Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered Review
Ghostbusters fans around the world rejoiced in 2009 when Ghostbusters: The Video Game released on console and PC. Acting as the next chapter in Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Zeddemore’s story, the game was heavily favoured and considered the third entry of the Ghostbusters series. For good reason too. The leading actors from the original films returned to reprise their roles. Plus, the now late Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd wrote the script.
Now, a decade later, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered has arrived. The remaster has been helmed by World War Z developer Saber Interactive and published by Mad Dog Games. Even after all this time, the game holds up surprisingly well and still deserves the acclaim it had received when it released last generation, despite some technical issues.
In case you didn’t grab your proton pack in 2009, let’s give you a quick rundown. Ghostbusters: The Video Game picks up roughly two years after the events of Ghostbusters II. Acting as contractors, Venkman and his team have been sitting comfortably as New York City’s defenders of all things spooky and otherworldly. Set in 1991, the Ghostbusters have begun to bring on new recruits, which is where we the player come in. Taking on the role of “Rookie”, an unnamed, silent newbie, you’re shown the ropes and embark on a ghostly adventure with our beloved crew. In the game’s opening moments, you really do get a sense of becoming one of the team. Although Venkman remarks that they “shouldn’t get attached”. The game quickly begins to ease you into a day in the life of a Ghostbuster.
While no surprise, the game is a 10-hour love letter to the Ghostbusters franchise. It’s as if no time had passed between wrapping production on Ghostbusters II and the development of the game. The script is superb and every member of the team falls back into place and meshes exceptionally with the rest of the cast. Bill Murray’s Venkman still has the sleazy, playboy-ish charm, while Harold Ramis’ Egon is still annoyingly brilliant and quirky.
You’ll begin to discover an endless amount of rich Ghostbusters lore and nods to the films as you progress through the game. One of the first levels places you back in the halls and lobby of the Sedgewick Hotel, the site of which our team originally found Slimer. As the new guy, you’ll also get a chance to go toe to toe with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Throughout the game, you’ll use your PKE meter to scan the area for slimes and artifacts laying around. While these act as collectibles, they also help round out the already deep history in the Ghostbusters universe. Scanning the local ghouls will also give you some great insight. The game doesn’t reuse source material for the sake of it. It actually builds off what has already been in place and expands on it in almost every aspect.
The mission structure are fairly routine. You arrive at a location, track down a ghost, and fight through multiple rooms in order to finally nab your main target. During the first few missions, the game hides that loop pretty well as you’re chasing after iconic characters like Slimer and Stay Puft. As time goes on, however, even when chasing members of the Cult of Gozer, it’s clear that the combat leans on repetition. Which truth be told, isn’t much of an issue as the banter between each character is spot on and I could have even gone for more of it.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered has released at a perfect time. While launching to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original, it is also released in a post-Ghostbusters reboot world and on the heels of the next canonical instalment directed by Jason Reitman. You could excuse anyone for looking through rose-tinted glasses when reminiscing their time playing the game in 2009. However, Ghostbusters: The Video Game stands the test of time in many ways.
From a gameplay perspective, the games holds up when compared to modern controls and standards. Using your proton pack continues to handle exceptionally well. You have access to a small assortment of alternative firing modes that may stun the ghost or deal spread-shot damage. Shooting the proton beam at the spectre until it’s weak enough to slam into a trap is fluid and efficient. General controls when it comes to movement are fairly traditional, with the exception of running. For a game like this, the design choice of having a hidden stamina meter still seems odd. The combat can be quite difficult on harder modes. This remains true from the original as once you’re knocked down, you’re at the mercy of your team and must wait for them to revive you. This is if they’re not already down for the count, which happens very often. Cross your streams or get hit by some slime, and your character will bounce towards the ground, the rag-doll physics can show the game’s age.
During gameplay moments, the game looks quite sharp when compared to the original. The shadows and contrast in colours are amplified, giving the environments that much needed revamp. The beams from your proton pack look stunning as do the colour mix of ghosts. Each one is vibrant as they roam through the streets and halls in NYC. However, the cutscenes have been the game’s biggest pain points. It appears Saber Interactive was able to touch it up, but the changes and increase in the resolution are hardly noticeable. The ageing of this game is made apparent each time the cinematics kick in and you take time to look at the facial animations. From an audio perspective, well, you can’t really complain hearing the star-studded cast interacting with each other again. Plus the soundtrack is impeccable.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game came out in the era of low-effort licenced games. Games based on films and comic properties that were only created to cash in on the blockbusters releasing in other mediums. This game was the outlier. It was created with such care and love for the IP. Even 10 years later, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is still one of the best pieces of media in the franchise—sorry Extreme Ghostbusters.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered gave me a healthy dose of nostalgia. I had fond memories playing the game when it first released, and I still found myself chuckling along because of the dialogue. As the opening credits rolled, a touching tribute was made to Harold Ramis, which reminded me that this game is one of the last pieces of media with the group created.
It was great to replay moments of the game, but there were more than a few rough patches that showed the cracks and reminded me that I’m playing a game from the not-so-distant era. If you’ve never experienced the story offered and are looking for true Ghostbusters experience, this game should be right up your ally. Otherwise, the new coat of paint may not be enough to draw you back in if you were already an avid player of the original.
Available: October 4th, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
A code for Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered was provided on Xbox One for review purposes.