse ricochets over New York and causes ghosts to start behaving even odder than usual, New York’s premier paranormal pest controllers hire a newbie and investigate, discovering Ivo Shandor, the guy who built Dana’s apartment to invoke Gozer, might be trying to finish his work from beyond the grave.
Besides the original Ghostbusters doing their voices, we also have Annie Potts as Janine, William Atherton as Peck and even Max Von Sydow reprising the voice of Virgo’s painting hanging in the GB HQ, while Venkman’s new love interest (how dare he) is played by Alyssa Milano (fair enough). Those voices and the solid attempt at mo-cap really add to what Ackroyd claimed is technically Ghostbusters 3, and it feels like a movie; the back and forth between the Busters, the reveals, the careful plotting; I feel like I’m in the Ghostbusters - the only problem is busting doesn’t make me feel good.
While it’s a pure GB experience in the cut-scenes, to play it’s often a bit tiring and samey. You spend an age getting through a level waiting for a cut-scene instead of enjoying the busting, waiting for the game to catch-up with the plot, and while we have an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on our back, we might as well be armed with a fishing rod.
Trying to wrestle the ghosts into a trap is like playing a fishing sim. You have to compensate for the ghost’s movement or they’ll break free, then blindly guide it over a trap, while it gets stuck behind furniture or out of bounds or a fellow Buster gets in the way and blames you, yelling don’t cross the streams. I know!
It’s fun at first but becomes a bit of a chore, especially when there’s a lot of them floating about, and while upgrades can make it a bit easier, it shouldn’t be such a drag; when you add in all the proton streams flying about, traps being opened, destructible environments, Venkman being cool about it all, it’s like looking at a hangover.
Added to which is a sort-of shooter element; smaller ghosts can just be vaporized and while they’re a lot of fun - inanimate objects like light-fittings scuttle about, books snap at you, gravestones animate, sticky marshmallows … they get under your feet when you’re trying to land the big one. There’s also an infuriating element where you can use the beam to move objects and obstacles, which is insanely fussy; and lazy - just move the chair.
As the recruit, we’re constantly sent into dangerous areas, asked to be a lab-rat and never called by our real name (Venkman doesn’t want to get too attached after ‘what happened to the last one’). You’re paid for each ghost you bust, and use it to fund Egon’s research into better weapons like the Slime gun from GBII amongst other things, but we’re not really contributing; we're so in the background we might as well be playing Winston.
The middle section does suffer from padding, but they seem to be aware of it; while it’s the same experience level after level they change it up by having us sucked into the ghosts’ own realms - an early return to the Sedgewick sees us in a Bioshock-like world chasing a fisherman ghost and we investigate a phantom nicknamed the Black Widow - a name she takes literally ... exploring Sandor’s hidden island is cool, and that it links GBII’s Slime into Shandor’s plan and creates a trilogy is great, but as a game it takes a while to regain that initial ‘I’m a Ghostbuster!’ feel, and the final level, where we fight animated Egyptian-style mannequins is more shooter than buster.
Some of the mid-game fatigue might be down to the opening levels being so good - recapturing Slimer (who manages to slime Venkman again) is awesome, and it’s a ballsy move making Stay Puft the first boss we encounter. But it sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the game.
Still, even with the middle section and busting frustrations, Oh My Gozer this is a underworld of fun. Objects move out the corner of your eye or levitate, and levels often see you having one-to-one time with a single Buster, who are exactly how you’d hope - Egon is dour and techie, Ray is excitable and full of chat, Winston can’t believe he’s ended up doing this while Venkman is pure Bill Murray. The cut-scenes often reference shots from the movie while the script and settings are rammed with jokes, references and homages; it even finds time for a few barbs thrown at the franchise itself with comments on Stay Puft becoming over-commercialised and spin-off animated TV shows. A level where we finally try to bust the Lady in the Library, who infuriates Ray by continually shushing him is a standout.
It might be a drag playing Ghostbusters, but being one is great; idling in the Firehouse between missions where Winston whiles away his time playing the infamous NES Ghostbusters game (“Go relax our heroes!”), chatting with a put-upon Janine and taking the piss out of the GB’s new oversight boss, none other than Peck really does make you feel like part of the gang and once the story gains some speed, it’s just really great fun.
I have no idea how this compares to the original release, but it holds up as well as any 2019 game; we came, we saw, we kicked it's ASS!!