Movie tie-ins. Two incredibly foreboding words. Quite often they butcher a movie that’s already butchered a great book. In this case, developers FireForge take a stab at the tying-in a twin-stick action game into the recent Ghostbuster film, a reimagining of the classic 80s comedy flick. Of course I loved the original Ghostbusters. I also rather enjoyed this year’s iteration, but alas, the Ghostbuster video game fails to break the curse of movie tie-ins. The new Ghostbusters crew from this year’s movie are away on a mission of their own, leaving an unfamiliar gang in New York to deal with any other paranormal events that may crop up. Obviously, a couple of unusual, ghostly appearances trigger a larger pandemic which this motley crew left to mop up arena after arena. Not much really happens from there. “Oh no,” various landlords say, “there’s ghosts at my location and I need help.” And, so I would reluctantly come to the rescue and repeat the exact same process over and over again with little reward.
Characters are archetypal, voice performances are flat. Despite an initially promising premise – and by that I mean “at least it’s tied into the universe despite being horribly cliche” – the story doesn’t become interesting. The game’s art design is possibly the best thing going for this game. It’s overly stylised, goofy and over-the-top, fitting for the source material. The various locations each have a unique look which I appreciated, but there is not much variation in level design.
The Ghostbusters theme was obviously incorporated into the game, but some of the other classic Ghostbuster tracks were sadly omitted in favour for a largely unmemorable soundtrack. The overall sound design is uninspired, sound effects don’t really create much in the way of an immersive atmosphere and again the voice acting is bland. I was initially hopeful that a twin-stick approach to this game would mean at the very least solid gameplay. It starts relatively promisingly as well, introduce some interesting ghost hunting mechanics, hiding some secrets and collectibles and centering around a minor and major boss structure.But then it introduces little else. Monotonous levels continue for thirty minutes with little difficulty scaling across the games. The game asks very little of you in finding secrets or approaching enemies any differently; virtually any ghost I encountered I dealt with the exact same way. Whether is be a minion, a minor boss or a major boss. You point and shoot, then throw down your trap and smash ‘X’ repeatedly. Riveting stuff right?
The characters, stereotypical as they are, introduce a class system that would have been more interesting had the gameplay been more interesting. I like to think I give credit to a developer where it’s due. I also try to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they’ve made a bad game, perhaps there’s an element of potential there. Sadly however, FireForge really aren’t proving themselves with Ghostbusters.
It feels like a quick, cheap, typical movie tie-in. It’s not inventive or inspired in an way, shape or form. Let’s be clear, this is the kind of game you would buy your kid for a few bucks on their phone. It may keep them amused for a car drive but they’ll look back in years time and regret ever spending any time with.
It’s time we treated quality source material with greater respect than this.
The PS4 version was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.