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Ghostbusters Video Game - PS2 Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Jun. 19, 2009 at 5:25 PM , Categories: Games
In addition to the copy here which has hyperlinks, you can also read my review over at GameFaqs and Amazon. An addendum to this review was posted on 8/6/2009. It picks up where this review leaves off.

I just got the PlayStation 2 version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game yesterday, played a little of it, and LOVED it! This is my quasi-review of the game taken from all of my hand-written notes. Apologies if it's a little rough or a bit disjointed as I pretty much took it from my notes. In this review, I will be using "PS2" as shorthand for the PS2/Wii version (stylized), and "PC" as shorthand for the PC/PS3/X360 version (realistic).

The first thing I noticed when the game booted up is that the Loading screens are ridiculously long - at least 30 seconds or more. One comes up just before the start-up logos, then another before every level. The PS2 cuts out a good part of the opening cinematic compared to the PC. I'm sure they did it for disc space reasons, but it's still very disappointing and makes the opening feel hollow. Gone are the "glowing eyes" shot (it adds to the creepiness of the scene), the shockwave, the Ecto-1, the opening cast credits (the main cast is at the top of the scrolling credits), and the theme song really (just as it kicks it, it stops cold). If there's one positive to say about the PS2 opening, it's that when it cuts into the No Ghost logo on the screaming guard's face, it's an exact callback to the opening of Ghostbusters where the same setup is done with the screaming librarian. As the kids used to say on Reading Rainbow, don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself: Realistic Version and Stylized Version.

The game starts off at a bunch of selection screens. You can choose your difficulty, of course, but more importantly, you can choose the gender of the Rookie character. The male model is a blonde surfer dude, while the female model is a cute brunette - kinda like Kylie from Extreme Ghostbusters without the Goth. However, since the game uses the same audio assets as the PC, there are many times when the guys will call her a "him" or "he". There are also various options you can change, including turning off the autosave feature. I don't know why you'd want to do that as I didn't see any way for the player to manually save the game. I would have preferred to be able to save anywhere, instead of only at the end of a level or if I made a change in the Options menu.

When the game proper starts, it places you in the firehouse. If you've been following the game and the images from the PC version online, you'll immediate notice how sparse it is. There are none of the little fan service easter eggs found in the PC version, other than the Vigo painting (not available right away) and the ability to slide down the two poles. Heck, other than the general look of the place, it doesn't even have the same layout as the firehouse in the movies or The Real Ghostbusters. I mean, the upstairs area is one little room, with NO beds! Where does everyone sleep?

I have no problems with the character design and visual style. Everything and everyone looks good for that style, but that's not to say that it's perfect. If you look carefully, you'll notice that someone forgot to connect the Proton Pack to the Neutrona Wand. Oops. I also noticed two instances of flickering textures in the hotel level: a painting in the main lobby, and a ceiling panel when chasing after the angry chef. An interesting little "nuance" of the game is that when not in "action" you can move the Ghostbusters around by pushing your character into theirs.

The controls work really well on the PS2. After a few minutes, you'll get the hang of them and they become almost second nature; very intuitive. Though it's very annoying not to have a run button. What ISN'T so intuitive is the wrangling and trapping mechanic. Once a ghost's energy has been depleted, you need to continue holding R2 (the fire button) to keep him in the stream (if you were also holding circle for the camera lock-on, you can let go of that), then flick the right analog stick in the direction of the on-screen arrows to slam the ghost around. After a few slams, you'll get the final four-way arrows, so you can then slam the ghost in any direction. Then you press triangle to get the trap out, and hopefully get the ghost quickly in the trap before he gets loose and you have to do the whole annoying slamming procedure again. I much prefer being able to slam the ghost how I want, when I want, and where I want, like on the PC.

The game retains the PKE Meter scanning feature of the PC version, but there's DOUBLE the amount of entities to scan - including some people! The on-screen crosshair gains a circle when it's over something that can be scanned. Green if you need to scan it, white if you already did. There's over 100 Tobin's Spirit Guide entries, which are split into two collectibles: scans and art pages. You perform the scan to get the data on the entity, and you collect the art page to get the picture of the entity. A word to the wise: be sure to scan everything, then destroy everything. You never know what items have Tobin's Spirit Guide entries, or what objects are hiding art pages inside them. Also, items in the Help & Tobin's Guide menus blink until you've viewed them once, and the Pause menu will dim is kept on screen too long. I guess this is to help prevent burn-in on your TV screen, so it's a good thing (it brightens up again as soon as you push any button).

One piece of equipment that isn't retained is the Slime Tether. Slime Mines replace the Slime Tether as the Slime Blower's secondary fire mode. That's kinda disappointing as I wanted to give the Slime Tether a trial run, but I guess that the PS2/Wii hardware couldn't support the Slime Tether. The Meson Collider and it's secondary mode, the Overload Pulse, are both eliminated entirely from the PS2 as well. Also, the health and pack overhead meters are on the on-screen HUD, not on the pack like in the PC.

The controller vibrates (rumbles) when you overheat, so if you don't keep an eye on your overheat meter, the controller will let you know. I was expecting, and hoping, that the rumble would have been used instead for when you're firing your proton pack. You know, to make it feel like there's some kickback from the weapon...ahhh, piece of equipment.

Going into the first level (the Hotel Sedgewick), Peter is telling everyone to try to look highly trained, but his lips aren't moving at all. I noticed a few cutscenes like this, and I've only played the first three levels so far. This shouldn't have made it into the final product. Heck, bad lip sync is better than no lip sync. Almost all of the cutscenes are rendered using the in-game engine. Only four of them are pre-rendered video files. I'm guessing that since the player can choose the model of the Rookie character, this was probably the only way to do it. The Rookie doesn't appear in any of these four cutscenes. Video files, including the pre-rendered cutscenes, have this interference in them that doesn't happen at any other time. I first noticed it during the start-up logos. Also, when an in-game cutscene appears, no matter where in the area you and the guys were when it started, you'll be moved to where the cutscene wants you to be.

There were a few instances of unrealistic behavior from the Ghostbusters. One example is when I was charged with zapping and trapping Slimer in the ballroom, while Peter stood in the background doing nothing. I understand he wants me to do it all by myself; and if he did take control, there'd be nothing for me to do (the game would play itself); but it just seems totally unrealistic for him to just stand there not doing a darn thing. The least he could do is help.

What are probably large, whole levels on the PC are broken up into smaller levels on the PS2. For example, your first trip to the Sedgewick is three levels on the PS2, in between each is one of those long loading screens. Damaged objects from one level will be restored in the next level, if both levels take place in the same place and time - such as the first three levels in the Hotel Sedgewick. But let me tell you... the environments are oh-so-destructible. Probably not as much as in the PC due to their being less objects, but its still very fun to destroy everything. Even duct work on the ceiling in the kitchen is destructible. Heck, even the tiny little ball lights hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen can be destroyed.

You can quit the current level and go back to the firehouse at any time, but you'd lose your progress in the level. It would have been nice if they gave this option in between levels - you know, after it saved your progress, and BEFORE you wait 30 seconds or more for the next level to load. When you go back to the firehouse, you'll have access to things that you didn't when you started off there. You can view the credits (second floor, cabinets next to far pole), replay completed levels (second floor, television), talk to Vigo (basement, no interact circle appears near him, but pressing X makes him chatty), view the actual Tobin's Spirit Guide book (basement), and collect two art pages (both in the basement). This is in addition to sliding down the two poles, going to the lockers for profile maintenance, or going to Ecto-1 to start the next mission. The background music in the firehouse repeats WAY too often, but I like the animation of Peter behind his desk, which at one point had him leaning on his Neutrona Wand. The text in the Tobin's Spirit Guide book should have been made darker, so it's easier to read, and it had entries for things I hadn't seen yet (possible glitch?). Another firehouse glitch: Go up to the Slimer cage, then walk backwards from it and you'll hear the "interact" sound effect. On rare occasions, the "View Tobin's Spirit Guide" graphic will pop up for a split second in the lower right corner.

There's no split-screen multiplayer on the PS2, only on the Wii. This is a single-player only game. That's sad because the PS2 can do local split-screen multiplayer, and even online multiplayer. I don't see why this had to be cut out. Also, the PS2 save icon is a big black cube with the box art on it. I'm disappointed, as I was hoping that it would have been a 3-D representation of the No Ghost logo.

Although at times the stylized game feels rather hollow compared to the realistic game, it's not really fair to compare them like that. The way to look at the two versions is like two different directors making two different movies of the same story/source material in two different styles. It's as if Sam Raimi and John Lasseter both decided to make their own version of Ghostbusters. Each has some similar story elements, and each has unique story elements. You need to play both versions of the game to get the complete experience.

And that's my overall impressions and notes about the PlayStation 2 version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game based on my playing of the first three levels. The stylized version may not be as cool as the big, bad realistic version, but it's a worthy addition to the franchise and leaps and bounds better than all of the other Ghostbusters video games that have come out in the past twenty-five years.
17 comments »

17 comments

Comment from: Johnathan [Visitor]
I don't know if its just my copy of the game or the PS2 I'm playing on, but in the later levels I am having a huge problem with the game freezing. I'm on what I think is the last level and have had it freeze four times on me
Jun. 19, 2009 @ 21:11
Comment from: Matman27 [Visitor]
Yeah, my PS2 version freezes ALL the time. I thought I was the only one but after doing some research online, its only the Wii and PS2 versions that freeze up. MANY MANY people are getting mad cause their games have been freezing too during game play. As a hard core GB fan, I'm disappointed about all this. I've waiting like others for YEARS and YEARS for this and now the time has come and it sucks. Waste of $15. Better off getting the PC or 360/PS3 versions.
Jun. 20, 2009 @ 00:35
Comment from: devilmanozzy [Visitor] · http://ghostbusters.wikia.com
Oh good, I thought my PS2 was going out. Its the game. Yeah its happening to me too. Is there a way to avoid the freezing? I havn't really used my PS2 much in the last 2 years and I really only play on my laptop now.
Jun. 20, 2009 @ 04:28
Comment from: Tommy [Visitor]
Yeah it's not only the ps2 and Wii versions, my ps3's been doing it sometimes, sometimes it doesn't' totally freeze but "lags" only not while I'm online. other times it does freeze and it sucks.

It tends to do ti really bad in menus...
Jun. 21, 2009 @ 23:46
Comment from: Zor Prime [Visitor]
Yeah, I've been having the same problems too!! The 1st version froze up on me many times, so I went back and had it exchanged. The new/2nd version worked fine in the beginning but now that I'm further ahead in the game, the darn thing is freezing up on me again. I feel like going back and getting my money back, I say there should be a RECALL...
Jun. 22, 2009 @ 01:44
Comment from: Vegeta [Visitor] Email
im at the cemetary level, at the part where you fight the stone cherubs as you go down the walk way to the big door. i beat the cherubs and get to the door, then it goes to a cut scene of the other ghostbusters breaking through a wall, then the game freezes up solid with a roaring like noise. i went and exchanged my copy for a new one, and the new one does the same thing in the same place. i dont know what to do about it!
Jun. 26, 2009 @ 00:43
Comment from: Tresob [Visitor] · http://swaft.info
I'm with you guys on the freezing.
Not only does the game crash while ghostbusting, it crashed four times in the middle of Walter Peck introductory cutscene. I had to sit through the load time four times and never did get to see the end of the sequence, as I eventually decided just to skip it and get on with the game.
In another cinema sequence, the screen just turned into abstract art.
The game (when it works) is fun, but this is by far the shoddiest programming I've ever seen for the PS2. We should start e-mailing Atari and demand a recall.
Jun. 26, 2009 @ 14:23
Comment from: Vegeta [Visitor]
i went to atarisupport.com and i sent a message i think to technical support or something of that nature and it said allow like 5 to 10 days for a response. then when i sent the message i got something in my e-mail that said my case was received and someone would be getting back to me, and it had a case number and everything. that was like 3 days ago.
Jun. 27, 2009 @ 04:13
Comment from: Lanny D. Crepiut [aka "Ectofiend"] [Visitor]
Here's what I liked better about the PS2 version over the PS3 version, which is still my favorite of the two [SPOILERS!!]:

-More cut-scenes that make the experience feel more like a movie [though I understand that in the next-gen versions having major chunks of dialogue happen real-time was to make you feel more like you were IN the game as opposed to just watching it].

-Character models - Despite being charicatures - Seemed more emotive and in-character when the cut scenes were actually fully animated. ESPECIALLY Peter - Murray's dialogue rang much more true with the hand gestures and wild eye movements. The subtle nuiances of the characters SHINED in this iteration.

-Missing dialogue - Some of the jokes in this version had the missing "punchlines" that were absent in the next-gen versions, making the jokes that much more funny. As well as Janine having much more to say.

-Better use of the score - The placement of the music seemed much more appropriate in this version, and used more of the score in general.

-Firehouse used as a hub. 'Nuff said [and I like the fact that the "start screen" happens from the inside of your "locker"].

-Puzzles/Complexity of the levels: The levels in this version had much more going on. Some examples being the Sedgewick [The twisting/upside down rooms, the battle with this version's "Spiderwitch", not mention seeing more of her doing her thing as a plain ghost during the beginning of the level], the Sewers [Having to wrangle invisible platforms and then stasis beam them to keep them from rising again, having to stop the slime pumps], the Cemetary [Having to piece the door back together, lining up the matching dancing ghosts to open the gate]. Not to mention the Shandor fight felt much more rewarding.

-Secondary Character Models: I found myself liking most of the secondary character models better, despite them being charactures [the cops at the beginning - No offense Skanker, and the Sedgewick Manager looks like Michael Ensign from the movies, amongst others].

-Level Layout: Despite not being as detailed as it next-gen counterparts, or as big in scope, I tended to prefer the layout, and color scheme [more colors of ectoplasm!! YAY!!] of this version - ESPECIALLY the aforementioned Sedgewick, as it felt more like the version from the first movie...

-Fluidity Of The Story/Dialouge: It just seemed to flow better, and the choices of what take to use for a specific line were impeccable. Especially with Illysa.

-Callbacks To The Second Film: While the next-gen focused on GB1 callbacks, this version gave at least abit more lip-service to the second.

-Secondary Ghosts: I loved the way the Grave Gollum was portrayed in this version, as well as ghosts here that weren't in the next-gen versions such as the Malevolent Echos, the 8-Bit ghosts, the Snot Hags, the T-Rex, the Black Slime Elemental, the Black Slime Spiders, the Shadow Babies, the Slime Dogs [Terror Dog Babies FTW!!], the Slime Lab Elemental, and even the Black Slime Boss [That's ALOT of Black Slime!!]. Made for a more well-balanced roster.

-Camera-Angles: I found that this version made better use of camera angles during the cut-scenes that added that much more to the overall feeling of the game.

-THE ENDING: Again it flows better, MUCH better segway into the "franchise" speech, you actually get to see it, and it's a nice touch that they all look at YOU [and not just your character] and ask "would you like to head up the new franchise?" Not to mention the "bust Slimer" mini-game running throughout the credits!!

Now if only Red Fly and TR had worked together on ONE game, vs. two we have SUPER-UBER-MECHA GB:TVG!!
Jun. 29, 2009 @ 01:01
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
Lanny

That's a nice little review you wrote. It makes me want to play more of the game right now...if only I didn't have LOTS of work to do first :-(
Jun. 29, 2009 @ 03:06
Comment from: Jessica G. [Visitor]
Well I want to start off by saying the Ghost busters game is awesome and is a lot of fun to play. I have the PlayStation 2 version. I also have to add that the dialog is funny and it correlates well to the movies. The voices are accurate as well as their character.

Unfortunately, I also have to add a comment about how horribly the game was made! It freezes ALL THE TIME! I am constantly having to reset my game and re-start the level because on every stage, something goes goofy with the game. I just thought that I'd add to the many comments about the insane amount of bugs the game has. It really makes me sad because it is so fun to play, but your just going to have to tough it out, and deal with it. It just seems that as the game progresses, the worse it gets. I am currently 63% into the game and these couple of levels I just passes were unbelievable! I have "fallen through" the game into the blue screen twice now, about 5-10 freezes, the audio cuts out ALOT, Pecks mouth stopped moving, the screen just goes blank during cut scenes, sometimes without audio. Its like Im waiting to see what happens next! It could be anything!. Well ok Im done now. I am just so disappointed with the bugs and errors. I am going to keep on going though, because I like the game, its just going to take me a year and a half to beat it because I have to repeat levels all the time due to mistakes and errors. My advice, if your a patient person and you love the Ghost Busters its a must have, but if not...just get the Wii version. GhostBusters, more like Ghost-BUG-sters!
Jun. 30, 2009 @ 16:31
Comment from: lisa [Visitor]
hi i am stuck on the first partof the game i got slimmer, but now i cant seem to get the angry chefs to go down i shot them but the red bar will not go down, anyone help???
Jul. 3, 2009 @ 15:30
Comment from: Andy [Visitor]
hey I love this game as well...even if it does freeze up every once in a while, but the reason I am posting this is that I need help.

I am on the first part of the central park level were I have to open the gate to get ecto-1 through, I know I have to slime the grave stones and when I use the capture stream and pull down the grave stones the skeletons pop out....is there suppose to be some order to pulling the grave stones done...Thanks
Jul. 13, 2009 @ 20:54
Comment from: Chris Roberts [Visitor] Email
I've got the ps2 version to. Has anyone unlock slimmer out of the phone booth? I really think it's possible cause when you walk passed him at the firehouse the game makes a sound like u can do something w/ him. Help me out yall. . .
Sep. 15, 2009 @ 09:56
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
Chris

You can't get Slimer out of the phone booth. That sound you hear is a glitch that I mentioned in my review posted above:

Another firehouse glitch: Go up to the Slimer cage, then walk backwards from it and you'll hear the "interact" sound effect. On rare occasions, the "View Tobin's Spirit Guide" graphic will pop up for a split second in the lower right corner.

It's because right below that spot in the basement is the Tobin's Spirit Guide, which *does* have an interact circle in front of it.
Sep. 15, 2009 @ 18:22
Comment from: timothy [Visitor]
i also have this game and would love to play it all the way through why does it freeze cant the platformers programers gety it right come on guys fix it already.....
Oct. 8, 2009 @ 04:52
Comment from: Steven [Visitor]
Well I purchased the game as it was $20. Considering I still have my PS2 and haven't had the money to upgrade to PS3 or Xbox360, I put up with obtaining the version with the cartoonish faces versus the lifelike faces, because I really wanted to play the game. As previously described by others, the game freezes up with a horrible drone sound that is deafening if you have the volume up. It occurred first at the cutscene in Level 1 with the man from the hotel. The second time, I skipped that cutscene, and was doing fine until some major action involving the Angry Chef pushing a cart at me from the side that resulted in the second freeze. It did now save the previous two stages, but it is annoying. I will eventually upgrade to PS3 or 360 and purchase it for that, assuming there are not nearly as many bugs and there is more room for memory.
Feb. 27, 2010 @ 20:41

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