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PLATFORM: Wii (reviewed), PS2
ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER: Red Fly Studios
Atari was kind enough to send over review copies of both the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, so I’m in the unique position of having played through both at roughly the same time. It’s been Ghostbusters week at the Riviello household. Add in back to back viewings of both flicks and you’ve got a man who’s been walking around humming “Dah dah, dah dah dadah!” and being threatened by lawsuits by Huey Lewis. AND the News.
Check my review of the Xbox 360 version here if you haven’t already. Both games follow the same story with the same voice acting, but each was done by a different developer and have ended up quite different. Everyone usually looks down on the Wii versions of big titles as the throwaway title to pick up some bucks from the kiddie market but right from the start I realized that something was off… could the Wii version actually be the superior one?
The story is just as lame as the next-gen versions, but it’s actually been improved a bit through the cartoony style used in the game. You’re the Ghostbusters’ new recruit, and you can play through the game as a silent guy or gal. Rather than playing everything seriously they have a bit more fun and imagination with the cutscenes, and it manages to make Murray’s weirdly quiet and subdued performance better through reactions from the other characters and funny animations. You get to see Venkman actually sitting down drinking coffee when you’re fighting off Stay-Puft the first time, for instance.
If you want to hear Murray’s dialogue, turn the volume up.
It’s also more cinematic, amazingly enough. The camera moves around quite a bit and makes the scenes much more watchable than the cut and dry next gen versions.
Playing through this again made me realize what I would have preferred in a Ghostbusters game- an episodic experience. Rather than another goddamn “Evil entity trying to destroy the world” story it would have been awesome to just follow them around for a week on their regular busts. If there ever is a sequel…
Here’s where the game really starts to shine. The Wii remote lends itself so naturally to ghostbustin’, and you’ll find it easy to maneuver around the world and aim at the ghosts with the usual nunchuck/remote combo. It’s very simple- all you have to do now is knock down a ghost’s life bar with your beam till they’re susceptible to your capture stream. Grab onto them and you’ll be directed to swing the Wii remote in various directions (up, down, right or left) and smash the ghost around the room until they’re stunned enough to capture. Then you throw out the trap by holding down the Z button on the nunchuck and Wii-bowling it towards the ghost. It’s simple, easy, and quite fun. It does get repetitive after a while to smash the ghosts around and you’ll feel like you’re just going through the motions by the end, though, especially since your teammates don’t really help you out and you have to do everything yourself.
You’re given the same experimental weapons in this version (easily chosen on the remote’s d-pad) with the exception of the Meson Collider, but that one was fairly useless anyway. But your “Dark Matter generator” is great for shotgun-like blasts and a stasis stream to stop enemies in their tracks, and the slime gun is used to get rid of that pesky black slime, as well as allowing you to manipulate objects in the environment.
The upgrades come to you naturally at points in the game, rather than you getting cash for busting ghosts and purchasing them mid-mission, which was ridiculous. (Yeah, I’m looking for realism in my Ghostbusters game, fuck you.) All of them are useful and you’ll find yourself switching through them quite a bit. The guns don’t require as much reloading and are fairly powerful, which makes the game both easier and less frustrating.
There are a few other Wii-specific actions, such as when you get
slimed. Shake your nunchuck and you’ll shake it off like a dog.
While the game uses mostly the same locations as the next-gen versions, the level design has been improved exponentially. No longer are you simply going down one path, there are multiple ways to your goal, different objectives to handle in the order of your choosing, and most importantly, puzzles! Yes, there are some nice brainteasers here that change up the gameplay quite nicely. Lots of them involve you wrangling and manipulating objects with your proton stream, but there are some that are really quite clever and will make you stop and think for a second on how to advance. You’ll use your PKE meter and goggles quite frequently to see things not visible to the naked eye, and if you’re stuck with no idea where to go you can even follow a ghostly trail, something sorely missing from the other versions of the game.
Along the way you can cause millions of dollars in destruction. Course it’s not as pretty as the other systems, but it’s cool for two reasons. Firstly you can find pages to “Tobin’s Spirit Guide” by breaking everything in sight, which when combined with scans taken with your PKE can give you a full look at all the enemies and characters in the game. Secondly, at the end of the level a bill for all your destruction gets handed down to Walter Peck. Nice touch.
What it all boils down to is that you actually feel like you’re exploring and hunting for ghosts, rather than being hurried down a linear path. If this game could have been combined with the great visuals from the next gen versions, gamers would have been a helluva lot happier with the turnout.
Now obviously the Wii can’t output graphics that are anywhere near the quality of the next-gen systems, so they decided to eschew realism and go for a cartoony look. It was a smart idea. Big bright and colorful, the caricatures of Ghostbusters work really well and the game on a whole has a much more lighthearted feel to it. It doesn’t try to scare you like the other versions, but it does throw more interesting character designs your way- someone on the art team was definitely a Lovecraft fan.
The bosses are a lot more fierce than they look, but keep in mind that your teammates are useless.
The music, sound effects and voice work are the same among all versions.
One other thing the game has over the 360/PS3 versions is a lot of loading screens. The levels are broken up into bite-sized chunks, anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half hour long. Each section is named and comes complete with a title card and they’re not too long, but it’s still a bit irritating when they come as fast as they do.
While there’s no online multiplayer, there’s something far greater- splitscreen co-op! That’s right, you can play any mission in the game with a friend by your side. It makes the game much more entertaining and encourages repeat playthroughs.
CHUDTIP- Playing with a buddy? Destroy everything… you’re working together, but competing for a score.
The game also took me a bit longer to beat (7 hours), and it allows you to replay any mission to try and get all of the scans and pages for the Spirit Guide to unlock a few extras. That’s not a tremendous amount of incentive to go back, but certainly better than the lame online multiplayer the big systems get, and you’ll want to replay the levels when friends come over.
A very easy game (I didn’t die once) that’s still not perfect, but it manages to be a much more solid and enjoyable experience than the next gen versions. It’s amazing what some good level design can do for a game.