As a rule, Ghostbusters isn't a challenging game, but every so often, the difficulty level veers into frustrating territory. You can take only a few hits before you're knocked out (you can't "die" per se), at which point you have to wait for an AI teammate to revive you. Your teammates are pretty quick to come to your rescue, but during a few encounters, projectiles seem to be coming from everywhere, knocking you over without giving you a chance to avoid them. The game is big on knockback attacks in general, so even if you aren't knocked out cold, you still might take a tumble and have to wait a few moments until you're standing again. The other Ghostbusters will be going through the same thing, requiring you to keep them on their feet while dealing with whatever enemies are at hand. Should you all get knocked out, it's game over. During a few scenarios, you'll be spending more time rushing around reviving downed team members than you will trapping ghosts, so between revivals, waiting for someone to revive you, and getting knocked over, there are a few moments when you don't feel like you're playing the game as much as you're trying to earn the right to do so. These occasions can be all the more annoying when you're in a tight space filled with a ton of objects. You can try sprinting into a better position, but the semi-unmanageable running mechanic, stripped right from Gears of War, is a poor fit for the small environments. A standard, controllable sprint would have been more welcome.
Ghosts belong in a tiny prison.
As vexing as these annoyances are, they're not so prominent that they cloud the experience. While Ghostbusters does have some negative surprises in store for you, there are plenty of positive ones as well. Encountering new enemies is a particular delight, because you can scan them into your database in a Pokemon, catch-'em-all way. You can do the same with hidden artifacts, and those scanned relics will then appear at the fire station that serves as your home base. There's also plenty of supernatural glee within your missions. In one creepy scene, bookcases slam themselves into new positions, which is fun and startling. The destructible environments crumble around you, and the game keeps track of the damage costs (it's amusing to see how much your exploits are costing the city). And chasing Stay Puft through the streets of Manhattan, while not quite as epic as you'd imagine, will still make Ghostbusters fans wring their hands with joy.
The story will take you seven hours or so to finish, depending on how much time you spend searching for hidden artifacts. There is a four-player online component as well, and it's not the throwaway multiplayer you may have expected. Actually, taking your busting online is rather enjoyable, and while the action itself is relatively simple, trapping ghosts with your buddies cooperatively is good fun. The mechanics remain mostly the same as in single-player, though you will choose a weapon specialty before joining the match, and you'll grab alternate weapon modes (they're scattered about as power-ups) within the match. While the nonstandard proton pack modes have limited use, you'll always have your standard proton/capture stream to rely on. There are six gameplay modes, called jobs, in all. Survival sends waves of progressively stronger ghosts; Containment has you capturing and destroying as many enemies as you can within the time limit; you defend disruptors from ghostly attacks in Protection; and in Destruction, you demolish as many relics as you can while under attack before time runs out. The best two modes are Thief, in which ghosts try to steal artifacts that you must wrestle back, and Slime Dunk, in which players compete to slam-dunk the most slimers. In both, the pace is quick and the potential for chaos is high, making for a riotous good time. You can play these jobs on their own or string them into a short campaign in which weapon upgrades remain persistent throughout.
The stasis stream can buy you time.
The production values nail the Ghostbusters vibe. The sound effects in particular are fantastic, from eerie whispers in hotel hallways and groans of bosses to the whooshes and slurps of pulling a ghost into a trap. And while the game isn't amazing from a technical perspective, a vibrant color palette and detailed ghost designs make the story come alive. The character models do a reasonable job of re-creating the actors as they appeared in the films, though their movement and lip synching can be stiff, which makes watching certain scenes a bit uncomfortable. The best battles result in impressive light shows in which the screen fills with multiple streams of blazing light and goopy slime. The frame rate occasionally struggles to keep up on all three platforms, and while there are some minor differences among them, the game looks colorful and attractive regardless of which version you choose.
Ghostbusters The Video Game has some drawbacks, but those sour notes can't spoil a game that, by and large, tickles the funny bone and hits all the notes a Ghostbusters game should. If you're a fan of the films, or just like a little bit of supernatural fun, there's no need to glance about furtively when picking up your copy. Instead, hold your head high, confident that you've spent your money on a fun game worthy of its beloved license.