By now we all know what horrors lurk in the game-to-movie adaptation genre - it's an stained black spot on our beloved medium’s history. Movie-to-game adaptations, however, aren't quite as consistently terrible - some are quite the opposite. For every instance of shovelware licensing (hello, Spider-Man 3), there are genre-defining classics like GoldenEye and The Chronicles of Riddick. The strongest of these titles benefit from having the direct input of the film's creators, who work alongside developers rather than farm out the property.
In 2007, Terminal Reality partnered with Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd on a Ghostbusters game, unimaginatively titled Ghostbusters: The Video Game. This would not only be a direct sequel to the movies, but also feature the voices and likenesses of the main cast. Coming at a time when no cinematic follow up seemed possible, this was incredibly tantalising for fans. It was released in 2009 to a generally positive reception, and was an important step in the revival of the franchise. And now, it returns now to Sony consoles, no doubt to drum up some hype for the currently in-production reboot.
Set two years after the events of the second film, the story puts you in the boots of a new recruit. Your first day quickly descends into apocalyptic chaos as the ‘busters most dangerous enemies return to wreak havoc. This latest outbreak of paranormal activity seems to be a result of the new Gozer exhibit at the Natural History Museum. The mayor of New York enlists the team to investigate and avert another end of the world scenario.
As a faithful adaptation of a beloved series, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is still a massively enjoyable excursion for enthusiasts. Dripping with ectoplasmic fan service, Ackroyd and Ramis’ script is overly nostalgic but builds on the existing lore in charming and exciting ways. Even with the dated visuals, it’s still good to see the original team together again. The voice work is stellar, and it’s great to hear comedy mavericks bounce off each other while your busting spooks. Ray is a precocious man-child, Egon mumbles technobabble, Winston cracks wise, and Venkman is still a womanising sleazebag.
There’s so much here for fans of the movies to pore over, especially in the team's firehouse HQ. You can talk to the painting of Vigo the Carpathian (still voiced by Max Von Sydow), slide down the poles, check employee of the month board (all Venkman), and listen to Janine harass potential customers. Collectables come in the form of artefacts that you scan with the PKE meter to get some extra nuggets of lore. Scanning enemies gives you their Tobin’s Spirit Guide entry, which further expands on the series' mythology.
The design is also spot on. The equipment looks straight out of the films, as does the colourful roster of enemies. Your proton pack doubles up as a HUD ala Dead Space, and the sound of it thrumming and powering on is exhilarating.
It’s a shame, then, that the overall experience is marred by linearity and a repetitive combat system. It gets off to a promising start as you chase Slimer through the first movie's Sedgewick hotel setting. Taking on your first few emanations, proton streams burning massive scars into the walls and ceilings, it really captures the feeling of being a Ghostbuster. Most enemies need to be weakened by your primary fire, then contained within your capture beam and wrestled into a trap. Again, this mechanic feels great... The first few times. But after a handful of hours, it becomes clear that there isn’t much else to the combat.
There are boss battles, but they mostly boil down to the same shoot-grab-capture loop. It doesn’t take long to unlock different fire modes, including slime and stasis variants, but the original setting can dispatch most of the ghosts with ease. Some enemies require an initial blast of a certain fire mode, but then it’s back to the proton stream to finish them off. After purchasing a few upgrades to accuracy and trap speed, fighting the seemingly endless hordes of spooks becomes trivial. There are occasional difficulty spikes, usually resulting from the sluggish camera during busier encounters, but the AI is always on hand to revive you. Even on higher difficulties, the story mode is a breeze.
The length of the levels are the biggest issue, though. There's enough variety of enemies and environments across the story, but some outstay their welcome. The library encounter with the iconic Grey Lady would have been nice as a short boss encounter, but instead it’s a dragged-out slog through flying book-bat enemies and the same set of levitating furniture over and over.
All that being said, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is still a fun, one of a kind title. Running around with the original team and zapping ghosts with an unstable particle accelerator on your back is an easy sell, but the creative team still put obvious effort into transposing the series between mediums. It does feel stretched, which dilutes the value of the combat, but it’s definitely worth going through the whole story.
Aside from a dedication to the late Harold Ramis, the remaster doesn’t offer anything other than a visual touch up. Multiplayer is missing, but the devs are working on a new and improved version of the mode that will supposedly be patched in at a later date.
Some of the visuals haven't aged well, with the facial animations in cutscenes looking particularly janky. The effects of the proton firing modes and the models of the enemies still look great, however, as does the intricate design of your faithful backpack.
Special mention should go to the music and sound design, which alongside the voice cast does most of the work in capturing a sense of nostalgia and making you feel like you're part of an authentic Ghostbusters adventure.
As an officially licensed instalment in a beloved franchise, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is still a resounding success ten years on. But as a third-person shooter with physics-based ghost capturing, it’s a bit one-note. The atmosphere, design, and voice cast are perfect, but the combat peaks early and quickly become a bore. The main campaign is enjoyable enough that it’s worth enduring the repetition, though.