Ghostbusters PS4 [REVIEW] | Bustin’ One Out

Quietly put out as a sequel to the 2016 Ghostbusters movie (the mediocre one people went on harassment campaigns for), this is a budget release through and through, but it’s Activision publishing it, so of course they sold for 60 bucks as its MRSP. Must squeeze all the money out of this licensed cash grab shit-turnip as we can before people notice or stop caring about Ghostbusters.

Or until we release a remaster of the WAAY better (flawed, but still WAY better) Ghostbusters game on PS3/X360/PC. Which just happens to be free on the Epic Store, i didn’t even plan this, but at the time of posting, it’s still given away for free on that platform/store, so i’d recommend nabbing it.

Story wise, i wasn’t joking, this is a sequel to Ghostbusters 2016 (later re-titled as Ghostbusters Answer The Call), as it basically aknowledge the events of that movie, and follows a new, “junior” team of Ghostbusters that want to be like the one in the movie, a junior team who have been waiting for a reason to proton-blast some ghosts in the face, who happens to also meet some of the ghosts seen in the film. The initial cinematic looks a bit cheapish, and the dub is fairly bad, as in (at least in the italian dub, it’s fully localized in italian and i guess other european languages) the characters seem to speak from a submarine radio despite being in the same room (and this happens a lot even in the stages, where they are all there), and far from “socially distanced”.

Most of the context for each mission is given in a cheap slideshow of still character art with voice acting, and while this isn’t, the nail in the coffin is the dialogue, which is cringey as hell. Just embarassing, with all characters trying to be witty and “modern”, and by that i mean someone thought having them quippy and semi-annoying on purpose was a good choice. Even at face value they are more annoying than charming, more generic than memorable especially because of the terrible jokes and small talk they make during levels, to say nothing of the incredibly limited pool of things they say when you clear an area or do anything.

Look, even Brook from One Piece has better ghost-bone puns and gags than this game, which is saying a lot. And i love One Piece, but jesus, i would take his brand of “undead jokes” (and i hate those) over the dribble these non-descript characters say.

That aside, calling it a story feels hyperbolic, as it’s a jumble of ghost spooking places, the Ghostbusters going there to fix it by catching the “boss ghost”, often with dialogues that directly mentions events of the movie, like the concert scene haunting… because they need to remind you of that movie, and they do at every chance, because cashgrab. Narrative is very loose, and even by the end, and when they aren’t spouting cringy quips or sucking up to the Ghostbusters’ team of the 2016 movie (and i mean it, this is just sucking up), it comes down to the return of Rowan, the villain of the 2016 film.

How does he comes back? Who knows? Who cares? He does, and you defeat him again, the town major takes all the credit, the protagonists do a mid-air freeze-jump for the newspaper and bootlick the “girls team” once again, all in the only other badly animated cutscene (then again, i expected a budget game like this to just have an opening and credit cinematic cutscene). FIN

Doesn’t even bother to sequel bait, but then again, this might be a plus, since the 2016 Ghostbusters movie did at the very end, and we’re probably never gonna see that, given Ghostbusters Afterlife is a thing. I’d just stop with these movies, bit tired of Ghostbusters as a thing, but the nostalgia crowd won’t milk itself…. not in a way that directly puts box office revenue for Sony in exchange for movie tickets, anyway.

For the record, i never played Ghostbusters: Sanctum Of Slime (which had terrible reception, was digital only and has been delisted from all digital stores years ago), so don’t expect comparisons.

It’s a twin stick shooter, with a cooldown system, and while far from ideal to have in a game like this… it’s no Contra Rogue Corps. Mind you, it’s not much better, but it’s not that trainwreck, the game actually accounts for the cooldown system being there, which makes for… a fairly limp and slow twin stick shooter. Guns aren’t that satisfying to use, especially the shotgun equivalent is lacking impact, but they are functional, even if it’s odd how the proton ray weapon works better than the main character weapon against some kind of enemies, and not just ghost you can actually catch. It’s so random, because sometimes the main weapon works better against those ghost, and not the proton ray. There’s a dodge manouver, but it’s pointless since it slightly delayed and most of the fast enemies (or the projectiles launching ones) move, shoot or suicide-bomb themselves at you…so it might as well not be there, just running and strafing around works way better.

Horrible design, a mess that just barely works as intended, in short.

Each character is class coded, which means they have different stats, an unique main weapon and an unique special grenade/ability. You can rack up exp, get upgrade points to spend in the very token skill grid, but you can’t upgrade your way out of the very slow paced gameplay, regardless if you improve the movement speed or not. The game is designed as a 4 players local co-op experience, so even in solo you will play with the IA controlling the other 3 characters, which are not THAT stupid, at least they revive you (or the other IA characters) when you get downed/killed , they know how to do that, but are far from smart, continually wasting grenade abilities on weak peons, getting assisted kills by chance more than choice, and showing no sense of self-preservation.

