STAFF REVIEW of Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (Xbox One)

Friday, November 8, 2019.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered Box art Say what you will about the ‘licensed game curse,’ but it was usually pretty easy to find evidence supporting it. For years, the majority of games based on existing properties – be they movies, TV shows or even superheroes – tended to be rushed and mediocre at best. Sure, there were some outliers that went above and beyond the status quo, but there’s a reason why the supposed curse got its legs.

It was during the last generation where we really started to see that more attention was being paid to licensed efforts. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a big part of this, as it proved that giving a superhero title a big budget and lots of development time would pay dividends. The Caped Crusader wasn’t the only character, or franchise, who received more money and attention, though. The Spider-Man games seemed to get better as they went along, Toy Story 3 got a fantastic video game tie-in and so, too, did Cars 2.

More than a decade ago, Terminal Reality and Sony decided to start work on a game based on the Ghostbusters series of films and general IP, after seeing a promising tech demo. The result was Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which saw the light of day in June 2009, at which point it released to generally positive reception.

That very game has just been re-released, and is now available on modern consoles and PC, under the name Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered. This was during a time when Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were trying to develop and pitch another celluloid Ghostbusters sequel, Ghostbusters: The Video Game seemed like a consolation prize of sorts. After failing to get their movie venture off of the ground due to issues with Bill Murray and other things, the team decided to incorporate some of their Ghostbusters III ideas into this game. In the end, they were successful in getting all four actors to reprise their roles in interactive form, with not only Aykroyd and Ramis contributing to the project, but Murray and Hudson as well.

Set during Thanksgiving of 1991 (which would place it a couple of years after the events of Ghostbusters II), Ghostbusters: The Video Game begins with a training exercise. You see, after all of the trouble they were forced to deal with in previous outings, the foursome decided to welcome a new member, who would theoretically help to lighten the immense load. Said newbie, who ends up being an unnamed Rookie character, is who we play as within the game’s supernatural driven campaign.

Things begin innocently enough, but it isn’t long before the proverbial sh** hits the fan, as a pulse of energy engulfs New York City and greatly increases its paranormal activity. Tracing its origins to the infamous Gozer Exhibit, the boys in brown jumpsuits head out to try to save New York from another spiritual infestation. Along the way, they train their rookie member in the art of busting ghosts.

Said campaign takes place over the course of several different levels, which incorporate environments like the Sedgewick Hotel, Times Square (complete with a battle against the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man), the New York City Public Library and an offshore island. Generally speaking, it’s of average length, and is kind of what you’d expect from such a game. However, the added bonus here is that – at least in some respects – the included narrative was intended to step in for Ghostbusters III, which they weren’t sure would ever be made. As such, it’s almost a must play for any hardcore fan of the series, or any child who grew up loving Ghostbusters for that matter.

It does seem that Ghostbusters III will actually happen now, though, after the Melissa McCarthy-led all-female reboot failed to win audiences over. A teaser has even been released. It’s also been ten years since the game was even released, meaning that it’s been even longer since the first attempt to get a Ghostbusters III script written and greenlit.

Over the course of the game, the Rookie must work with the rest of the team to free some of New York’s most prominent landmarks from dangerous spirits, including the aforementioned Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the iconic, green Slimer. This involves using the team’s traditional gear, including a Proton Pack and traps. However, as they progress, the player will unlock new types of streams and other gameplay options, including streams that both slow and tether ghosts. Hell, you even get the ability to slam ghosts from left to right, or right to left, or even up and down. Slamming becomes a useful tactic when trying to trap something unruly.

While it all sounds great, the execution isn’t exactly top notch. That is, at least not in comparison to modern day video games. I remember renting Ghostbusters: The Video Game when it first came out, and also remember enjoying it as I played through the entire campaign over the course of a week or so. My friends were also fans of it. For this reason, I was looking forward to playing this remastered version this fall. Unfortunately, time hasn’t been that kind to this title, and the effort that went into updating it doesn’t exactly jump off the screen.

To put it simply, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is kind of rough, and is more frustrating than I remember it being back in 2009. The third-person shooter controls are cumbersome, the mechanics are feel dated and the visual presentation is unfortunately pretty ugly, especially when it comes to gameplay animations. The gameplay, itself, can also be annoying, as enemies hit hard and knock the Ghostbusters down a lot. As such, you’ll likely get used to running from one member of the team to another, in order to press A to revive them, all while risking being knocked down yourself. Sometimes the Rookie gets knocked down quite easily, but at other times he’s able to take quite a bit of damage before falling and needing assistance.

This thing is also kind of buggy. For instance, during the first mission’s training exercise I became unable to slam the ghost for some reason, and had to restart the checkpoint as a result. The on-screen indicator told me how to slam, and my ally kept yelling at me to do so, but the game just wouldn’t let me. That glitch kind of set the tone for the game, because while I haven’t experienced anything as major since, the whole Remaster has felt lackluster and half-assed.

I hate saying that, but it’s true. This is a pretty underwhelming return of what was once a solid game. That said, the core game is still here and it’s still funny and playable. Thus, anyone who missed out the first time around may want to check this out to make up for it. That is, if they happen to be a Ghostbusters fan. The story remains solid, and there’s some good humour from the iconic cast.

Since I’ve already kind of covered it, I won’t waste more time deep diving into the presentation. It’s far from spectacular, and almost feels older than it is at times. The cinematic cutscenes seem to have received the most treatment, and are better off for it, but the gameplay visuals and audio can be rough at times. Most of all, everything just looks flat and muddy, especially during the Times Square level. The performance also isn’t excellent, although it’s not game breaking or anywhere close.

In conclusion, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is kind of a disappointment. On one hand, it offers fans of the franchise what is still a half-decent game, but on the other hand it feels dated and as if little was done to bring it forward a decade. If you haven’t played this game, you may want to check this version out, because the story has its funny moments and is worth experiencing. However, if you’re someone who’s already played through the original version at least once, it’s hard to really recommend this update.

**This review is based on the Xbox One X version of the game, which we were provided with.**

Overall: 5.3 / 10
Gameplay: 5.9 / 10
Visuals: 5.2 / 10
Sound: 5.3 / 10


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