It’s that time of the year when things start to go bump in the night, so what better time to call in everyone’s favourite spook busting team… Ghostbusters. Well, multiplayer specialists IllFonic have got you covered this Halloween season, as they have just released Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – the latest attempt to bring the iconic movie to the world of gaming. We say latest, but if you’re a fan you’ll know well that the spirit busting legends have had more than a few bites at the cherry and most of them have been nightmares in their own right.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is an asymmetric multiplayer affair, that sees a team of 4 busters teaming up to clean a number of ghost out of different locations. The game is actually a tie-in to the most recent movie – Ghostbusters: Afterlife – however you’d be hard pressed to spot it, as both tell very different tales and link “loosely”. Here you play as a rookie buster who has just joined the team, and yes you do get to customise your character to add that personal touch to things. After which you get to meet the rest of the team, this does drag a little as it’s extremely heavy on the talking and lore unload, but get through it and you get to bust your first ghost… sort of. You are then thrown into a tutorial that shows you the ropes of how to find, track, blast and ultimately trap your ghost.
Yet it’s not that easy, as there are a few things you have to watch out for, like your blaster overheating due to over usage and the trap closing, as they have a limited opening time. Once you get your head around things, you’re off into the world to tackle a number of different jobs. The more jobs you complete, the more story is fed to you through cut scenes, but this makes everything feel a bit disjointed. When not on missions you’ll be free to roam the firehouse to talk to the team… if you really must. You’ll also upgrade your kit, as well as spot a few Easter eggs along the way. As for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed’s gameplay, you’re dropped into a haunted location and have to clear out whichever spook is calling that place home. You’re against a meter that fills over time, if it fills completely… it’s game over. So you’d best be quick! This is far from a smash and grab affair, as each ghost has a number of rifts you must close first, before catching them. If you don’t then the ghost will respawn and while you’re doing that, the ghost throws a number of nasties at you, as well as scaring the locals who you must keep calm. If the ghost fills the bar you’re into the end game where it’s do or die in more ways than one. You have one minute to find and trap it, but if it can dodge you it’ll win. It’s a game built around teamwork and working with your teammates is key to getting the victory.
With this being an asymmetric multiplayer, you can also be the thing that goes bump in the night if you should wish. And it’s down to you to fill that meter by being a scare master, while being a pain in the backside to the Ghostbusters team. It’s a fun and fairly well balanced offering, though it’s not without its issues. Given the size of locations in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, a mini-map would have been more than welcome. Often the busters just end up wandering areas without a clue what to do. There are also more than a few rough edges, which manifest as little glitches both in game and on the visual side, impacting the fun a bit. It’s also a bit little on the mode side, as beyond the core mode there isn’t really anything else to do. This is fine if you’re doing each job with your mates, or you’re a badass ghost… but it does see boredom setting in after a bit.
Visually the game looks the part with lots of spooky greens and purples washing over the different locations and the audio also hits a sweet spot using more than a few tunes from the movies. Plus Ernie Hudson aka Winston Zeddemore and Dan Aykroyd aka Raymond “Ray” Stantz reprise their roles for this outing too. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a fun and mostly balanced asymmetric multiplayer that captures the core feeling of the source material, but it’s light on modes and content which does hold it back in the long term.
An Xbox review copy of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed was provided by IllFonic’s PR team, and the game is available now on Xbox, PlayStation and PC for around £35.