Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: Compared to the "T" rated 360/PS3 version, this E10+ rated version is far tamer in content (with the majority of intense elements cut, along with a more cartoony, kid-friendly art-style) in every way but language, which, surprisingly, remains largely intact—otherwise, it'd be appropriate for ages 10, if not 7+. So (overall), I recommend this game for ages 13+.

Comic mischief: Ghosts (like gluttonous, green blob "Slimer," who's seen eating cake as it passes right through, etc.) behave in an over-the-top, cartoony manner; morbid issues like death, murder, possession and the occult are observed and commented on in a matter-of-fact, tongue-in-cheek manner by the Ghostbusters as they haphazardly destroy everything in site without a care; and there is mild crude humor; ghosts often vomit slime—lacing your body until shaken off—and a certain enemy, Snot Hags, are piled blobs of green goo in the loose form of their namesake.

Fantasy violence: Taking place a couple years after Ghostbusters II, the story begins as you find the Ghostbusters training a new recruit, whom Venkman insists on simply calling "Rookie." During Rookie's training, Slimer is accidentally released, and as they revisit the Hotel Sedgwick to recapture the gluttonous ghost—because of a recent PKE shock wave that hit the city—they get more than they bargained for, like the return of Gozer in his Stay Puft Marshmallow Man form, and a slew of ghostly activity. As they deal with a new paranormal mess, they're burdened by meddling of the major's newly formed P-COC (or, Paranormal Contract Oversights Committee) headed by Venkman's mortal enemy and all around obnoxious guy, Walter Peck. To top it all off, the teams' new acquaintance, Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn, helps them discover that Ivo Shandor—the man who built the complex that summoned Gozer the first time—retrofitted more buildings in order to harness the power to break the barrier between our world and theirs', and unleash more like Gozer—time for some Ghostbustin'...

After you get trained in basic control and gameplay mechanics at headquarters, you'll make your way to Hotel Sedgwick to start your first mission. And the base gameplay consists of using the PKE meter to track ghosts' trails, the Proton Pack's Blast Stream to first wear ghosts down, and then the Capture Stream to "Wrangle" and "Slam" them in reverse of their struggles into commissioned floor traps. As you navigate the levels and fight through waves of ghosts (reviving downed teammates, watching your pack's meter for overheating, pressing buttons to activate objects/lifts, etc.), you'll use later equipment to solve puzzles; Slime Blower to clear Black Slime from blocked paths, or reveal and lace hidden, intangible objects with slime; Capture Stream to drag slimed objects from blocked openings, pull down weights to lift gates or platforms, or grasp, recharge and place batteries in generators to open doors; the Stasis Stream to freeze moving platforms or make blockages brittle enough to destroy; and the Para-goggles to navigate hidden paths or avoid invisible Ghost Snares, all the while trying to reach the source of paranormal activity and destroy it: bosses.

You'll be combating a plethora of ghosts, all unique to their levels, starting with Hotel Sedgwick (most look as they sound): Kitchen Wisps (swarming cooking utensils) and Sous Chef Ghosts. Times Square: Construction Ghosts, Marshmallow Minis (Stay Puft's minions made of the stuff), Electronic Wisps (swarming arcade pixels), Printer Paper Zombies (human forms in paper), and (flying) Gargoyles. Public Library: (flying) Book Bats, Library Phantasms, Literature Page Zombies, and Book Centurions (with javelins and shields). History Museum: Wayward Possessors, Black Slime Floaters (ghosts with scythes), (possessed) Mayan and Egyptian Mannequins, Snot Hags, Confederate/Union Ghosts (with guns and swords), Flaming Skulls, and (dog-like) Hound Demons. Hotel Sedgwick (revisit): Malevolent Echoes (shadowy human forms), Spider Scuttlers and Hotel Phantasms. Lost Island: (insect-like) Black Slime Scuttlers, Spawn, Elementals, and Behemoths (all made of it), and Cultist Ghosts. And Central Park Cemetery: Grave Scuttlers (living, crawling gravestones), (flying) Stone Cherubs, Gravedigger Ghosts, (flying) Imp Demons and (golem) Stone Elementals.

