Disclaimer: A copy of the game was purchased by the reviewer for this critique.
There was a time when movie tie-ins were the norm once a new blockbuster film was released. The quality of these games were always varied, but for the most part, movie tie-ins were simply cash-grabs meant to benefit from the popularity of the film it was accompanying. Over the past few years, this trend has started to diminish. Well, just in time for the reboot of the popular Ghostbusters franchise, Activision has released a game that exists in the Ghostbusters universe that serves as a sequel to the new film.
Unfortunately, there is no saving grace in this Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game. Simply put, this is the worst game I have played this year; it’s also the worst game on the Xbox One to date. The only positive thing about Ghostbusters is that it features the iconic song that Ray Parker Jr. recorded for the 1984 film of the same name. For a game that’s a tie-in, Ghostbusters has very little to do with the movie it’s advertising. A few of the characters from the film are mentioned by name and there is a lazy plot twist that made me roll my eyes because it was an “attempt” to connect the movie and game together, but the overall package is completely uninspired.
In the tutorial mission, the gameplay is introduced to players. The left analog stick moves the character while the right analog stick aims your primary and secondary weapons. The right trigger shoots your gun and the left trigger tosses a character specific grenade that damage enemies within a certain area. The left bumper switches between weapons and the X button allows players to dodge out of the way of incoming ghosts and projectiles. The buttons are fairly simple and after a few ghosts to dispose of, it seems as if Ghostbusters may actually be a fun game, but after the very first mission, it’s clear that every level will just be “more of the same”.
There are two levels in each locale that features a boss ghost that must be captured. All levels follow the same format; explore the environments, find ghosts, “bust” ghosts, capture more powerful ghosts and then trap the boss ghosts. Throughout the six hour campaign, that is literally all you will be doing. The repetitive nature of Ghostbusters wouldn’t be that bad if the game was actually fun to play, but that is the biggest problem. The gameplay is slow, dull, and uninspired. By collecting ecto (this is done by killing ghosts, capturing them, and discovering hidden objects and locations), you can level up your character to move faster, become more powerful, gain more health, and a lot more. Each character will earn ecto at the end of every level, but only the character you are controlling will benefit from the ecto earned. This means that although each character has enough experience to level up, all of that will go to waste at the end of a mission because you didn’t control them.
For a game that becomes increasingly difficult, having characters that are stuck at level one while your main character may be at level 11-12 is frustrating. The remedy is simple and you can replay a level with a different character, but I didn’t feel the urge to go through a level again because none of them stood out. That’s not to say that the game is impossible. I actually never died once throughout the game and that’s because when one of the Ghostbusters falls in battle they can be revived within 5 seconds. There literally isn’t any sort of challenge throughout the entire game. Also, each level takes around 20-30 minutes to complete, but if you’re playing with computer controlled partners (like I did), missions will take a lot longer. The AI characters don’t seem to help when needed and they often die. In fact, the only time that my character fell down and needed to be revived, I thought that the mission would end in failure because all of the teammates circled around me instead of reviving my character.
There is also a cooperative mode in Ghostbusters, but it lacks an online component. There is only local multiplayer and achievement hunters will be upset because one of them requires a level to be completed in 4 player couch co-op. In an industry where many gamers are playing on Xbox Live, I don’t understand why the game would lack an online function. The graphics are abysmal and look like they belong on the original Xbox or at least the early days of the Xbox 360. The audio is also horrendous with very repetitive sound effects, terrible voice acting and the same lines of dialogue on a loop that just don’t seem to end.
As someone who found the Ghostbusters reboot to be an enjoyable movie, I was actually excited to try the latest game based on the property. After all, the 2009 game was awesome. What I ended up getting was one of the worst video games that I have ever played. In fact, I’m upset that Ghostbusters will forever be on my account for my Xbox Live friends to see. In the end, not only is Ghostbusters and insult to fans of the franchise, it’s also a game that will waste your time. There isn’t a redeeming quality in this title and I fear that Ghostbusters will only be the start of more terrible licensed games being developed for consoles once more.