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Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good: Clichés aside, Ghostbusters delivers franchise fun 

click to enlarge choose  the form of your destructor.
  • choose the form of your destructor.
choose the form of your destructor.Dear Garrett,

I cheered when I saw your name listed atop Atari's credits as "Producer" of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Congratulations on getting such an important job on such a high-profile project, and bravo for playing a part in the development of the defining art form of the 21st Century. It's always great to see a friend succeed.

It must have been a finicky job. I noticed multiple companies credited with the development of the game. Unfortunately, having one company design the main game and another design the multiplayer missions kept the multiplayer gameplay segregated from the storyline in a way that didn't feel Ghostbuster-y at all. Everyone knows the Ghostbusters are a group. Their camaraderie is what made the movie so charming, and I regretted having to play through the campaign with nothing more than computer-controlled comrades on my side.

Do you remember in college when we were on crew-you in varsity, me in junior varsity-and I had to join your boat because one of your boatmates was too drunk to compete? I was out of my league with you guys, no matter how hard I rowed. Well, playing with the computer-controlled Ghostbusters felt like that, only this time I was the only competent one. The Ghostbusters rarely helped me with the enemies that I was attacking, and they were remarkably slow at taking down ghosts on their own.

I read in an interview where you described this game as "Gears of War-lite." That might not have been the best choice of words. It gave no idea of how challenging the actual ghost-battles are. Airborne enemies are much trickier to track than foes who are sitting on the same plane as me. Pursuing the swooping spooks with my proton stream while leaving a trail of charred furnishings was a blast. The mayhem meshed perfectly with the combat, and made the bustin' feel good.

I also found that wrangling the ghosts into the trap was much trickier than I expected. It really did feel like I was tugging a conscious entity against its will into a shoebox-sized prison. And the ghosts themselves looked great. Translucent and glowing, they were better special effects than the ones in the movies.

Not many games tackle such active, 3D combat, nor do it with so much polished style. So I'm looking forward to your next project. Give me some heads-up when you know what it is, and write when you can.

Best, Marty

THE GOOD: P.S. Congratulations on getting all the original actors to provide the voices for their characters. Did you get to meet Bill Murray? His one-liners are still the comic highlights of the dialogue.

THE BAD: P.P.S. After a listless sequel and a lifeless cartoon, most of the good Ghostbusters jokes have been used to death. But here they are again, haunting this game like ghosts from a funnier franchise. Couldn't you have asked Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to write something amusing or at least original?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite its brief, linear length and overreliance on overused Ghostbusters gags, the videogame is enlivened by plenty of free-floating, kinetic combat and a solid visual style.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game ★★★✩✩
Rated Teen; Windows PC, 360, PS3


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