Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ghostbusters: A Reflection

When I was 8, my friends and I built a Ghostbusting headquarters in my basement. We had a containment unit made out of a desk. Sure, we were participating in the crass commercialism of children's entertainment that would mark that generation and all future ones, but being a Ghostbuster was even cooler than being a Ninja Turtle (and was less likely to get you hurt jumping off playground equipment now often banned).

The new Ghostbusters video game manages, as best it can, to capture that feeling. There are ghosts, and you bust them, and you cause a lot of mayhem in the process, and anything else that goes on is irrelevant. This is the contract you make with the game, and it holds up its end of the bargain. It doesn't matter that it's Gears of War-lite for shooting mechanics, or that the character models are unsettling, or that it's a blatant retread the plot of the first movie. It's just really fucking cool to carry a proton charger on your back and fire it at a giant marshmallow guy throwing cars at you, or stand around in a graveyard yelling at your friends not to cross the streams.

The only design element aside from that I want to call out is the clever use of poltergeisting to block off initially open areas, making the levels feel much larger than they are without using invisible walls.

If as a child you ever pretended to bust ghosts, this is the game for you.

No comments: