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July 8, 2009
Ghostbusters: The Video Game - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
25/6/2009SonyAtariTerminal Reality12-4
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Action out in the streets.
Who you gonna call? Along with "May the force be with you..." and "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" it is one of the most recognisable sayings from a movie and you would be hard pressed to find too many people that don't recognise the very famous Ghostbusters phrase. Despite the original movie being released 25 years ago now it remains a firm favourite among moviegoers with a brilliant mix of action and comedy and, of course a brilliant cast.

In January 2007 the game world was set alight with a teaser video showing a concept Ghostbusters game in development at Zootfly (you can still see it here). It got fanboys the world over very excited, but that project never saw the light of day as Sierra had Terminal Reality working on an officially licensed product. When Activision-Vivendi merged the game was, surprisingly, dropped from their roster with Atari picking up the rights. Then, a month before release, Sony announced they had secured the European rights to Ghostbusters: The Video Game thereby making it exclusive to Sony platforms - for a while anyway. With such a troubled development was the game doomed to fail? Read on...

One of the most exciting aspects of this game is that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis have worked on the storyline and script. The year is 1991 and Manhattan is once again overrun by ghosts and other supernatural creatures, players will take on the role of a new recruit joining the famous Ghostbusters team. Equipped with a variety of unique weapons and gadgets, players will hunt, fight and capture a wide range of supernatural villains in a funny and frightening battle to save New York City from its latest paranormal plague.

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Remember, don't cross the streams!
So this is a third person action game which uses locations (such as the The Sedgewick Hotel and The Public Library) in the first movie as a heavy inspiration for locations in this game. By far the most impressive aspect of this title is the use of likenesses and voiceovers from the original cast including Bill Murray (as Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stanz), Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler) and Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddmore) as well as supporting cast including Annie Potts, Brian Doyle Murray and William Atherton. It adds much authenticity to the title.

The weapons are all inspired from the movie and as you're the "new guy" you get to test new weapons not seen in the movie. They all fit into the universe perfectly and offer different methods to tackle the various supernatural forms. Many of the objects in the world are destructible so you can decide to tread carefully and save the cities coffers from a battering, or go all out and destroy almost everything. Your character is responsive and always entertaining, but we did feel that he did need a voice. While I can understand the developers may have chosen to keep him silent so you can form your own voice for him, given that you can see your character in the cut-scenes and know what he looks like it takes away some of the mystery.

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Taking on a ghost in the library.
So let's get onto the disappointments with Ghostbusters: The Video Game. First of all the length of the game. We completed Ghostbusters: The Video Game in a bit under 7 hours. We weren't rushing, nor taking overly long looking for every hidden artifact or scanning every ghost. Still, that's not long enough in our book. Another big annoyance was the upgrade system for the weapons in the game - I didn't even realise you could upgrade your weapons until almost at the end of the game when I stumbled across it in the pause menu. The number of times you get knocked out by the enemies can also become annoying as you'll spend more time reviving the other Ghostbusters in the game then you will fighting the ghosts. Finally there are some random bugs. On one occasion I loaded up the game, went to Career, only to be given a single option "New Game". What the hell happened to my save game? Fortunately quitting out and restarting saw my save reappear. Thank Christ for that as it happened in the second last level!

We would love to tell you how brilliant the multi-player is in this game but you know what - it's broken. Developed by ThreeWave Interactive rather then Terminal Reality (who did the single player game) the first annoyance is that when you hit the multi-player menu you have to wait for quite a while for that portion of the game to load! When you do finally get to the multi-player menu things aren't much better. Nine times out of ten when jumping into a quick match I get the error message "wrong map version" and then it kicks me to the menu. What the fuck is that? Sony don't have any answers, no patch has been released, so in essence unless you create your own game, which only fails about half the time, multi-player is useless. When you do get the occasional game that works it is fun with different objectives including protecting artifacts, or trapping as many ghosts as possible and so on. Still, I'm not going to wait around in the hope of getting into every tenth game or so.

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Ballroom action from the first Ghostbusters.
The most contentious issue about this game is the visuals. Originally the developers had stated that the two versions would be nigh on identical, and the developers are targeting 1080p visuals at 30fps. There has been numerous articles on various websites that the PS3 version is vastly inferior to the XBox 360 version and to an extent that's true. Despite the developers claims that they were aiming for 1080p visuals some time ago, they haven't even achieved 720p with the PS3 game being rendered at 960 x 540 before being upscaled (allowing them to put the rather dubious 1080p on the box!).

This has caused such a stir that Terminal Reality have even issued a (rather crap) statement as follows: "For the record, the PS3 version is softer due to the 'quincunx' antialiasing filter and the fact we render at about 75% the resolution of the 360 version."). Now I don't know who does their maths but the XBox 360 version is being rendered at 1280 x 720p which, when you do the maths, is almost double the pixel count of the PS3 version (921,600 vs 518,400 pixels - or 56.25%).

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Character likenesses are brilliant.
Anyway enough of the technical babble. The result of all this is a rather soft looking image on the PS3 game - something we would have noticed even before looking at these stats. Of course other factors come into play such as the frame rate and overall look, but on the raw data the XBox 360 version - when it comes out in Europe - is the vastly superior format. That's almost inexcusable given the similar power of the two consoles, that Terminal Reality (apparently) had the PS3 as the lead console, and that Sony have grabbed the exclusive rights to the game for Europe and Australia.

Now, having said that this isn't a total disaster either and there is plenty to enjoy about Ghostbusters: The Video Game. We did really enjoy the character models in the game, the translucent ghosts, and the amount of destruction within the games numerous environments. These environments have been recreated wonderfully from the locations seen in the movies, and those not seen still fit in very will with the 'vibe' of the game. The frame rate is quite solid with only occasional blips here and there.

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Despite the resolution, this still looks good.
There is one word to sum up the audio in this game on so many levels: overwhelming. The first thing that hits you is that the developers did secure the rights to use the classic Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker Jr. from the movies. It sounds tremendous and drags you straight into the supernatural universe set up in the movies. In addition there is over an hour of new music recorded for the game with much of this being unused soundtrack that wasn't used in the movies.

What is overwhelming is the use of the voice actors including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Brian Doyle Murray, William Atherton and newcomer to the franchise Alyssa Milano. It was brilliant to hear their voices in the game with some classic lines from all the characters. Concerns that Bill Murray would have a limited role are unfounded, in fact, he probably has the majority of the speaking and one-liners, or at least the ones that stand out. If anything, there is perhaps a little too much talking at times. Still, we won't complain when it's of such high caliber.

As much fun as I had playing this game I just can't get over the feeling that the troubled development with numerous publishers has affected the end product. Don't be put off by the claims that the XBox 360 version is vastly superior visually, this game isn't the disaster some would have you believe. Still with the broken multi-player, and rather short single player game the only thing that saves this game is the brilliant audio and gameplay which, for Ghostbusters fans, may still make this a worthwhile purchase or a rental at least.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSArtistically excellent this is let down by the sub-HD visuals.
SOUNDThe theme music rocks, the voiceovers are also impressive as well.
GAMEPLAYI don't think we could have expected much more from Ghostbusters gameplay except, perhaps, multi-player that works!
VALUESingle player is a bit short and, to date, the multi-player is broken. That sucks.
OVERALLGhostbusters: The Video Game is a great game the feels like it could have done with a couple more months polish, and improved graphics engine on the PS3. Still it's fun, and Ghostbusters fans will get a kick out of this game.

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