Published on August 2nd, 2016 | by Sean Warhurst
Ghostbusters PS4 Review
Summary: The literal definition of a cash grab, this is a blatant attempt to take advantage of the hype surrounding the latest film and prey on the nostalgia of the franchise's fans.
Who you gonna call? Your local game store for a refund or even quite possibly the psyche ward as you’ll need intensive therapy after subjecting yourself to this abomination of a game.
The literal definition of a cash grab, this is a blatant attempt to take advantage of the hype surrounding the latest film and prey on the nostalgia of the franchise’s fans; Ghostbusters makes the critically panned digital title Sanctum of Slime look like a slice of fried gold.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow as Ghostbusters is easily one of my favourite franchises of all time; as a kid, I had a proton pack fashioned out of a cereal box, a huge selection of toys from the animated series and even now I rock out Ghostbusters pyjamas during the warmer months. Despite my adoration of the license, however, I’m hard pressed to find any redeeming qualities for this game to somehow justify its ridiculously over-exorbitant price tag.
Retailing for a mind-boggling $69.95 AUD, the game is so lazily thrown together that you’d honestly still feel ripped off if you’d purchased the game as a five dollar digital title.
You take control of a team of generic characters who apparently form yet another iteration of the famous ghost hunting team. Yep, that’s right, even though it’s technically a follow up to the film currently playing in cinemas, as evident by the brief references to the all-female team and the inclusion of ghosts and even the main antagonist from that film, you don’t actually get to play as Kristen Wiig or Melissa McCarthy’s characters – Instead you have to make do with bland placeholder characters who aren’t even worth giving a name. That’s not just me being dismissive either – The characters literally have no names.
Oh, and if you want to rock out the classic Ghostbusters outfits, get ready to fork out extra for DLC that quite literally just removes the coloured stripes from your characters uniform.
The team is split down the middle gender-wise, with a burly ginger tank and a hipster with a face made for punching comprising the male side and a punky blonde and a wisecracking African-American woman rounding out the team. Each character has their own unique variation on the traditional proton pack, such as the tank wielding a chaingun version and the punky chick dual wielding smaller pistols.
It’s kind of fun to play around with the weaponry at first but you’ll soon discover that hipster douche’s gun is the best all-round weapon in terms of accuracy and damage and will most likely stick with that for the remainder of your playthrough, which is a good thing as, upon completion of a level, only the character you’re currently using actually levels up.
Yep, you heard that right – Despite your AI controlled teammates tagging along throughout the game, they will never actually level along with you, meaning that by the final few stages they’ll be utterly useless, constantly getting knocked down and requiring revives in the heat of battle as they struggle to stave off the ever increasing hordes of enemies. Your character will gain XP points that they can use to upgrade a skill tree, reducing cooldown timers and increasing the damage of their weapon amongst other things, but this does little to mitigate the fact that you’ll be the only character capable of doing any real damage by the midway point of the game.
This baffling design choice also means that you’re left with no real choice but to choose a character and stick with them from the beginning, as switching between them after each stage inevitably leads to your entire squad being woefully underpowered by the latter half of the game.
The action takes place as a top down shooter where you take control of your chosen character and navigate one of six different locations, each with a couple of stages set within them. Each stage runs around half an hour and will see you blasting away at all manner of spooks and cooling off your proton pack whilst also occasionally whipping out your PKE meter in order to locate hidden caches of points; when you spot a purple puff of smoke, using your PKE meter will reveal either hidden glowing circles or tracks that you can follow to gain access to a hidden area and receive one of four collectables.
Certain ghosts will require more effort to catch than your usual cannon fodder, forcing the team to switch to the regular proton streams to capture the ghost and slam them a few times before throwing out a trap. This is achieved by completing a minigame where you have to aim the thumbstick in a particular direction before furiously tapping away at the X button in order to build up your multiplayer before the ghost is sucked into the trap.
That’s literally all there is to the game – After completing the first stage you’ve seen everything that Ghostbusters has to offer gameplay wise. What you’re then left with is an uninspiring slog as you trudge through the generic and empty levels taking on floating skulls, shambling zombies and flying books that repeat ad nauseam. The enemy design is lacklustre and copy and pasted so many times that you’ll want to claw your own eyes out due to boredom after a wave of flying books assault your character for the thirtieth time.
The boss battles at least attempt to add a little flair to proceedings, at least visually, but you’ll soon realise that mechanically the method of defeating them is the exact same one you’ve been employing throughout the stage to wipe out the lower level minions. Even the final boss, taken directly from the film, is disappointingly easy and can be defeated by simply positioning your character at one of the two upper corners of the screen where they’ll be impervious to attack.
The collision detection leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you play as the punky blonde Ghostbuster. The hipster seems to come out the best in this department, giving players yet another reason to stick with him and ignore the others.
Another curious decision is the lack of online multiplayer, meaning that the only way you can play with others is to rope in some poor unsuspecting bastard and force him to sit on your couch alongside you for a local session, most likely as he casts furtive glances at you and re-evaluates just why you guys are friends in the first place.
Graphics and Audio
The bright, garish visuals are cartoonish and look like they were whipped up in a single afternoon. The simplistic textures and uninspired designs fail to inspire any good will towards the game and look literally no better than the graphics of a mobile game. This is a bit of a shame as the illustrations that precede each level are actually pretty cool looking at times and even the cutscenes, as poorly scripted as they are, look like they could have been fairly entertaining with at least a modicum of effort put behind them. These animated cutscenes are few and fair between however, with missions generally assigned via a phone call which is overlaid with a static image. The game runs fairly solidly for the most part, despite some issues with the engine, but a polished turdnugget is, at the end of the day, still a turdnugget.
As for the sound… Well, it really boils down to one simple question: How much do you like Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme song? If you said a lot, then ask yourself another question: How much would you like it after listening to it for upwards of eight hours? Besides a few incidental tracks, that’s the only track you’re going to be listening to and, even as a massive fan of that kitschy slice of Eighties goodness, I was looking for the nearest screwdriver to puncture my eardrums by the time the credits rolled. Auditory violation is the only term that can describe it.
Despite my initial impressions from the trailers I genuinely wanted to like this game. Sure, the price was a bit steep and it seemed to be taking cues from what I and many other fans considered the lesser of last generation’s Ghostbusters games but I was willing to overlook all of this if, put simply, the bustin’ made me feel good.
It didn’t. I’ve never been so disenfranchised with the act of bustin’ as I was with this title. Ever.
Some vocal fans on the internet complained that the latest film was going to ruin their childhoods; well, if entertainment media was somehow capable of actually going back and retroactively destroying your childhood memories, rest assured that Paul Feig’s interpretation of the license isn’t what’s going to do it… It will be this game, printed on a disc made solely of children’s tears and shattered innocence.
To be fair, my children (Five and Three years old) genuinely enjoyed the game and the controls were so easy that they could easily pick up the controller and play; I can honestly say that, without their assistance I’m not sure that I would have had it in me to stick the entire game out to the end in single player.
If you absolutely must get in on some ghostbusting action then wait until Ghostbusters goes on sale, as forking out the frankly ridiculous asking price will definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Honestly, I’d just recommend picking up the game from 2009 that featured the original cast and is considered by many to be the canonical third entry in the original franchise; you can find it for under a tenner and it is a much more faithful and respectful video game adaptation of a revered franchise.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – Action – Adventure
Rating – PG
Game Developer – FireForge Games
Game Publisher – Activision
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst