***I consider myself a casual gamer, as opposed to a die-hard. So when I pick up a new game, it’s because I’ve got a genuine interest in it, despite my novice gaming skills. Join me now as I navigate the latest Ghostbusters video game for the PS4, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed!***
By Rob Siebert
I’d been introduced to Winston, Ray, and the Ghostbusters team. I’d designed my avatar, though the beard was admittedly a bit too long. I’d had my tutorial on how to use the equipment. My automated Ghostbuster teammates were behind me. I was back at the Whitestone Museum of Nature and Science. It was time to wrangle and trap a ghost!
Except that’s not exactly what happened. Not at first, anyway.
My First Job
Whose idea was it to let the rookie lead a team on to a job, anyway? Or are all these characters supposed to be rookies? I just happened to pick the name tag that said “Rookie.”
My first official outing as a Ghostbuster in Spirits Unleashed did not go well. But on the upside, it was relatively short. Me, and the awkwardly named automated characters of Lima, Primo, and Corn Dog couldn’t have lasted 10 minutes before the Building Haunt meter filled to 100% and we were done. Actually, mere seconds into the job the ghost slimed me from behind, incapacitating me. The damn ghost fought dirty! At least when Slimer got Venkman, he rushed him head on…
So naturally, I tried again. Sent back to the firehouse, I selected the museum as my mission. Only something I didn’t expect happened. While the mission location obviously hadn’t changed, I had a new group of teammates, and was chasing after a different ghost.
It was at this point that I realized the randomized nature of the game’s solo player mode. You do, in fact, get to lead your own team of Ghostbusters as the advertising suggested. You do not, however, get to actually build that team, customize them to your liking, etc. The game simply assigns you new, randomized, automated teammates with each mission. Not to mention a new, randomized, automated ghost. From a story and character investment standpoint, that was a big downer.
To be victorious as a Ghostbuster, you essentially have to catch the ghost four times. Each ghost comes alongside three spectral rifts that allow it to regenerate after you’ve trapped it. So the fourth time you catch it gets you the win.
I wasn’t much better on my second go at the museum. And yet, something I didn’t expect happened: I won, despite not trapping the ghost the fourth and final time. Seconds later, I was told one of my automated teammates had trapped the ghost. That was another downer. And frankly, one that didn’t make a ton of sense. So I could win the game, despite not being the one who captured the ghost a final time? That kind of puts a damper on the fun of it all, doesn’t it?
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is obviously best enjoyed as a multi-player game where one can team up with friends to catch a ghost. Or perhaps face off against one another if someone chooses to play as the ghost. You can play by yourself if you want to, but that’s clearly not the game’s strong suit.
I had controller problems as well. My biggest struggle was switching off between the particle thrower that wrangles the ghost, the PKE meter that seeks and detects it (shown above), and the ghost trap that ultimately contains it. One frustrating thing about the game is you have to stop firing your particle thrower in order to put out your trap. So if you suddenly see the ghost you’re after and you wrangle it with your proton stream, you have to switch off said proton stream in order to deploy your trap, then hope you can quickly catch the ghost again.
Mind you, as you’re hunting for the ghost you’ve still got to be mindful of the civilians in the building with you, calming them down, etc. Each civilian has what I’ll call a little “scare meter” above them. If that scare meter fills completely, they flee the building, which I believe counts against your Building Haunt meter. You don’t want to be in the way of a fleeing civilian either, as they can knock you down.
Each ghost can also deploy little minions that you’ve got to destroy with your proton stream. It’s not a huge inconvenience. Though you certainly don’t want them all to swarm you at once.
Oddly enough, one of the random ghosts I ended up facing in the museum was none other than Slimer. There was nothing different or special about him, though. And last I checked, he couldn’t deploy minions…
I was stubborn about mastering the controls, and didn’t want to venture too far into the game until I had at least a decent handle on them. I must have gone back and done the museum level 10 times. Sometimes I caught the ghost, sometimes I didn’t.
One advantage that approach did afford me was additional XP (experience points), which I was able to use to unlock new Ghostbuster tech (shown above). It wasn’t anything that altered my gaming experience too much. I was able to vent the pack a little bit quicker. But other than that, nothing to write home about yet.
As I was playing at the museum repeatedly, I was ignoring a prompt from the game to go see Ray at his bookstore across from the firehouse. When I finally acquiesced, Ray was at the counter with a large book that had a very familiar title: Tobin’s Spirit Guide.
Little did I know that Ray was literally opening a gateway into the spirit world. As the game had advertised, I was about to play as a ghost.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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