Friday, June 26, 2009

Thoughts on Ghostbusters

(Note: This is about the XBox 360 version.)

Okay, finished up Ghostbusters: The Videogame recently (IE, last week). So where do I begin? I don't know, honestly. I think I'ma try talking about this a little differently.

- The Good -

The graphics are pretty good. Time was spent, especially, on building the various character and ghost models. The characters models, especially the main ones (the Ghostbusters). They have this abbreviated realism style that looks realistic, but still lets you know its not (intentionally) real. I know some reviewers have touched on the whole "uncanny valley" (look it up on wikipedia if you don't know about it >.>) bit with the XBox/PS3 versions, but while the characters look like their actor counterparts, I don't get that "almost human, but not quite" feeling with how they look in game. The ghosts, for the matter, retain the more overdone, cartoony style the generic ghosts used in the movies and the cartoons. And they continue to work in conjunction with the rest of the art style.
Sound is very good. Pulling in sound effects and music from the movies. Going along with that, the original actors both writing and providing the voices for the characters, pure gold because it is so true to the original. And of course, hearing the old Ghostbusters theme song, yay. Controls are pretty good, nothing really notable.

- The Bad -

There is some screen tearing, but its pretty inconsistent, I only experienced it in a handful of areas, and it only seems to happen with rapid camera turning. But then, that's where it normally occurs, when it does. The primary graphical hiccup is actually lip-flapping. In all the cutscenes, both in-engine and out, when you can actually see the characters talking, the lip flapping on the spoken words is so off its almost hilarious. I know other reviewers say that this actually works in favor of the PS2/Wii versions of the game, which use an entirely different grahical style to make up for those respective system's lack of graphical power. But on the XBox (the version I got), it just looks bad. What makes it worse is that this game was done by an American company, and American companies working with any kind of animation (including film and television) usually worry too much about making sure lip-flaps match the dialogue, almost to the point of OCD (sometimes).
Japanese companies don't worry about this that much. Neither do Japanese animators (I mean anime).
Just a note: all that stuff above is just a minor annoyance, despite how much I said about it.
My primary beef with the game, though, is the end of the final stage. Just to note, I played the game on "Experienced" (IE, normal) difficulty, so the game has a few tough spots, but isn't (and I'm guessing isn't meant to be) too hard. This completely flies out the window during the last couple encounters. While the idea of grabbing and throwing around enemies is shown early in the game (including an enemy type that can only be killed by doing it), one thing the game never used previously is enemies that can one-shot you at full health.
Yes, until almost the end of the game, there are no enemies that can do that, and then they put you in a situation where you have to grab enemies and smash them into an environmental object, but these enemies can one-shot you. To make matters worse, there are more of these enemies than (I think anyways) it is reasonable to deal with, coupled with the inclusion of other enemies that are there specifically pull your attention away from the ones you need to deal with. I found the entire section almost wallbangingly difficult, I died more times there than the rest of the game combined.
This led to noticing another problem that is very annoying. Checkpoint loading. I can understand a long load time from the main menu, but when you're reloading the last checkpoint from the stage your in? NO. The game should not be reloading the entire fucking level from scratch on a checkpoint reload.
Other random problem, the game has an inconsistent freeze bug. It typically happens when checking the subscreen (pause menu) during a scripted, in-engine, non-cutscene, event. The game doesn't, technically, freeze, but checking the subscreen during an event sometimes causes the event to glitch and freeze the event. If the event doesn't complete, then the game can't continue, thus necessitating a checkpoint reload. Also, text from scans do not always load completely the first time the entry is viewed, sometimes requiring leaving the subscreen and reentering it to view it entirely. Like the event freeze, its inconsistent. Unlike the event freeze, this one doesn't actually affect gameplay).

- The Ugly -

1) The final form of the final boss isn't terribly imaginative, but, considering his character is from the 1800's, I guess unimaginative works for the character...
2) Aside from the painting of Vigo in the firehouse, there is only ONE callback to the second Ghostbusters movie (in the form of the Slimeblaster weapon). All other callbacks are to the first movie.
3) The Ghostbusters DVD artifact. lol
4) No Rick Moranis or even his character is seen, though his desk and mountains of paperwork are.
5) StayPuft is still cute, but clown ghosts (multiplayer only) are creepy as all hell.
6) The character voiced by Alyssa Milano is named, get this, "Alyssa". WTF?
7) Winston Zeddmore has a doctorate?
8) Walter Peck is still a peck. XD

I hope this was coherent. Hell, I hope someone reads this, let alone comments... *poke poke*

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