What's up, Wii owners? I know a lot of times we at IGN get pooped on because we copy a review from platform to platform while only making incredibly minor changes to the text. That's not happening here, but I do want to open this review the same way that I opened my PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 review
-- namely, I want to admit that I'm a Ghostbusters addict
. It's my favorite movie, I own a jumpsuit as well as a movie-accurate Proton Pack
, and I even cried during an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters when Slimer accidentally killed Eduardo... keep in mind that this was a cartoon that aired when I was in high school. Personally, I like the idea of people reviewing games from franchises they love because I feel like they'll be tougher on a property than your average reviewer, but that's my opinion. You're an IGN reader -- you get pissed when a non-fan reviews a game and you get pissed when an admitted fan reviews a game, so there's no way to win.
Anyway, sorry for that bit of redundancy, but I hope you stuck it out because Ghostbusters: The Video Game is actually a very good Wii game.
A female Ghostbuster? Now, I've seen everything!
I know most of IGN's coverage has been focused on the PS3/360 side of the coin when it comes to Ghostbusters, but that's because there hasn't been all that much shown of the Wii version. Luckily, the same basic facts apply. The same dialogue and story that appear in the other versions are used here -- although Wii owners will get some new settings and Ghostbusters lines -- and it all plays out as the third movie in the franchise. It's 1991, three years after the events of Ghostbusters 2, and the boys are thinking big and expanding their team. You'll join the team as either a boy or girl Ghostbuster whose sole assignment is to test out Egon's latest gadgets. Of course, you'll be in the firehouse for less than five minutes when a ghostly explosion rocks the city. Its origin point is a Gozer exhibit in a New York museum, and as the wave of spirit energy sweeps the city, the team begins to get very busy as it delves into a devious scheme.
Of course, with all that said, the actual Wii version of this game is very different from that of the PS3/360. To begin with, development was handled by Red Fly Studios instead of Terminal Reality, and rather than try and match the movie-like visuals of the PS3/360 and 360 version, Red Fly choose to go the animated route. What you're left with is a title that shares a lot of similarities with the Terminal Reality version of the game but feels like its own experience.
I'm sure some will complain that the cartoony visuals are weaksauce, but I for one applaud the decision to go this route. I review a lot of titles that try to just boil the PS3/360 experience down and fit it on the Wii, and that's pretty much a guaranteed way to make a crappy game. Here, the exaggerated facial features and ghosts harkens back the Real Ghostbusters cartoon and actually work with some of the more over the top dialogue choices better than the realistic visuals did on the other platforms. I felt Bill Murray and Alyssa Milano (Venkman's love interest this time around) were a bit hammed up on the PS3, but in this cartoon world, it actually works.
Don't get me wrong, the visuals aren't great -- this thing isn't going to get confused with a Pixar movie due to its muddled textures, blocky parts, and sometimes quirky lip syncing -- but they are way better than trying to make this game look real.
So, yeah, all of the voices you know and love from the movie are in this game -- I'm talking about all four of the original Ghostbusters, the receptionist, and former EPA jerk Walter Peck -- and they help to really drive home that this is the third film for all intents and purposes. The music from the movie is here, the Ecto-1 looks great, and who doesn't love switching on a Proton Pack?
In terms of gameplay, firing off your neutrona wand is what this game is all about. When you first get started, you'll have a Proton Pack to call your own and be set loose on a ton of environments that are yours to destroy. Yes, the table-smashing, book-burning fun and destruction that initially caught people's eye on the PS3 and 360 has been carried over to the Wii and looks great. Holding down the B button and laying waste to a ballroom via the Wii-mote is pretty satisfying.
This tale puts the Ghostbusters under the direct supervision of Peck, so you're encouraged to break as much stuff as possible so that the city has to pay for it and Peck's life is miserable. You can write your name on walls, blow up museum pieces, and generally destroy anything you see.
As you're doing this a circular meter in the left corner is tracking how hot your pack is getting. If it gets into the red, it's going to overheat and leave you defenseless for a period of time. It's your job to monitor the device and ease off it to let it cool down every now and again. Eventually, Egon will give you a few more weapon modes for your pack -- the Slime Blower from Ghostbusters 2 is here as well as a Dark Matter function that can either be a shotgun-like blast or Stasis stream -- and these will come with similar restrictions.
