by Chris Capel
reviewed on PC
Who You Don’t Wanna Call
A brand new Ghostbusters game, with an original story and an all-new cast. Can this download-only game from Atari be a real Ghostbusters III, or is a disgusting pile of slime? Read on to find out.
There are two types of licensed game: ones that get the license right, and ones that get it wrong. If you capture the license faithfully, then fans will still enjoy the game despite any flaws it may have. Terminal Reality’s recent Ghostbusters: The Videogame had many flaws, but they definitely loved the license and represented it perfectly. Most of the major characters were back (and voiced by their proper actors, even Bill Murray), the distinctive first film’s soundtrack was reused, there were a multitude of in-jokes and references, and you could even cross the streams (which you shouldn’t do).
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime falls into the latter category. It’s a mediocre game that also manages to get the license completely wrong. I was really hopeful developer Behaviour would offer a simpler, fun take on the franchise, but it just manages simple.
I’m sorry, this isn’t your lucky day
The game is an isometric top-down shooter with a heavy emphasis on co-op (supposedly, but we’ll get to that). The four new rookie Ghostbusters enter a room, kill a few waves of enemies, then a door opens to the next room. This is repeated until you reach a boss creature with an obscene amount of health, which you defeat, trap, and move on to the next level. I have just described the entirety of GSOS.
There are three types of weapon which correspond to three colours of ghost – red, yellow, and blue. The red Proton Pack beam only affects red ghosts, blue affects blue ghosts etc. This simple idea was clearly meant to mix the shooting up a bit, but in practice it’s extremely irritating, not to mention totally out of sync with the movies.
Yes, the last Ghostbusters game had four weapons which affected specific enemies, but there was usually a logical reason behind it, not just colour-coding. Furthermore, it was always very easy to change between weapons in that game, unlike here where you have to cycle through them. When you’re being swarmed by enemies of all three colours from all sides it’s an utter pain. Worse though is that apart from firing the only way of telling what weapon your ‘Buster has equipped is a very tiny indicator on the top left, which you cannot look at during combat or you’ll die.
I Ain’t Afraid Of… oh, wait, yes I am
Death comes very, very easily in GSOS. You often have no auditory or visual feedback when you get hit so the first time you notice your character’s health is low you’re already on the ground. AI characters will come and rescue you, and often put themselves in danger to do so. As just one or two hits from even the smallest ghost can incapacitate you, you’ll be seeing that revive bar a lot.
This is made a lot more frustrating by the way ghosts seem to completely ignore AI team members and go straight for you. Having about fifteen monsters of different colours that can knock you out with a touch coming at you and only you, and your team doing little apart from blocking your fire does not make for a fun game. It could really use a dodge button.
The gameplay is incredibly boring. It’s neither tense nor exciting, and there’s no real satisfaction in taking any of the ghosts down, especially the bosses. The only fun bit was when all the Ghostbusters started dancing in rhythm to the theme tune.
The franchise rights alone could make us rich beyond our wildest dreams
The mistakes made by GSOS come thick and fast, but it’s the lack of any love for the films that stings the most, especially after the incredible fan service that Terminal Reality provided. No trapping ghosts. No crossing the streams. No movie soundtrack. Janosz Poha from Ghostbusters II appears but is a villain, whereas he was just possessed in the film. Apart from a “bonus” Slimer there are no ghosts from the films. The original team are barely in it.
That last one blows my mind. When I heard we would be playing a new team in GSOS, I assumed it was for financial reasons. They couldn’t afford to hire the full cast again, so instead of doing poor sound-alikes they’d just get a new cast, right? Nope, because there’s no voice-acting whatsoever. And it’s not because of likenesses either, as the original cast does appear, just not very much. So why the hell can’t we play them instead of these guys nobody cares about?
It wouldn’t have been as bad if Behaviour had made any effort to make the rookie team have distinctive personalities, as Valve does with Left 4 Dead. Would it have been so hard to give them at least biography on the character selection screen? They don’t have any special unique skills or anything.
Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s god-given right
There are two major points that destroy any chance this game has. First of all, without any voice-overs the cut-scenes are all presented as really nicely-drawn comics with some fine writing, but they go on for absolute ages. Seriously, the first one’s about fifteen minutes, and that’s all just you reading a comic. If they’d had been voiced it would’ve been acceptable, but it all becomes boring very quickly. So that’s story out.
Second and worst of all, there are no online modes in the PC version. For a game entirely based around co-op (the last few levels become utterly impossible in single-player) this isn’t just a glaring oversight, it’s an insult, particularly on PC. Unlike other games without online multiplayer, like Lara Croft and Scott Pilgrim, the single-player isn’t worth buying the game for. Even with co-op you’ll get bored of it really fast, and you most definitely won’t stick around for the interminably long cut-scenes.
I really can’t think of anyone who would want to play this mess of a game. Ghostbusters fans will feel cheated, and everyone else will be bored in five minutes. Avoid like a fridge when eggs are cooking on your kitchen counter.
The writing’s quite nice, that lovely bit when the team dances to the theme tune
Dull, no respect for the films, gets tedious fast, poorly designed