Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a 2009 crossplatform action game based on the Ghostbusters film franchise. Terminal Reality developed the Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions, while Red Fly Studio developed the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Wii versions, and Zen Studios developed the Nintendo DS version. The game was released after several delays in development and multiple publisher changes. In North America, all versions of the game were published by Atari, while publishing in Europe for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 versions was handled by Sony Computer Entertainment.
The game follows the player's character as a new recruit in the Ghostbusters, a team of parapsychologists who pursue and capture ghosts. The game features elements of typical third-person shooters, but instead of using a traditional gun, players are equipped with a "proton pack", a laser beam-like weapon, and a ghost trap to fight and capture ghosts. The game's plot is set around Thanksgiving in 1991, with the Ghostbusters team training the player's character while investigating paranormal activities in New York City.
Many of the principal cast members from the films were involved in the game's production. Each of the actors who portrayed the Ghostbusters in the films, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson, lent their voices and likenesses to the in-game characters. Aykroyd and Ramis, who wrote the films, also aided in minor script doctoring for the game. Other film cast members, such as William Atherton, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Annie Potts lent their voices and likenesses to the game's characters as well. Ghostbusters: The Video Game also contains the soundtrack from the original Ghostbusters film, along with various characters, locations, and props featured in the films. Ghostbusters creator Dan Aykroyd has said that "this is essentially the third movie."
The game is a third-person shooter, placing players in the role of an original character simply known as "Rookie", a new recruit to the Ghostbusters team. Players control Rookie's movements as he explores the environments of each level, seeking out paranormal activities and ghosts, either alone or with up to all four of the other Ghostbusters. Players can switch to a first-person perspective by equipping the Rookie with the PKE Meter and goggles. In this mode, paranormal items are highlighted and the PKE Meter will help direct players to ghosts or haunted artifacts. Players can scan these elements to gain more information about them and receive a monetary reward. Weapons cannot be used in this mode. . Outside of the first-person view, players can aim and fire the proton pack's beam to weaken ghosts so they can be captured in a ghost trap. However, continuous use of the pack will cause it to overheat. The pack can be manually vented to cool it down. While the pack is overheated or being vented, players will momentarily be unable to use the pack's weapons. Once a ghost is weak enough, players can switch to the capture beam to maneuver the ghost into a ghost trap. With a ghost in the capture beam, players can also execute a "slam" attack to force it against a hard surface, weakening it further and making it easier to trap the ghost. The capture beam can also be used to move objects in the environment.
The single player campaign for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and 3, and Wii versions is the same. Over the course of the game, the proton pack is upgraded to include an additional firing mode for the Proton Stream, a Shock Blaster, a Meson Collider, and a positively-charged Slime Blower, each with an alternate firing mode (A Stasis Stream, Overload Pulse and a Slime Tether (see below)). The Slime Blower's alternative mode is a Slime Tether which can be used to pull objects together and to solve some environmental puzzles. By capturing ghosts, as well as identifying haunted artifacts and new species of ghosts using the PKE Meter, players earn in-game money to spend on upgrades to proton pack modes and ghost traps. The game also tallies monetary destruction caused by the player, with Xbox 360 Achievements and PlayStation 3 Trophies awarded for either minimizing damage done, or for causing a high amount of damage.
Many achievements' names come from quotes in the films like, for example, the "You Gotta Try This Pole" achievement. Ray says "You Gotta Try This Pole" when he tries out the pole for the first time. Other quote achievements are "I Looked Into the Trap, Ray", "I Feel So Funky", "You Never Studied" and others.
In place of a traditional heads-up display, the player's health and weapon status are represented as meters on the rear of the proton pack. Health regenerates over time if the player does not take further damage. However, by taking more damage, they can be knocked down; if there are other Ghostbusters still standing, they will attempt to reach the player and revive him/her. Similarly, the player can help revive fallen team members. However, should all the active Ghostbusters fall, including the player, play will end and the player will have to restart at the last checkpoint.
The Wii, PlayStation 2, and PSP differ slightly from the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows versions in some aspects. In addition to the cartoon-like graphics and the E10+ rating, the Wii version uses the Wii Remote for gameplay. Visual aspects of the interface are relocated, such as placing the proton pack's temperature meter as a HUD element instead of on the backpack. In these versions, the player "slams" a ghost by initiating a Simon Says-type game with the ghost. The player is also given the option to play as a man or woman.
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions exclusively feature online multiplayer. Players can play online in a cooperative mode with up to three others in a variety of missions outside of the main storyline. These include capturing as many ghosts in a limited period or attempting to defend ghost disruptors as they are charged up. The Wii version is the only other platform to feature multiplayer, with the entire single player mission playable by two players in split-screen mode.
The DS version developed by Zen Studios is completely different from the other versions and has been compared to Activision's old Ghostbusters computer game. Making use of the DS's touch screen, this version features isometric action, as well as driving sequences and elements of resource management and has a E rating.
