Licensed games are a surfeit commodity in the video games industry, and ninety percent of them fail to make you feel like you’re living in the established universes. Movie games especially fall flat and it’s rather disappointing. There’s nothing I’d love more after watching a film than going back home and living it. Who wouldn’t want to thrash about in a city as a Transformer, explore a mystical and imaginative world in Spike Jonze’s interpretation of Where the Wild Things Are, or even partake in a robbery after watching Heat?
Fortunately, many games are influenced by our favorite movies and we get to experience our favorite cinematic moments through these knock-offs. It isn’t bad, but you can’t really imitate something distinct like the Ghostbusters.
In theory, a Ghostbusters game shouldn’t really work. The movies relied on a cast of lovable and funny characters with small bits of action sprinkled here and there. My concerns when I first heard that this game was being made was that I would eventually get tired of the same ghost catching mechanics very early in. I mean, you never really expect a licensed product to focus heavily on the world, story, and characters. Usually if it isn’t a direct movie tie-in, the story is almost a direct copy of whatever the franchise’s source material was; throwaway stuff.
As my title infers, Terminal Reality succeeds in dragging in an adored universe into video games elegantly. The narrative, the voice work, the gameplay, and constant nods to the first two movies (you can talk to the Vigo painting at Ghostbusters HQ) all meshed excellently to bring me into this world and not let go ‘till the end.
Admittedly, the gameplay on its own would not keep me going as much as I’d like it to, but it holds up well. if you can enjoy a game like Killzone 2 in terms of mechanics repetition for a long length of time, you wouldn’t have a problem with it. You are for the most part just zapping and trapping ghouls with your heavy and nicely detailed proton packs. I’m sort of happy that they added some upgrades to your pack, tough minute.
So, trapping ghosts? Really, really rad, but what I really wanted to focus on was that strange sense of comradeship between me and these A.I. characters.
I’m going to pull back to something Anthony Burch said in one of his previous “Rev Rants” in which character empathy was discussed. He (much more eloquently) stated that some games writers, or people hired to write for video games, often try to force compassion for secondary characters with very little success. Oddly enough, the original Ghostbusters are secondary video game characters in this game. Fortunately for the writers, these characters have already been established, and us nerds know them well. The only challenge was making sure that the characters were brought in gracefully; doing them justice.
It isn’t perfect, and I can understand where people come from when they say, “it just isn‘t the same.” The story ends with an incredibly weak cinematic, and some of the dialogue could have been spruced up. Vankman is the most disappointing one of the group. There’s just something about the way his voice sounds that doesn’t bring that same charm. There’s too much indifference in his tone, making it sound like Bill Murray tried too hard.
There’s something that just clicked with me, though. It happened the moment I met my first ghosts and me and my supernatural battling chums began zapping them into our traps with them shouting giggle worthy quips. It was all I needed. I went from environment to environment working with the Ghostbusters as we unraveled this mystery as the new guy, and boy did they let me know it. I’m glad that they didn’t give the player’s character any dialogue. I was able to formulate my own responses to what was going around in the game in my head.
Sure, a lot of the story was same-ish and not as good as Ghostbusters II, and some of the in-game dialogue repeated at times, but I was a fucking Ghostbuster. I was one of the guys.