Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed REVEW (PS4/PS5)
''I AINT AFRAID OF NO GHOST''
Genre: Asymmetrical Multii-Player
Release Date: Oct 18th,2022
Platforms: PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox Family
*Review copy provided to me by Illfonic*
*THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed is an asymmetrical multiplayer title that is developed and published by Illfonic. With the rise of asymmetrical games currently going nuts in the market with Dragon Ball Breakers, Evil Dead and Dead By Daylight just to name a few, Illfonic decides its time give Ghostbusters its fair shake at this genre, cause after all, Illfonic are no strangers to asymmetrical. But does Illfonic improve on the groundwork they started with Friday the 13th? or is it back to the drawing board till another day? Only one way to find out, so lets bust some ghosts!
The Ghostbusters are back up and running once again thanks to Ray and Winston's time and money and it's time to get back to business. With a revamped firehouse and recruitment being open, its up to you, as the player, to see if you have what it takes to be the brand new team member of the Ghostbusters in order to face the incoming ghostly threats that are sure to come.
Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed is one of these rare oddity games in a way. Not because it's bad or strange or a ghoul of game, no that's not it. I find it a rare oddity because it somehow manages to make itself into both a competent video game, but at the same time, act as a sequel to the original films as well - definitely more so than Afterlife felt, don't even get me started on that. With Illfonic previously releasing an asymmetrical game to very mixed reviews, with that game being Friday The 13th, they figured they had to step up their game, especially with an IP as cherished and loved as Ghostbusters... and for the most part, they do succeed, but.. there are some ugly edges here and there that can be improved on going forward in patches or in future titles they might create in the asymmetrical market. So enough blah blah blah, more haunting and busting. Its time to show all these ghosts how we do things down town.
As your games introduction opens up, you're greeted by one of the classic ex-Ghostbusters themselves, Ray. He gives you a nostalgic run down on all the political mumbo jumbo that took place after the movies, how Ghostbusters were shut down at one point, but now they're back and better than ever, albeit on a smaller capacity as they try to rebuild what they once were. Upon talking to Ray and exploring his occult store, which looks amazing by the way, the graphical style really fits this universe nicely - you are told to meet with the woman who runs local operations here at Ghostbusters HQ, a woman named Catt. Since you're a rookie on the job and in training, she tells you to suit up and head into the side alley to get used to the controls and how to use both your proton pack and your particle thrower, because let's be honest, you don't want to end up crossing the streams and winding up destroying half of the downtown area now, would you? I didn't think so. After looking at the funny Stay Puft Marshmallow Man painting on the side of the wall, now saying Stay Burnt, which is referencing the first movies showdown with the big puff fluff, you finally get to business by shooting cardboard ghosts with our particle beam, wrapping it around and tethering a decoy ghost by pressing R2 and while held and tethered, tossing a ghost trap with L2, opening it and then fighting your hardest to drag it down into the trap for one successful capture. Its really not as easy as it sounds. I mean its easier than capturing Louis the terror doggo in Ghostbusters, but still. You're on a cool down meter with your particle thrower and should you use it too much, you must press Square to cool it down and then continue using it as you see fit.
Heading back into the main building you meet up with Winston and learn he is the man behind the Ghostbusters revival, well financially that is, he dishes out the checks and helps run the business at the corporate level, but in house, that's all Catt for all our gear and job leads. Having now been through the tutorial, it now unlocks the customization, which is your standard customization, nothing really special if I'm going to be honest, nothing as grand and marvelous as VIGO! but its passable. Now this is the part where you're supposed to get started on your jobs for the main story and the overall online game itself, but did I? heck no, I had to explore this damn building to see what I could find. Making my way to the basement, I find the ghost containment unit where the guys used to deposit all the ghosts into. I've always wanted to use one of these, luckily I'm not a complete jerk like that dirt bag Walter Peck was when he shut down the power, got Ghostbusters arrested and unleashed havoc on the entire city. Yeah, I'm not THAT big of a dumb dumb. My kid giddy-ness was not at its end yet though, even with besides shooting my particle beam all over the place like a 5 year old amped on a sugar high, I needed to get upstairs for one reason and one reason only, I NEED TO SLIDE DOWN THE POLE, like NOW. So like the fangirl I am, I ran up the stairs, jumped on the pole and wee, I got to live out my dream... again... and again... again.. and.. you get it, I couldn't help myself. But you aren't here for me fangirling out, you want to know how the dang game is, I get it, so let's get into the core aspects of this title then.