It’s a tedious slog, a tedium endurance test of great magnitude, as there’s nothing else to break up the utter monotony (not even some very basic enviromental puzzles or something), even catching ghosts with the Ghostbusters’ trap is made extra tedious because after you use the proton ray to slam the ghost and weaken it, you can get extra points from the capture… by pressing X as fast as you can, and i mean fast, even for trained button mashers, it’s absurd, grueling, even unfair, given the time window you’re given. Definitely not worth getting diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome over.

Yes, eventually you can get a perk to reduce the button mashing for the “trap capture multiplier”, but then again, Rambo The Videogame had a perk that let you skip QTE, 50 % of that title’s gameplay. This is not a good feature if you want to let the player neuter it as much as possible. Just pointing that out.

You can use the tricorder/ghost tuning fork doohickey to scan the surroundings and reveal “ghost runes” that give you points, make medikits appear, or unlock optional battle arenas that often lead to collectibles. Oddly enough, the game will remember you of this feature a lot, sometimes to reveal all ghostly residues needed to trigger a fight, but often just you can see “ghost footprints” in places the extremely linear level design will push you through anyway. Just to waste more of your time.

Then again, some of these just activate a bonus fight in a random room lacking even a collectable, and for those extra fights that do have collectables in the room (not even given as prizes for winning that fight)… the game really didn’t need this “ghost footprints” system, since you can tell there’s one by the possessed floating wheelchair that glows in ominous red for a bit. And some rooms are completely pointless, not even hiding some extra points via runes, just pointless, and most of them are larger than they should, for no reason, just to be there, to offer “visual content”, i guess.

At first i thought it was beyond redundant to have a button dedicated to the objective marker in an isometric style game where levels are 99 % corridors and sports very minimal interactions with the scenery (things that you can or can’t destroy look the same), BUT the levels are so streched and full of repeated assets sometimes you kinda need a reminder of where to go, since everything looks the same anyway and you can basically “get lost” in a straight road like Roronoa Zoro himself.

The levels are also poorly paced to boot, they don’t so much end as abruptly stop, instead of keep going with another set of identical corridors and rooms for 10 more minutes. No organic cohesion at all, in these asylums or cemeteries that are way too longwinding and big to exist, and of course transictions between the differents parts of the same level are sudden, jarring, and kinda laughable, as the game stops for 3 seconds, loads the next part, activate the checkpoint. Coupled with the continued recyclying of assets, it’s hard to believe you’re actually in a location that’s actually spacially connected, and not strung together by some cruel and incompetent Nen user.

And they do nothing to hide the monstrum of level design they cooked up, it becomes obvious now the level lasts even longer because we decided so. It’s especially transparent in the final ones, because you can use the marker and see you’re gonna enter a room on the side of a corridor and then…come back out of it, after having wasted 15 more minutes in inane battles. They could have make you do these fights in the corridors, but NO, who cares, we need to further pad this shitshow.

To exacerbate things even further, each location (haunted library, cemetery, abandoned asylum, etc) it’s made up 2 stages (the second ending in a boss battle) and each one takes about 30 minutes to finish, just to pad out the game overall’s longevity. It’s no wonder many people who played it never got far into it, even 1 hour in it’s obvious Fireforge Games just made the stages long for the sake it, with endless, repeated encounter against a very small pool of continuously recycled hordes (often so much the enemies feel out of place with the enviroments) of flaming skulls, ghost mobsters, ghouls, books, rats, etc.. And even so, “hordes” might be overselling it, the game does try to mimic some bullet hell patterns, but it’s just show, it’s always a slow paced affair.

In the last 2 levels, the developers realized they didn’t have the time to make more locations but still needed to pad out this turd, so the haunted ship levels are somehow made even longer and boring. And i mean like almost 1 hour long for a level. Good lord. The final level is the classic bullshit a developer resorts when they had no other option to falsify some extra “challenge”, so it’s a boss rush, a cheap ass boss rush, but even so, it’s impossible to fail the mission because it’s almost impossible to have all characters (including yours) dead at the same time. As a side note, just in this stage the game manages to chug like a drunkard, with embarassing framerate slowdown and drops, stuttering, sometimes not even when there are many enemies on screen.

Bosses aren’t better than regular enemies, and i feel the developers realized that mid-development, since boss enemies are just bullet sponges made “difficult” by having regular enemies around to annoy you. I use quotes because this game is piss easy, as it showers you in medikits, useful but not that important since – as said before – you will be inevitably revived by the IA characters, so it’s just a battle of attriction against your resistance to boredom, the game is by design impossible (or nearly impossible) to lose at, it just wants you to keep going, afraid – and rightfully so – that the combination of boring levels that are excessively long for the sake it and frustrating death that force you to start over… will just give a good reason to quit the game for good.

Look, i even nodded off into sleep many times in a run, and i somehow still managed to beat the level. If this doesn’t prove my point (it does), nothing will.

Just look at this shit.

