Ghostbusters: The Video Game Updated Hands-On

If Bill Murray were in more games, this world would be a better place.

120 Comments

Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the closest thing to a third movie that series fans are likely to see for at least a few years. For anyone not familiar with the progress of games as a storytelling medium, that's an awfully sobering thought. But it's not until you sit down with the game, hear the core cast members like Bill Murray reprising their roles, and chuckle at the script penned by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd that you realize any gap between a third film and this game isn't actually that wide.

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That's what we found out with our latest, most extensive hands-on time with Ghostbusters to date. With the game due out for release next month, we've been given the opportunity to play from the very beginning of the game on through the third major mission. The story takes place two years after the second film. Manhattan has developed another case of the haunting undead, and you'll be fighting them as the newest member of the Ghostbusters crew. Your character is an unnamed, voiceless fellow who serves more as a vessel for you to engage in the action rather than the story. Your lack of any real identity is explained in a pretty clever way when Venkman refuses to bother learning your name after "what happened to the last guy."

You're given a crash course in ghostbusting when Slimer makes a sudden escape from the team's firehouse headquarters. Chasing him down, you're introduced to the basic three-step process of catching ghosts: Zap 'em, cap 'em, and trap 'em. You wear them down with your blast stream by holding the right trigger, and then once their energy level drops enough, the proton pack will automatically switch over to a capture stream, which holds them in place rather than weakening them. From there, you can have fun and slam them all around as though you had them lassoed. But in order to finish the job, you have to throw out a ghost trap and lure them over it with the capture beam to safely seal them away.

Adding a little challenge is the fact that firing a stream for too long will overheat your pack and cause it to short-circuit, which you obviously want to avoid. To do that, you need to hit a button to vent your pack before the little red gauge on your pack gets maxed out (typical heads-up-display elements such as this one are shown on your pack, a la Dead Space). You're given more options for dropping the hammer on ghosts as you unlock new abilities down the road. Some of the ones we achieved in the first three missions were the boson dart, which fires supercharged bursts of energy like a rifle; the shock blast, which sprays a number of dark-matter particles like a shotgun; and the stasis stream, which temporarily freezes ghosts in place.

A familiar roster of faces and voices return for the game, including Bill Murray.
A familiar roster of faces and voices return for the game, including Bill Murray.

After that brief intro at the firehouse, the team is whisked off to take care of ghosts at Hotel Sedgewick, a five-star accommodation for the city's upper crust, which was shown early in the first film. The mission starts off at a fairly slow pace as you and Venkman (voiced by Bill Murray) walk through the building's ornate hallways looking for spirits, but things quickly grow out of control when the ghosts show themselves and lead you on a cat and mouse chase through the kitchen and ballrooms. We particularly enjoyed this sequence for the opportunity to hear Murray's witty dialogue at extended length, which blended well with the action as he sarcastically quipped his way through situations most would consider terrifying.

Later in the level, things take a slight twist toward BioShock territory when a fisherman ghost turns an entire floor into a flooded, undersea wasteland. The water effects here were pretty neat, but it also made the area somewhat difficult to explore. With no map or radar, getting lost was a somewhat frequent occurrence in most of the Hotel level, but it was much less of an issue in the next level: Times Square. Here, wide-open space was the order of the day as we chased after the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It began on the streets of a Times Square littered with destroyed taxis, moved into an office building, and then turned into a rooftop battle. The objective was to keep the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from crawling up the side of the building while we dangled off the side.

After this, it was back to the firehouse for a little plot exposition about the Ghostbusters' troublesome relationship with the local government. The voice acting during these long sequences is particularly well done, and each character bears a solid resemblance to his circa-1980s self. Following that, it was off to the library--a level that the team visited at the beginning of the first film and one that we've previously covered in fair detail.

A Stay Puft boss battle caps off the Times Square chapter.
A Stay Puft boss battle caps off the Times Square chapter.

After going through these first few missions, we were surprised by how much the original film's sense of humor has been preserved in this new format. If there's one thing that remains to be seen, it's how long the relatively simple process of catching ghosts can hold your interest over the full duration of the game. We'll have the answer to that question for you when our review arrives near the June 16 release.

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Ginjarou

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Fellow UK chaps - You can always just import the Hong-Kong version from play-asia.com ;)

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burke3816

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Cant wait for this game I think it is going to be fun. Especially cant wait to see what the multiplayer has in store, especially since I think that is what makes a game.

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CrashOV

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Atari didn't sell anything to Sony. Ghostbusters is owned by sony. Just FYI

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quinnd6

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The way I see it is it was a two way deal so it's not just sony who are to blame but also Atari who sold the rights to Sony to make more money for themselves. It doesn't really matter to them about the gamer and if you're from Europe it's Atari and Sony's way of saying you don't matter. I think I'll do the same as you Dorkslayer with regards to getting it pre-owned if it is any good that is.

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The_Dorkslayer

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Hugely disappointed with Sony. As I am in the UK I will not see this game until at least autumn probably nearer to Christmas. A lousey thing to do to try and sell thier George Forman Grills. I soo want to play this game, however out of principle I will wait for a pre owned copy, just to make sure my dosh does not go to Sony. I know they dont care but it makes me feel better.

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quinnd6

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Apparently it won't be coming out on the 360 in Europe until the autumn. Sony bought the rights from atari in Europe only. So being from Europe that's annoying, unfair and stupid so I reckon I'll probably be giving this one a miss. There'll be a lot of better games out by then anyway I'm sure.

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XtremeX10X

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i never read much into the stories or watched the films but i might pick this up and experience it for myself.

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SilentCard

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This looks so great! I can't wait!

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tekkenitsta12

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the dude said ALL OTHER MAJOR PLATFORMS,but where's the psp?

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Sprizmo

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Yeah man. This game is gonna be a unique experience.

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elroy

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hah, I've never stopped watching a game preview because I was feeling there were too many spoilers until seeing this one. Awesome, I can't wait.

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Sunrie

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Ooooh man...this looks like it's going to be incredible. I'm so glad that the Ghostbusters franchise is back in a GOOD way

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bakagami

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wont be the first time I've played a game just for story. even if gameplay is just adequate it'll still b a blast

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1speedbike

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the game seems promising...seriously even as a game, the controls, dynamics, and gameplay could be mediocre and it'll still be way more than a cheap tie-in if the humor and atmosphere is preserved! the game will be made much more fun just by virtue of the ghostbusters premise and the series original and totally awesome atmosphere and humor!

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HellsKing

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I really don't care if this game is bad. I'm getting it just because I grew up with the first 2 movies memorized line for line. "Yes your honor it's true, this man has no d***."

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bannermanner

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I hope it delivers!

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Wolfman104

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I love the ghostbusters, have done since I was young, but this game looks utter rubbish, I am glad the original cast have got involved with production but I cannot see this rating over a 6 and from that preview I certainly won't have this on preorder.

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Kowpow

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@FartMonkey 65 How does it all look like Gears of War? Anyways, this just doesn't seem like the great game that it was hyped as.

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Fureh

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Looks nice, I just hope the gameplay isn't so repetitive

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FartMonkey65

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It looks like it plays the same as Gaers of War.

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madmax_thegamer

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Looks like it will own! Can't wait, the only problem I can think of is that you will be to busy wrapped up in the action catching ghosts to catch everything the guys say. This and the possibility of another flick give me hope for the future!

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Spider-Jim

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Adrianberggreen , that means that they are homphobes going around catching homosexuals.

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Spider-Jim

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Nice, can't wait. I wish i could have a pet Bill Murray. This will have to do.

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SWORD0424

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Graphics look SICK. Some might say its childish, but thats like saying star wars games are childish. Will this have online capabilities???

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jjwalker9600

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One of my favorite movies. I can't wait for the game

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swamptick

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Very much looking forward to it!

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Adrianberggreen

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GAYBUSTERS!

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NND1

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I Cant Friggin' Wait for this awesome title!!

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backatcha

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Who ya gonna call?

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powerslave86

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Neat! Does anyone know if the PS3 version will make use of controller motion sensitivity? Sorry if I've missed it somewhere... ^_^"

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Lexxurious

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Looks like it could be interesting

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Matthew_B

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Don't call us all childish, even if it is true! Ghost Busters ROCK ON!

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evansdada

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Wow I cannot wait for this game. I remember the Ghostbusters game I had for the atari 2600. My wife will shake her head of course when I get this game, but now that my 5 year old is a Ghostbusters fan too, I'll take the bullet from the wifey any day. :D

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Max_Hydrogen

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Actually it's were because it's subjunctive irregardless of number.

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Max_Hydrogen

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Ah man that looks wicked. Bill Murray is still the man!

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burstlimit514

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This sounds pretty good. A movie based games that dosen't fail? Lets hope for the best.:D

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PSgamer99

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this is very exciting. two good looking licensed games, arkham asylum & ghostbusters. what a rare occurence

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QOSMSTR

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co-op should be good. Bill Murray is a awesome actor

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Pseudoluke

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Same style of Left 4 Dead (in the co-op view)... I think that will be a very good and funny game.

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bloodhook

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Initially, as a fan of the movie I thought this is a must buy. In saying that the game play looks very repetative although the graphics look great. I guess I'll wait for the full review ;)

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XxX_Cheese_XxX

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Can you make your character.?

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boodz86

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looks alright at the moment, will be waiting out for the review :)

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Capncrunch78

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I know this has been said before but You know, the whole thing about the "simple process of catching ghosts", it's a shooter. How repetitive does it get shooting things in other games. It isn't often a movie based game gets written by the original writers, let alone voiced by the original cast. I am a little iffy on the length issue, but we will see. being a fan of the original movie, this one looks like a buy in my book.

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andreipascu

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looks kinda ... bad

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andreipascu

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i hate the damn comercial with the deodorant !!!!! x( x( x( !!!

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banksfree

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The usage of "were" has nothing to do with plural or singular, but actually it deals with subjunctive use of the verb "is". This means it is used when a hypothetical situation is suggested. If I "were" you I'd get my facts straight.

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AriotUK

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It's not, "If Bill Murray were..." it's, "If Bill Murray was..." Bill Murray is one person in the singular, not the plural.

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lyle293

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who u gonna call :D

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lonewulv

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this game looks great. but in the movie, weren't they suppose to avoid making contact with each others proton beams? and especially not hit each other. they just seemed to make contact a lot. they could easily fix that by making it so the beam arcs around player's or people. it would seem natural because the beam loops and arcs anyway.

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slainta

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The only thing that I'm afraid of, is that it might be too short. Apart from that it is supposed to be one of the funniest entertainment experiences EV'R!! ;)

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