Legitimate actors and screenwriters usually don’t attach themselves to video game projects.
Maybe the limits of the medium scare off some marquee talent.
When actors do attach themselves to a gaming project, it’s usually in the form of voice work for a movie tie-in game. Rarely are they actively involved in writing a game’s screenplay.
That’s why I got excited as soon as I learned that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the script for a “Ghostbusters” video game. Just like any child of the 1980s, I loved the “Ghostbusters” movies and still believe that the original film is one of the great comedies.
And 20 years after “Ghostbusters 2,” Aykroyd and Ramis have delivered another classic installment to the series.
About 10 minutes into my first time playing “Ghostbusters: The Video Game,” which is out now for all major systems, I noticed the game established what few developers attempt and even fewer accomplish. The game is funny.
It has to be difficult to be funny with voice work, because you don’t have that opportunity to play off a fellow actor.
But Bill Murray brings everything to his virtual Peter Venkman character that he did for the two movies. He has dozens of classic one-liners that would probably be quoted by comedy buffs had this been a film.
Aykroyd, Ramis and Ernie Hudson all have memorable lines as Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore, respectively. Annie Potts also returns as the team’s secretary, Janine. The stars found a way to rekindle their on-screen chemistry in the video game, which is an admirable feat considering the 20-year layoff.
Along with being funny, “Ghostbusters” captures the feel of the movies. The music and famous theme song are in the game. So is the firehouse and Ecto-I, and many of the ghosts from the films.
“Ghostbusters” does as good a job as any game at staying faithful to the original source material.
But while the game’s environment is great, it’s still a game, and thus is measured by its gameplay.
The gameplay is very solid, but it’s overshadowed by everything else.
The player’s primary weapon — the proton pack — can be upgraded to use a number of different streams. Catching ghosts can often be tedious, with the process resembling reeling in a fish. You have to air out the pack so it doesn’t overheat — this essentially acts as a reloading mechanism — which can be annoying in battle. For the most part, battling the ghosts is a blast, and most of the environments are destructible. The multiplayer elements are also a strong addition to the game.
Aykroyd has said he considers the game a sequel to the second film.
If that’s how he and the other stars view it, then they should be proud of their success.