The combat system is moderately chaotic and destructive, but little beyond that, with a very cartoony, over-the-top tone, and other than the fantastical particle effects that expel from ghosts in the form of green and blue, gooey ectoplasmic slime, there is no blood. And the combat consists of using your Proton Pack's continuous Blast Stream to wear enemies down; Boson Darts' missile-like burst to do more damage; Shock Blast to discharge short-range bursts of shotgun-like energy; Slime Blower to damage Black Slime Ghosts or exorcise Possessed Humans; and Slime Mine to expel a ball of slime, which attaches itself to enemies and then explodes. Your Proton Pack also has impact on the surrounding area, as it tears through, crumbles and breaks up almost anything, flinging dozens of random objects left/right, and after scuffles the area is ruined, with scorch marks filling floors and walls in trails. Many ghosts must be trapped and react in panic as they flail from capture, while others can be destroyed or pulled apart with your Capture Stream, and will dissipate or explode into their original materials; Black Slime, marshmallow, books, paper, stone, etc.

The ghosts themselves are aggressive and attack from all directions, ambushing you in great numbers; flying ghosts (along with swarming pots/pans, Flaming Skulls, Book Bats, etc.), telekinetically fling random objects and/or rush into you, shoot damaging energy or possess objects and try to attack with them until the objects are destroyed. And grounded ghosts (along with droves of crawling, exploding Hoppers, Black Slime Scuttlers, Grave Scuttlers, etc.) form from random objects (paper, books, stone, etc.) and rush at you up-close, often with what the form is equipped with (swords, spears, molten stones, etc). It steps up later in, as the smaller, crawling enemies will spawn in endless amounts from nest-like portals; bosses like Chef Sargossa (who attacks by flinging butcher knives), Stay Puft (who tries to reach in buildings with giant hands) or hulking golems (pounding at you in cramped quarters) can be tense; ghosts will often trap you in a room until they're all defeated; and many ghosts have mildly disturbing appearances, like the huge, eelish Collector—tentacles coming from its mouth—or the plump, freakish—human-torso, spider-bodied—Spider Witch.

The atmosphere can be lightly spooky, as furniture and objects levitate, fly off shelves or abruptly slide to block your way. Lights flicker as you traverse dark corridors, and places like the Spider Witch's lair (dank hotel hallways laced with webs) or the ruined graveyard are mildly eerie. Ghost slime you, slowing you down until you shake it off, and you can be harmed by invisible Ghost Snares; if too much damage is taken, you'll fall to your knees as the screen fades. And allies can be downed; you'll lose their help until you can reach and revive them. But, while it can get stressful, it's always campy and light-hearted; you only ever feel as if you just have to tolerate ghosts' hissy fits. Cutscenes contain plenty of chaos, tongue-in-cheek references to occult rituals, signs, demon worship, and paranormal activity in the lightest of senses. As for age group, in comparison to the "T" rated 360/PS3 version, this E10+ rated version is considerably tamer (with the majority of intense elements cut, along with a more kid-friendly and cartoony art-style) in every way but its language, which, surprisingly, remains largely intact—otherwise, it'd be quite appropriate for younger kids.

Mild language: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it's mild) There are four uses of d*mn, and one use of p*ss and pr*ck—play on obnoxious character's name; "Peck"). In addition, in a brief scene, Venkman (a Ghostbuster) coughs "Preck" under his breath; there is one use of hell and d*mned in context; and if you have the subtitles enabled, you will see a single use of "D*mn" and "Pecker" left over from the 360/PS3 version's script—although they are not heard.

Mild suggestive themes: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating; it is mild)

  • Venkman (a Ghostbuster) shamelessly flirts with main female character, Ilyssa, throughout (Ilyssa: Why are you looking at me?! Venkman: Well you look a lot better than the others [Ghostbusters] really)—they briefly kiss at the end.
  • It's mentioned that, in order for the evil "Collector" to procure a rare book from her library, he "seduced" Eleanor Twitty (now Library Ghost) and then killed her.
  • Wayward Possessors are in mildly scant dress, revealing a light amount of their bony midriffs—but since they're dead and possess you, it detracts appeal.
  • After spotting a portrait of what seems to be Ilyssa in Shandor's castle, Winston states, "Ilyssa, I see her!" Venkman replies in a solemn tone, "You and me both. She's wearing just a simple terry cloth robe, and she's brought me coffee."

Content review posted: 08/30/09

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