Of course, the game eventually also tries to sneakly concoct a forced sense of challenge by throwing in more stronger enemies at once, and bad feedback coupled with a crappy interface means you never properly notice when you get hit or suffer damage. You sure will notice when the weapon is overheating, not only due to interface making it clear (and the fact you can’t shoot until you refresh the weapon), but also because the controller (on PS4, at least) vibrates. It doesn’t rumble when you get damaged, in any fashion, but – for some reason- it does when your weapon overheats.

Will all that said, it’s fitting that the final boss is a joke, so badly designed you can stand on the far edges of the arena, and he won’t reach you… if his “ghost energy sphere” doesn’t target you, but it’s random, not in response to you standing there and just shooting (and maybe sometimes help out the IA allies, but mostly they won’t need you) him in the back, and more than once they just failed anyway, so you can cheese this boss battle like this. And in 4 years, they never patched it or had any firmware update, but there’s a reason for that, a sad one, which we’ll get to at the end.

After beating the game, you unlock “Remix” version of the stages, i tried one, and couldn’t really tell the difference from the first level of the area is supposedly “remixing”, outside the fact the remix versions don’t have collectables… so they’re even more pointless. GOOD JOB.

Pet peeve of mine, the lack of total playtime shown anywhere, and of course this shiteblight of a game doesn’t want you to know how much time you wasted on it. Not listed in the game itself, not listed in the PS4 save data, but with the power of MATH, i was able to calculate it’s 6-7 hour game.

Still feels way longer than it should, since it has just 4 real locations/areas, as the library location has only one stage and it’s deceptively short (8 minutes max 10, all levels should have that short, btw), and the Limbo is just a boss rush plus final boss. Technically you could count the Ghostbusters HQ, but it just lets you power up and move around the skill points of every character (and every character must be leveled up separately, again, just to pad this out even further if you’re a “Achievement hunter” type of player)… so it doesn’t count.

You could also enter codes, i think for some extra costumes or something.

It’s not buggy or anything, it never crashed on me, so it’s something of a “plus”, like i said, it’s functional. A very shit boring game, but NOT a complete technical mess that barely manages to work. As i said, the final level’s framerate chugs a lot, just that level, but i did encounter random stuttering in the levels, just random.

Graphically, is cheapish, a budget game, as i said before, looks like it, but i have to wonder how the hell can slowdowns happen, give the lack of any frantic action or huge number of enemies on screen at any given time. I mean, it’s no wonder they choose the isometric visual, but even so you can occasionaly see enemies clip through or IN the scenery, somehow. They’re ghosts, sure, but come on.

The best thing i can say about the game presentation (or lack there of), is that the artwork used for the levels/stage loading (doubling as an intro card) are not badly drawn, at all! That’s about all i can say.

One thing that sticks out it’s the music, composed by not a random asshat or middling idiot, but by Grant Kirkhope. HOW? Seriously, what the hell is he doing here? It’s like having Uematsu to score your “my first RPG Maker project” title. Then again, he clearly phoned this one in big time, as most of the level themes are “generic spooky haunted place music”, and do sound like he is ripping off the Creepy Crypt tune from Banjo-Kazooie, like he’s ripping himself off. IF you can hear the themes over the sound effects and character quips (and my aging vanilla PS4 trying not to explode).

There’s 4 players local co-op with drop-in and drop-out, but no online co-op. It’s that cheap of a cashgrab, but in this case, it has local co-op. And doesn’t require a constant connection, or has a microtransactions shop. Even Activision wouldn’t do it, i think, since this is just drivel, spending more on it it’s just bad business.

Look, if EDF can manage to make it work with a limited number of locales, you have no excuse. EDF has issues that stems from this, but at least the overall gameplay lend itself more to be reused by adding and varying the types of enemies. This one just drags things on, and on, and on. As i said, if EDF can make it work better with its budget and flaws, you have NO excuse for bullshit like this.

Especially since EDF is fun despite the flaws, while even without the long ass levels, Ghostbusters 2016 the game would be the antithesis of fun. Boring as shit, horrendously designed and incredibly repetitive, with the game offering very little content but also no shame in cannibalizing itself after 1 hour at best. It’s also very cowardly, because is cheap as hell but still embarassingly easy, the developers ensured you can’t fail a mission ever, so “hopefully” you won’t feel like quitting due to losing or frustration caused by the usual cheap, frustrating shit this game still does anyway.

This game can’t even commit to that fully, so pathetic it is.

As the final kick in the balls (and the reason a patch never came), the developer, FireForge Games, announced bankruptcy 3 days (3 DAYS) after they release this one. They had worked on two MMOs, Atlas and Zeus, but they never saw the light of day, so this stands as they first and only released title. It’s like they managed to get a “branded” xenotaph, so you can tell who they were regardless, as if the shit factor made them known (for worst) on a nameless grave.

This was something worthy getting enraged about, unlike the 2016 movie.

But it’s no wonder nobody cared, since Activision knew it was publishing a really shit cashgrab, so it just kinda put this out without any marketing, combined with the well earned distrust of licensed videogames and overall media buzz of the movie putting off most people. And you shouldn’t either.

2/10

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