The dreams of thousands, nay, millions of twentysomethings came true recently. Despite delays, a publisher change and a few holdout actors, the Ghostbusters are back, two decades after their last film. And while the PS3 and 360 get the more lifelike and filmic interpretations of the foursome, Playstation 2 owners get a version that at least delivers the abridged essence of blasting and reeling in supernatural troublemakers.
Above: Visually identical, this is a Wii screen
The game picks up in 1991 (two years after Ghostbusters 2), the gang has just hired a trainee to work with them in their newly state-sponsored paranormal investigations. You play as the unremarkable and silent new hire as he follows the guys around on missions, and as many ghouls old and new start popping up in New York City and heralding the return of the team’s old nemesis Gozer, it's a baptism by fire for the new kid. And while his constant silence is distracting at times, it leaves the jokes and the explanations to the actual stars.
You're outfitted with the standard Proton Pack and Trap that appeared in the films, streams and all, but you also get all these newer, experimental weapons made just for the game. PlayStation 2 owners will miss out on upgrades and motion-sensitivity, and the Wii's co-op feature is nowhere to be found, but they'll still enjoy the most straightforward point-and-shoot sensibility of any edition of the game. Whether you're scanning ghosts with your PKE meter or wrestling them into traps, it's all just a matter of keeping your targeting reticule over your enemy, and trying not to let your proton pack overheat. Occasionally the camera will plop itself directly behind your character for a few moments, but only the fastest of the critters will give you much trouble.
Above: Wii screen
The whole look of the world is evocative of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon from 23 years ago (jeez, we're old). It's a good fit for the system, in that it’s not too visually taxing and works better for the kids that are more likely to pick this up. All the guys look relatively close to their real-life counterparts, except for Ray, whose head looks like a beige marshmallow. We wouldn't call the dialogue hilarious, but it has more than a few giggles. And, probably thanks to the deeper-than-normal involvement of the franchise’s creators, the characters and situations just feel right.
Now, if the PlayStation 2 isn't your only console choice, you should know some of the key differences between the different versions. Aside from the obvious downgrade in looks, some of the more complicated monsters are lessened in the translation. Each version has some exclusive levels and scenes, though the 360/PS3 ones keep more of the PG-13 feel the movies had, but the PlayStation 2 version is the shortest of the bunch. And it's not just the look that changes between versions; the PS3/360 versions also show off an amazing volume and density of destructible items in each level that the PlayStation 2 just can't match. So unless you're determined to bust ghosts for under $20, or don't have any other choice, you'll probably want one of the fancier versions.
Above: Wii screen
Ultimately, this game is a true celebration of all things Ghostbusters, and fans shouldn't wait to get this if the PlayStation 2 is all they have. For those with little love for the series, it's still a good action game, even if the no-frills levels and abbreviated campaign are bound to leave you feeling like you're sitting at the kids' table while the adults feast.
Jun 23, 2009