Ghostbusters: Sanctum of SlimeESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Offline players 1 – 4
Offline co-op 2 – 4
Online multiplayer 2 – 4
Online co-op 1 – 4
Being a fan of Ghostbusters from the motion pictures, cartoon series and even the toys as a child (my favorite was Slimer) definitely had me interested in how an arcade title of Ghostbusters would fare. Being a bit skeptical about how it would match up to the attitude and humour that makes Ghostbusters, I booted up my Xbox 360, strapped on my proton pack and got my PKE meter ready to bust some ghosts.
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is presented for the most part in a top down view and the environments look sharp and are full of details. The variety of environments includes a hotel, city streets, sewers, an asylum and even a graveyard. Each environment has all the features of its real life counterpart but is infested by ghouls and ghosts creating a more haunted and in some cases a maniacal look.
In between each of the levels the story is told through a comic book strip that looks like it has literally been taken from a paper format and transplanted into the game. The artwork is amazing in the comic strip, showing off the skill of the artist and portraying the world of Ghostbusters pretty much perfectly. The only negative aspect of the comic strip style is that it takes around two to three minutes to read through before jumping back into the game; but I'm a faster reader than most so that time could easily double for a slower paced reader. There is an option to skip the dialogue but how are you supposed to know the story of the game without reading through the dialogue?
There are four different characters to choose from encompassing your team that include a variety of races and a female character. However, if I was making the characters for a title I would include a basic character generator so that race, sex, hair colour, uniform, etc. could be chosen quickly to fully customize your character. Alan, Samuel, Bridget and Gabriel do have their differences physically but in the heat of battle they pretty much look the same except for the coloured circle indicating the player controlling them.
The ghosts on the other hand offer a bit more variety in how they look, be it their physical appearance or one of the three colours: red, yellow or blue. The minor ghosts range from bellhops, flying skulls, cooks, gargoyles, slimes, salamanders and spiders. These are the ghosts you will face the most throughout the levels and you will also face some larger ghosts that act as bosses. The ghosts are crafted in a lot more detail and you can easily tell each one apart, but they aren’t that amazing overall.
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime opens up with the familiar theme song from the series and instantly sets the tone for the game with all too familiar lyrics. However, the rest of the music throughout the game doesn’t really bring up the memories the theme song does; but the instrumental pieces throughout the game do help set the mood for each of the levels.
The sound effects are simple and effective but don’t offer much to the game. Each of the weapon types has its own distinct sound and the particle thrower (the main weapon used in the movies) sounds exactly as it should. The characters have no voices, save for some word bubbles popping up on the screen and unfortunately even during cut scenes there are no vocals. The ghosts do make some noises but mainly consist of grunts and some ghostly sounds often associated with the paranormal.
Ghosts from all over are being drawn to New York City, and the original Ghostbusters are just too busy with work to deal with this new discovery so they throw the new recruits on the case to gain some real world experience at Ghost-Busting. The story of Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime starts 4000 years ago with the death of Dumazu, an ancient demon of death and destruction and continues in 1989 where the resurrection of Dumazu is at hand. This is where the recruits enter into the story and work their way through this new found mystery.
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is mainly a top down shooter with some simple controls that are easy to pick up and play. The right analog stick is used to shoot your weapon by pointing in the direction you want to aim and the left analog is used to control where your Ghostbuster moves. The only other controls you have to worry about are switching between your three weapons using the right and left bumpers. This control set up should be familiar to many top down shooter gamers and is a huge drawback in creating a unique and engaging title.
Ghostbusters: SOS takes the top down shooter controls and combines them with a dungeon crawling experience where you go through room by room clearing out enemies with your range of weapons and collecting power-ups (restore health, invincibility, extra damage, cash multipliers). Sometimes you will face a mini-boss part way through each level, but ultimately you face off against a boss at the end of most of the levels.
There are many games using this control type and Ghostbusters: SOS does it well, but the market for these types of games has become over saturated making this title a bit lackluster when it comes to unique controls. On a high note the gameplay does deviate slightly from the typical clear the enemies out of one room and move on to the next room by incorporating a vehicle level where you get to ride in the back of the ECTO-4WD and shoot at ghosts from the back of the truck. Rob, another member of the team, drives you around the streets while you protect the ECTO-4WD from being destroyed. After protecting the truck for a bit you will be stopped by blocked roads, be it from a crash or a fire hydrant, where you have to destroy a bunch more ghosts then hop back into the truck and continue the level.
As mentioned, the story is told through a comic strip style where everything is written out and you scroll through the text by pressing the A button to progress to the next piece of text. With such an in-depth story it should have been told in a different way because at times it felt as though I was doing more reading than actual playing. If I wanted to read an in-depth story I would pick up a book rather than pick up a video game. The story is a good, but takes a whole lot away from the game because of how long it takes to read.
The multiplayer availability with 2-4 players locally and online makes the gaming experience much more enjoyable than the single player experience. The game plays exactly the same but you aren’t stuck with mediocre computer controlled AI that can’t seem to recognize that it has to clear out some ghosts before trying to automatically heal a fellow team member. The AI running off to heal someone rather than attacking the ghosts often results in the whole team dying. Dying once in awhile is part of the game, but when it happens over 10 times in a row because the AI is horrible is a huge flaw in the game design. If you have a choice, play this game with friends or even someone online that has no gaming skills because it would be a better choice than playing with the AI controlled Ghostbusters.
The gameplay suffers from sub-par AI, repetitive levels and unoriginal controls but does manage to create a great story. A unique approach to gameplay combined with the ability to switch between characters would have made the gameplay much more playable.
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