Still, this isn't Tablebusters: The Video Game; you're going to be taking these tools up against a number of gruesome ghouls. When you spot a normal specter, and throw your stream out, you're going to see a little green health bar pop up. You need to unleash your orange and blue light show until that health bar is depleted and turns purple. When that happens, you'll capture the spirit in your ball of energy and need to slam the beast around.
In the PS3/360 version of the game, you could slam at will to daze the ghost and get them in the trap, but on the Wii, it's more of a Simon Says mini-game. You'll have the guy tied up, and an arrow will pop up. You fling your Wii-mote in the direction of the arrow, and the ghost follows suit on the screen. Do this enough times, and the purple health bar will be empty so that you can send the ghoul into the waiting trap (deployed by holding Z and making a bowling motion with the nunchuk).
Usually, a lot of motion controls make me roll my eyes, but I actually found myself enjoying the ones in Ghostbusters -- to an extent. When I needed to slam a ghoul here or keep a bead on a specific slimer, I was all over the Wii's abilities. However, the wrangling mini-game has a tendency to go on a little bit too long. In the Sedgewick Hotel, for instance, if took six slams to put down a relatively low-tier ghost. Keep in mind that these aren't back-to-back slams. You have to wait for the arrow to pop up, slam, wait for the arrow, slam, and so on. These extended battles to take down low level ghouls are a bit much and hurt the pacing of the game.
Another disappointment for me in terms of the control scheme is the fact that the Wii-mote is always tied to your POV. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome point at the screen and use the Wii-mote as your neutrona wand to zap bad guys out of the sky, but I wish that Ghostbusters: The Video Game took a page from the Resident Evil 4 playbook and only gave me that kind of control when I held an aiming button. Personally, I don't always keep the Wii-mote pointed at the center of the TV screen, so it was a pain to be comfortable during a cutscene and suddenly have my girl Ghostbusters spinning to the left when we came back to gameplay because my reticle was off to that side of the screen. This was especially an annoyance when I'd finish a lengthy wrangling battle and have my reticle off the screen after guiding the struggling apparition to the trap.
Again, I'm citing these Wii-mote mistakes in specific instances -- they're big ones for me, but there are still plenty of times the controller is perfect. Case in point: the PKE Meter. When you run into a ghost for the first time, it's a good idea to scan the banshees because this enters them into your copy of Tobin's Spirit Guide. On top of telling you which of your devices is the ghost's weakness and giving you a back story, logging lost souls in the guide and finding the art pages to accompany them earns you upgrades such as faster health recovery and the inability to be slimed. When you break out the PKE Meter, your character will point it wherever you're aiming the reticle. If there's a vision there, you'll need to hold down A to scan and catalog the creep.
Outside of doing research, the PKE Meter will be key to finding hidden ghost doors and the like. With the device armed, you can hold B to drop into a first-person, motion-controlled perspective from behind the PKE Goggles from the movies.
One of the biggest draws for Wii owners will probably be the promise of split-screen co-op. Yes, you can play every mission in the game with a friend on the same system via horizontal split-screen, but it won't change the story or make the team talk about having two recruits (In fact, when you're playing solo as the girl, you'll still get called "he."). It's a nice option, but be prepared for the framerate to take a serious hit. It won't be unplayable or anything, but after running around and blasting ghosts on your own for a while, you'll be used to a pretty smooth experience (minus the odd way your character turns every now and again); that won't be the case when two of you start to play. There will be slowdown.
Sadly, I think that kind of leads to the lasting appeal of the game being not so good. Sure you can play levels with your friends, but these are the same levels you'd tackle on your own. There's no exclusive multiplayer levels, so you're really just left with a game to playthrough once. There are 103 scans to make and 103 art pages to find, but the cool rewards such as the inability to overheat require you to find them all. Once you scan everything and get that perk, what's your incentive to double back and try out that reward?
In terms of little things that get to me as a fan -- OK, as a super-fan -- there really isn't that much because the game went with the cartoon style. What does make my list is the fact that there's no cord connecting the neutrona wand to the Proton Pack (you're just holding a stick and wearing a backpack), you can't pick up traps when they're full, and the Ghostbusters patch on the female character's arm is a mirror image of what it should be. These are the little things that pull me out of the experience and don't make me feel like I'm really a Ghostbuster.
©2009-06-12, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved