Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered celebrates the game’s tenth anniversary by being re-released onto PC, and introducing the game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time. This was a game that was seemingly lost to a licensing abyss as the original game has been de-listed from many storefronts. Taking the reins from Atari and Terminal Reality, the original publisher and developer is Mad Dog Games and Saber Interactive. The updates are welcome, though not as substantial as I would have thought; but this game offers something so close to being a Ghostbusters film, that this is essentially Ghostbusters III all but in name. If you’re a fan of this movie series, it should be a no-brainer.
Remaster vs Original Release
Due to this being a remaster and re-release, you might trying to figure out what’s new, changed, or in some cases not different at all. I installed both the remaster on the Epic Games Store (where it is exclusively on PC), and installed the original Steam release of the game to draw comparisons.
For the Steam version, I know anecdotally that it doesn’t properly support a 21:9 aspect ratio. I then confirmed issues via PCGamingWiki. I was able to run the game in 2560×1440 (1440p) resolution just fine. Now, playing the prologue via the remaster on Epic Games Store did show some cleaner textures, and two added video options: FXAA for anti-aliasing and film grain.
Now, this game didn’t exist on PS4 or XB1 before, so it makes sense to release it there. However, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is available on Xbox One via Xbox Backwards Compatibility if you own the original release. This new release supports 4K on the new systems, so there is that, where in backwards compatibility is limited to 720p.
Surprisingly, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is largely the same game on EGS as it is on Steam. The game look almost identical, with only minor differences visually for crispness in textures for the remaster. So, if you already own the game on Steam, there’s no need to get the remaster on Epic Games Store unless you need proper 21:9 support.
For those unfamiliar, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis actually penned Ghostbusters: The Video Game as they did the two films. Taking place in 1991, after the events of Ghostbusters II, some strange things begin to occur that start to feel very familiar. This game reunites most of the original cast, even the elusive Bill Murray who’s been very resistant to a third movie, decided to voice Dr. Peter Venkman once more. So too you’ll hear Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz, Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler, and Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore. Filling out the cast is William Atherton as the insufferable Walter Peck, Brian Doyle-Murray (brother of Bill Murray) taking on a new role as Mayor Mulligan, and Alyssa Milano as Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn, a new love interest for Peter Venkman. For film actors doing voicework for a video game, they do a decent job and it feels like they are these characters even if they are limited in their performance.
Playing Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is like a “greatest hits” compilation, with some new ghosts and locations thrown in to the mix. It takes about six to seven hours to see the campaign through, and it’s a really fun ride. It plays similar to a Gears of War style third-person shooter minus the cover, but still has a stiff roadie run and locked camera. You play as “The Recruit”, an unnamed and unvoiced male character that the Ghostbusters just hired. They don’t want to know your name because they aren’t sure how long you’ll last on the job, it’s clever and funny way of handling the silent protagonist that I can get behind. You’ll revisit places like the Sedgewick Hotel and the New York Public Library, but places like a hidden and haunted island, the otherside of a portal, and Times Square don’t let you think you’ve seen it all before.
While it’s pretty generic as a shooter, it does present some neat ideas. For instance, you’ll use three new proton pack weapon variants, each with alternate fire modes. First you have the well-known blast stream, but the alternate fire is a boson dart which fires a concentrated ball of energy at your opponent. The next weapon you get is a Shock Blast which is essentially an electrified shotgun, with a freeze beam as an alt fire. Third is the slime blower, an advanced version of the blaster used in Ghostbusters II, with a slime tether as the alternate fire mode. Lastly, is a meson collider which shoots a high-powered energy shot a DMR, with an overload pulse that feels like an SMG. It’s new and fresh weaponry that really works in a video game context.
You’ll have downtime in-between missions to hang out at the firehouse before taking on the next mission. With a critic’s eye, there’s so little to do here. As a fan, this is a dream to explore (outside of something created for VR). You can talk to a few people, or listen in on conversations and things taking place with Janine or the other Ghostbusters. Any collectibles you find in missions will be brought back to the firehouse for you to interact with or look at. There’s a certain level of charm and nostalgia that makes these breaks so much fun, even if it’s only for just a few minutes.
You’ll do a lot of ghost hunting using your PKE meter, and using your proton pack to wrangle and trap ghosts. When you’re not in combat, you’re searching for clues or finding collectibles. These moments are genuinely creepy when things are calm. Then when an apparition moves a cart, knocks something over, or rushes straight out at you, it’ll make you jump a bit or laugh at how unexpected that was.
In the movies, the Ghostbusters fight what could be considered bosses. So the game gets a bit contrived by introducing weak enemies that are fodder, and even mini-bosses, with many of them having specific weak points or certain weapons that damage them. It’s not a bad thing, but something you wouldn’t expect Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered to have, given the source material.
It’s worth noting that the all versions of this remaster do not have multiplayer. On PC, the original release never had the multiplayer component. It’s something I’d like to see added, but I don’t think there’s an audience for it. It’d be great to setup a private game and play, but at large may not be as popular as it once was. There’s also a distinct lack of DLC outfits. The original release of the game featured the jumpsuits from Ghostbusters II (you know, the dark gray ones). They are noticeably absent here for the crew to wear.
Another weird omission is the fact that the game no longer has a per-level insurance cost system. In the original release, the game was very concerned with how much damage you were causing, and how much the city of New York would have to pay to insurance. That’s all basically removed. You’ll still see an accumulating total as you blast around, but this never gets represented anywhere else in-game. It was a neat mechanic that was for some reason scrapped in this re-release.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is absolutely worth the play, even though there are systems and mechanics that are dated, and the remastered updates on PC aren’t as significant as I would have thought. For the moment, this is the closest we’re going to get to Ghostbusters III, and it’s just really fun experience. There’s some genuinely spooky moments sprinkled throughout that make the comedy the perfect mix the films were. Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is a rare kind of game that should be played, owned, and experienced despite its flaws.
An Epic Games Store code was provided by the publisher for review purposes