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When I heard that a new Ghostbusters game was in development back in 2009, I wasn’t particularly interested. Then I heard that the game was being created with direct input from the cast and creators of the original films and I became very excited. When the first reviews of the game came out, I became really excited and went out and got it. I remember eagerly waiting while Ghostbusters: The Video Game installed. Once that was done I played through the tutorial and enjoyed the way that Terminal Reality had transferred the Ghostbusters concepts into gaming elements in a clever and accurate way that provided interesting gameplay and appeased fans.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game really was a love letter to the fans of the films and I appreciated it for that. It featured the return of the cast and allowed you to freely explore locations from the film. One of the early levels had you visiting to the Sedgewick Hotel, a location from the first film, in order to recapture the ghost that had haunted it in the movie. This was where it all began to go wrong.
Initially it seemed like everything was going to come together nicely and then I got into an elevator and a few moments later found myself in a corridor being swarmed by small annoying ghosts who for some reason had more health than a boss in a Kingdom Hearts game. I reloaded the game and tried again. Immediately died in very similar circumstances. Kept this up for about another forty minutes before I checked the game’s settings to turn the difficulty down. I discovered to my horror that it was preset to easy. Now I’m not one of those people who play games on easy all the time, nor am I one of those gamers who play everything on the highest difficulty. I generally play things on the normal difficulty became I assume that is the way that developers intended the game to be played.
I gave Ghostbusters a break for a few days and then returned. After much time and effort I finally pushed through and beat the Sedgewick Hotel level. I then started the next level and was immediately got stuck in a sequence in which you get swarmed by both flying ghosts who attacked from a distance and larger land based monsters who charged you. After about a dozen attempts at the sequence I rage quit the game. Two levels in and the game was just too hard. I wondered why and it hit me, the game mechanics don’t quite work. The gameplay was inspired by the films; you had to weaken ghosts, and then capture them in traps. The problem that I found was that the mechanics were fun when there were small numbers of enemies being thrown at you, but rather than gradually increase the number of enemies on-screen over time, Terminal Reality just ramped it up immensely each level. Since you have to weaken and trap each individual ghost, once the enemy count goes over four or so it just becomes too much to keep track of, and the game becomes a bit of a mess.
I really wanted to like Ghostbusters: The Video Game. The problem is that the game is torn between being fan service and being a great game. The mechanics make sense in the setting of Ghostbusters and the game's story is spot on perfect for the franchise, but the mechanics don’t quite work in the traditional gameplay scenarios that make up modern third person shooters.