Ghostbusters is one of my favourite films of all time. Straight away, I am already the intended audience for this game. The 1984 original film oozes with its own identity that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. Then Ghostbusters 2 came out. A soulless sequel which lost the charm of the original. While moments of greatness gleamed through the cracks, it was ultimately a highly flawed studio production. Never did I think I would find a sequel worthy enough to bear the name.
Then 2009 came.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game released on Xbox 360 around the world five months before it hit the UK due to a publishing fiasco. I imported an NTSC copy as it was made region free to combat this. Avoiding any sort of gameplay, reviews or previews, the game finally arrived. Within half an hour, I was in love.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered puts you in the shoes of the nameless protagonist known as “The Rookie”, who has recently joined the Ghostbusters team. Featuring the original voice cast, Ghostbusters fully immerses you in its world. Tasked on stopping the threat of Gozer (the original demi-god antagonist from the first film), the game is segmented into linear levels which embrace the nostalgic spirit of the films.
To me, this is the official sequel to Ghostbusters. While it can be argued the game heavily relies on its movie counterpart for cheap nostalgic thrills, it’s the script that really shines. Venkman has the same goofball charm, Egon retains his nerdish qualities, Stantz infuses his excitable attitudes to the world around him, and Winston still remains as happy as ever to be there. As a silent protagonist it’s up to these four characters to carry the narrative and their quality voice acting shines through.
Much of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is linear. Environments don’t beg to be explored, but serve as window dressing though the 10-or-so hour adventure. Classic landmarks from the film such as the firehouse and the Sedgewick Hotel are wonderfully realised as destructive playgrounds. With the franchise famous proton pack, it’s going to be hard not to cause damage to the environments. Objects explode and shatter with such joyous glee that crafts a satisfying punch to the combat.
Ghost-wrangling remains as ferocious as ever, with a constant selection of upgrades available for purchase to assist you. Each enemy requires a stream of energy from your pack to wear it down, before being able to hold it down and capture it into your deployable trap. The AI tries to remain vigilant and assist you in these encounters, but more often than not become a hindrance. They become easily distracted by another enemy or require the need to constantly revive them on higher difficulties. When all the components come together though, there is nothing that makes you feel more immersed than being able to accompany your favourite characters on this adventure.
Much of the levels are broken up with exploration sections between its explosive combat. With your PKE (psycho kinetic energy) meter, you’re able to further put yourself in the shoes of a Ghostbuster by being able to track the spirits down yourself. This helps to break the pace up of the more chaotic moments and allow the atmosphere to seep through.
These sections also contain a genuine creepiness; placing you into a first person perspective you’re tasked to investigate the environments, analyzing clues and following trails to find your next target. Ghostbusters was always about blending elements of horror into its comedy and these segments complement that. Eerie atmospheres and a few unsettling character designs (I’m looking at you, Candelabrum Crawler’s) manage to infuse a small sense of playful dread.
The interactivity in the environment is further presented via a wealth of Easter Eggs and fun little interactions that showcase the love that went into this game. Every detail is clearly defined as fan service, but not overbearing enough that it loses its identity. Ghostbusters is a game that balances nostalgia with a brand new story.
Being a remaster for the Xbox One, Ghostbusters is host to a plethora of upgrades. The 4K enhancements on Xbox One X consoles look great, with a sharpness to the whole affair. What is perhaps the most notable change is the upscaling of the lighting system. Shadows dance beautifully against the light as bulbs swing across the ceiling. Dimly lit corridors are given an extra level of mystery as a foreboding sense of dread fills the air. It gives the whole game the layer of polish needed. The game also runs at a steady 60 frames per second and gives the high octane action sequences the fluidness they need.
Pre-rendered cutscenes are unfortunately left as they are, which makes for a jarring difference between the 4K resolution. The 4K enhancement also highlights how ugly some areas of the original game are and they haven’t held up over the years. For what it’s worth, the game is the exact same experience that was available in 2009, bringing with it all of what worked and what didn’t. But the enhancements are a welcome addition to encourage a new audience.
It’s also worth mentioning that this release comes without the multiplayer component. The multiplayer was a surprisingly fun mode which saw co-op scenarios presented to a group of players. It’s a shame that this hasn’t been included in the remaster, but the incredible campaign and budget price more than make up for that.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered on Xbox One remains as fun and nostalgic as it did in 2009. With punchy combat, creepy exploration and a hilarious script that’s beautifully voice acted, it’s hard not to recommend this Halloween treat. The 4K enhancements add a layer of freshness to the game, but Ghostbusters ultimately adds nothing new to the table. If you’re a fan of the original or have never experienced the video game equivalent of a movie sequel, there’s never been a better time.