The events of the game occur during Thanksgiving Day 1991, two years after the events in Ghostbusters II. The Ghostbusters are training a new recruit, who Dr. Venkman insists they simply call "Rookie". A large PKE shockwave then hits New York City, and sends the team on a variety of calls to capture ghosts that result from it, including the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Throughout these calls, they are hounded by Walter Peck, now head of the Paranormal Contract Oversight Committee (P-COC) as appointed by Mayor Jock Mulligan, who warns them about causing too much damage in their ghost capturing activities. The Ghostbusters discover through a series of adventures and encounters with museum curator Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn that Ivo Shandor, the architect who designed 55 Central Park West that was once used to summon Gozer, had also designed a network of tunnels to channel ectoplasmic slime through the city, including specific Shandor-renovated buildings acting as nodes on a mandala, as a means to merge the real world with the Ghost World and bring forth another Great Destructor like Gozer. The Ghostbusters help to destroy the nodes and capture the node guardians at the Sedgewick Hotel, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of Natural History.At the last node in the middle of the Hudson River they discover a mansion on an island rising from the water. As they explore it, they find that the island belonged to Shandor and that Ilyssa is his descendant. They also discover machines pumping the slime into the tunnel network and disable them as well as the final Mandala node, and escape the island just before it sinks back into the water.
When they return to the mainland, the Ghostbusters find that Ilyssa was captured and the containment vault shut down, releasing the ghosts, and suspect that Peck has been possessed and is trying to call forth a Great Destructor. A massive mausoleum appears in Central Park as the team fights their way into the central structure. Inside, they find both Ilyssa and Peck chained to walls and discover Mayor Mulligan possessed by Ivo Shandor himself who used Peck as a scapegoat to avoid detection. The Ghostbusters are able to exorcise Shandor from the Mayor before he can sacrifice Ilyssa as part of a ritual, but are pulled into the Ghost World where they are forced to fight Shandor in his Destructor form, a Satan-like being called the Architect. They manage to defeat Shandor by crossing their proton streams, and return back to the real world, where they rescue Ilyssa, Peck, and the Mayor before the mausoleum collapses.
During the credits, the four Ghostbusters determine that five of them is just too many, but decide to offer Rookie a position as the head of a yet-to-be-opened Ghostbusters franchise in another city.
In 2006, game developer Zootfly started work on a Ghostbusters game before having secured the rights to develop the game from Sony. The company subsequently released videos of an early version of the game onto the Internet. However, the company was unable to secure the rights to develop the game as a Ghostbusters game. Zootfly then continued development of the game as a non-Ghostbusters themed game renamed TimeO.
Coincidentally, in the Spring of 2007, Sierra Entertainment and developer Terminal Reality met with Sony to discuss the possibility of developing their own Ghostbusters video game. The positive reaction that Zootfly’s videos garnered helped sell the concept of such a game to Sony. After a successful pitch, Terminal Reality started developing the game, eventually stating that the PS3 was the lead development platform. One of the game's features that Terminal Reality promoted was a crowd artificial intelligence system to be used extensively for a Thanksgiving Day parade level that was eventually cut from the final version.
Development of the game stopped when Vivendi merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard. On July 28, 2008 Activision Blizzard (the publisher of Vivendi's and Sierra's titles) announced that only five franchises would be released through Activision. Ghostbusters was not one of them and was put in developmental limbo following the announcement. The Sierra PR team later confirmed that the game was not and would not be cancelled.
Ending months of speculation, Infogrames announced on November 7, 2008, that Atari would be releasing the game in June 2009, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first film's theatrical release. At the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony confirmed that the game would be released on June 16 in North America and June 19 in Europe, alongside Blu-Ray releases of the Ghostbusters films. Sony later announced that they would be publishing the PS2 and PS3 versions in Europe granting the Sony consoles a timed exclusive release, while Atari would publish the game for other consoles later in the year. Atari would remain the sole publisher for the games in North America. Despite Namco's purchase of Atari's European operations, this release schedule remained intact. The Xbox 360 version of the game is not region locked, allowing gamers in European markets to import and play the North American Xbox 360 release.
Terminal Reality reported total development costs between $15 and 20 million. They have also expressed interest in making a game based on the possible third Ghostbusters film.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game met with generally positive reception. Greg Miller of IGN gave both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions an 8.0 out of 10. Miller describes the game as a "love letter to Ghostbusters fans", saying that it "makes you feel like you are really a Ghostbuster". He lauds the CGI cutscenes as a positive feature, but finds fault with stiff character animation and bad lip sync. Miller gave the Wii version a 7.8 out of 10. Unlike Miller, fellow reviewer Matt Casamassina believed that the aiming system in Ghostbusters was better than the aiming system in Resident Evil 4.  PSM3 gave the game a score of 85 out of 100, stating that the game was "too short, but packed with quality and imagination." The A.V. Club gave the game a B-, noting that it was the best Ghostbusters game. Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot rated the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game a 7.5 out of 10, listing the ghost-trapping gameplay and multiplayer mode as positives and frustrating spots in the game and repetitive gameplay as negatives. He also reviewed the Wii version and gave it a 8 out of 10 stating that "Ghostbusters is such riotous fun that you'll forgive its short length."
Ars Technica has reported graphical differences between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. Despite the fact that both versions were developed simultaneously by Terminal Reality, Ars claims that the PS3 version appears to use lower quality textures compared to the Xbox 360 version.