In case you haven't heard, Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed is a 4v1 asymmetrical multiplayer game pits you as members of the Ghostbusters against creepy haunting ghosts that aim to stand in your way. On its surface it sounds very basic, but basic is what its anything but. First we'll get you started with you as a Ghostbuster and then work our way into the ghosts that will also be playable, yes, even our good ol friend Slimer is here. When you're given your first mission, which is to go to the Whitestone Museum due to a report of haunting, you're tasked with multiple objectives, your first being to destroy three Rifts found around the map, these Rifts are hidden in pots, chairs, signs, etc and contain a ethereal like portal that can be accessed by Ghosts in order to respawn or transport through to give them the advantage, destroying these are key, but it takes all 4 Ghostbusters to take just one down, so teamwork is vital. Your second objective is to find any civilian in the area and try to calm them down, so they aren't screaming like a freak like Rick Moranis was when he outside the restaurant window. This must be done because should the museum reach a 100% haunted rating, game over, you lose more than Gozer's fashion designer. Anyone can put on bubble wrap, so not sure what the thought process was there, but were getting off topic here.
To calm down these freaks of nature, you enter a semi mini game where you must keep holding down circle and press R2 at the right time, twice, this will cause them to calm down, however, screw it up and they'll scream louder than Kevin in Home Alone. So far so good right? well you aren't done because you still got to catch those dang ghosts. This is where more of the shows gadgets come into play, like the reliable P.K.E. meter. Just as it works in the movies, it responds by sensing paranormal activity in the area, no, not the ice maker sounding trash paranormal from that crappy movie series, nope, the awesome cool kind. Use the P.K.E. meter to follow the track of a ghost you're after and once you've discovered it, use all your skills you've learned to wrangle it and bust it. My first time chasing a ghost was hectic, man it was hard for me, I'm really bad, I kept trying to tether and throw at the same time, but my coordination is so off that I kept getting slimed instead... slime in orifices I didn't even know I had, right Ray? lucky its fairly easy to get off you by tapping circle to swat it away. Completing this mission and the next job after, which is another busting objective, gains you access to MORE POLE SLIDING, YES. I mean.. multiplayer mode that now allows you to play with friends or strangers and even play as Ghosts themselves.
After completing Whitestone Museum and a Prison haunting, the story kicks back with Ray having something urgent to tell you, its about a book called Tobin's Spirit Guide that has lots of mysterious powers, much to his surprise, the book takes a liking to you and sucks you in without a second thought, almost like Ray's encounter with a ghost in the.. uhh yeah were not going there. From here you learn from the Spirit guide how to become an ugly purple ghost, which looks like this purple ghoul toy I had when I was kid, and this is when you finally learn to play as a ghost. The ghosts, If I'm going to be honest, has WAY more depth in its classes and playability, for example there are 5 different types of ghosts, Ectoplast that are beginner classes that focus on sliming, Ghouly ghost types that specialize in possessions and raising haunting meter, Basher ghost types can be considered the tank of the bunch, they're harder to tether and take at least two Ghostbusters to take down, Howler ghost types are focused on staying away and using ranged attacks to be annoying since they have a longer life span for minion summons and finally we have Poltergeist types. No not the kind that need to go into the light, poltergeist ghost types are the decoy ghost. Think of Haunter and Gastly in Pokemon Indigo league where all they want to do is to play pranks and laugh, that's poltergeist ghost in a nutshell, except you play pranks by sabotaging the Ghostbusters proton packs, in true Dennis The Menace fashion. How do they play exactly though, sure, you can attack the Ghostbusters but how do you know... actually play as them? Now hang on, you better sit down for this one because what I'm about to say might shock you more than one of Peter Venkman's rigged psychic tests. Are ready? is it in your mind? clear your mind and tell me what you're thinking of. Wait, huh? I told you to clear your mind, not think of a 50ft tall string cheese monster! you're as bad as Ray with Stay Puft. Sigh.
Your main objectives as a Ghost are to haunt to 100%, protect all Rifts from being destroyed by possessing items they're held in and moving them around, use abilities such as using L1 as Ectoplast shoot little minions, Triangle to do a slime Tornado that's usable every 300 seconds, move to objects and press square to possess it and walk around and move with it, which is funny, like out of an old cartoon, haunt items to raise haunting level percentage, press R3 to phase and dash through walls, be a jerk and scare the living crap out of civilians.. which is something Ickis couldn't do in Real Monsters, sabotage Ghostbuster proton packs to buy yourself more haunting time, fight out of tethers by button mashing your little heart out, etc. Once you've got the hang of it, you're able to go back to Ray's shop via Tobin's Guide and return to the Ghost Realm at any point time you want to customize your ghosts and unlocking new ghosts any time you want. Yes that's right, there's no game of luck, you can literally be a ghost at any time, whenever you want. This was HUGE for me after coming out of games like Dragon Ball Breakers where it's a low percentage to be able to play as a Raider. But what of the Ghostbusters, we know the basics of how they play, but what about the leveling up systems, attacks, gear? well that goes along the lines of the Extra Stuff section more so than the normal game cause naturally you'll level up and to do further missions is when all the extras and upgrades will come into play as you do the side content.
When you're done with small storyline this title has to offer, done sliding down the pole and even get get done laughing at the dancing toaster on top of the pool table, that is a direct reference to Ghostbusters 2, which is awesome, you will meet a character named Eddy who is the go to for all upgrades for your equipment and gear, such as your Particle thrower that fires your iconic beam and terhers ghosts, Proton Pack, your P.K.E. meter to detect ghosts, ghost trap used to capture ghosts, V.A.D. which is your grapple hook to pull you to higher floors, ionizer pods that release a cloud particle to slow down enemy ghosts, Radar Puck , when using it, if a ghost triggers it will boost your P.K.E. signature and Ecto Goggles that allow you to detect ghosts hiding in objects and people. Now other than the main gear, not all of these are accessible straight from the get go, first you must use each item and level them up individually as your player level is NOT the same as your gear item level. You like a specific set of gear, just freaking use it ya big goof and you'll level it up, super simple. But there are ways to accelerate this process so that it doesn't become a boring and tedious task, thankfully. Harness your inner Egon and collect fungus and spores to build up your collection inside the Ghostbusters HQ and get extra experience points per map, which is as gross as having an earwax collection, get more experience points during matches by causing the least amount of damage that you can to the facility you're trying to un-haunt, cause I mean, why worry? each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on our back, what could possibly go wrong?
You can also take part in side hustles outside the main missions that give you opportunities for way more experience points for both player level and your gear levels. Think of these as challenges to complete, such as breaking out of tether as a ghost or completing a number of objectives, and once complete, you will get experience points for it or customization items for your Ghostbuster. Play offline mode and compete against enemy bots so that you can still level up with the same amount of E.X.P. that you do with online play, complete research contracts found in Eddy's lab on the upper floor of the firehouse, these act in a similar manner to side hustles, however, they aren't obtainable till you reach level 20, so you'll have to wait a little bit before attempting. I know I hear the slight groaning from you, you don't want to grind, but hey don't look at me, I didn't make the game, you go and tell the developers that ''You're short, your bellybutton sticks out too far, and you're a terrible burden on your poor mother'' cause I sure am not going to because I have other gripes with this title that I need to address.
While there are some things I dislike about this game, they aren't fully game breaking or a detour to your enjoyment, but they are things that should be addressed with patches. For one thing, currently the game is sort of unbalanced with the ghosts having way too much arsenal and variations of attacks to use against enemy ghostbusters due to being able to move rifts around when they want. For example the game basically has a clock it runs on, which is your haunting percentage, should a ghost player be really good or average even, they can hide in any items by possessing it or put a rift way in a tight tucked away corner and just run out the click, boom, we came, we saw, we kicked its ass! match over. It makes for a very low win rate for the Ghostbusters team. Second gripe is the lack of customization variety. A lot of the facial models and voices sound pretty identical to one another so even though you attempt to create something unique, it still feels like you're creating more of the same unless you REALLY know what you're doing and spend hours tinkering around, which honestly isn't worth it.
At the end of the day, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed while not a perfect game with ghosts being too versatile, matches feeling a little unbalanced, character customization being very underwhelming - still ends up a rather enjoyable experience due to the attention and care put into the aesthetics of the Firehouse, staying true to what people love about Ghostbusters down to its gadgets, overall design and classic music, offering you a chance to finally live out your dream as a Ghostbuster for the first time since 2009's video game and even expanding on it by letting you upgrade all your classic gear with extra parts too boost stats, fun and inviting cooperative and solo gameplay that makes this a really good pick up and play game, etc, there's just so much to love in this title if you're a fan of the franchise and if you're one of those fans, like myself, then you owe it yourself to give this one a try for sure. It's a haunting of a good time. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says, ''ARE YOU A GOD?''. Huh, wait no no, I mean, GameNChick says BUY NOW.