Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime

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Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
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Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
Action
PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Reviews based on the XBLA version
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Behaviour
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Achievement Guide Available
Ghostbusters is a franchise that has never died down. Between two smash movies, hit animated series, and a slew of other things such as a spin-off television animated series, comics book series, a number o terrible games, action figures, and more. While the Ghostbusters games have gradually been getting better, the demand of the passionate fans of the films for the third installment has been strong, especially when word came out that there originally was a third film planned that never happened, but thanks to this sudden increase in fame it appears that it may come to light. Recently, Atari secured the rights to this franchise, and issued the Ghostbusters video game for all leading console platforms. However, for home consoles, and gamers into trophies/achievements, the games were broken, and at the point of this review are still broken, or require you to redo everything on a different tag, something that many fans didn’t want to have to do. So, when it was announced a new title in the series would be released, it left Atari in a position to really have to redeem themselves. Sadly, with Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, a top down Action shooter, it fails miserably.

Penned by IDW Publishing Comics editor Tom Waltz, Sanctum of Slime takes the story back thousands of years ago to a cult that worshipped an ancient demon named Dumazu. The cult mourns his death and eventually dies out, except for one man by the name of Ismael. As time passes, he finds himself in a mental institute, and continues on about the Relic of Nilhe, which is depicted as being found over time. Of course, Ismael encounters the one man in Ghostbusters canon thatwould believe him: Janosz Poha. Ismael tasks Janosz to obtain the Relic of Nilhe, and his reward would be none other then Dana Barrett, leaving the story to follow after the Ghostbusters II movie story line. The Ghostbusters have hired some recruits, and because of the hunt for the relic, they have to save the day and stop the revival of Dumazu.

While this sounds like a great idea for a fan script, the problem becomes that the story itself is completely rehashed from Ghostbusters II with very little originality outside of the comic book sequences that feel rather weak compared to the original source comic books, though clearly inspired by the supposed original third film script for Ghostbusters III: Ghostbusters in Hell. You go back through some familiar places from the film series, including the famous hotel, and going back to the sewers. The only problem is that much of it seems to follow the blueprint ideas from the first and second films, as well as the atmosphere of the Extreme Ghostbusters animated series. The rookies start out the same way as their mentors, having their first assignment in the hotel, then eventually continuing into the sewer to find the river of slime, which apparently is still there. Eventually the ghosts continue to grow in numbers and become worst, leading what feels like the end of days until you finally take on the ancient demon that has Yanosz basically brainwashed thanks to Ismael, the only difference is that Dumazu is not in a painting. Everything story-wise feels familiar and rehashes as you play through, and only really feels slightly altered from the source material.

The gameplay to Sanctum of Slime is pretty simple. The game takes on a Geometry Wars style contol scheme of moving with the left analog stick, and firing with the right analog stick, and utilizesa top-down camera view similar to that of Robotron 2084 and Smash T.V.. The controls are easy enough, but the game is set up to utilize three variations of the proton pack, all of which is meant to add some more difficulty to the game by representing three colors, and eventually having ghosts that take on those colors and are killed easier with the according colored weapon. Both the regular proton pack and the wave attack (red and yellow respectively) are what you would expect, but the dart proton attack (blue) is irritating due to it’s slim nature that fires at a restrained pace of one shot per every two seconds. This one also seems rather hard to aim compared to the other two. Movement, however, is about what you would expect and responds well enough. Another touch to the difficulty is having the Ghostbuster recruits slow down while firing.

The graphics to the game aren’t all that visually impressive either. While an HD set up was kept in mind due to the sharpness of the images, the overall graphics feel lacking. The game actually looks more like a visual PlayStation 2-like video at times, though the effects utilizd on he final product gives it a dark and stylish atmosphere to he song. The colors to represent which Ghostbuster you are also kind of suffers when you play, as sometimes you can’t tell the difference between them other then the color ring around them, and often even then you can lose track of which Ghostbuster you are easily. The enemies aren’t all that visually impressive either, and many just look uninspired. Around the fifth level you fight a giant subway train, and it’s an interesting battle, but the creature itself doesn’t really hold the interest of the game and in the end just feels comically over-the-top, whereas the simple ghosts in the start of the game feel much more believable as to the story line. You fight ghosts, slime creatures, inanimate objects altered by the slime far worst then the toaste in Ghostbusters II, as well as zombies, both of which feel tacked on and against the traditional Ghostbusters grain.

Practically each stage being overly repetitive, being simply a destroy the ghosts/creatures, walk to the next screen, repeat up to twelve more times with a boss fight at the end. There are a few other stages that break that insanely repetitive and overly boring mode of play, which includes two boss fight only stages, and two car chase stages, the latter of the two being the most difficult. While the boss fight stages are pretty obvious as to what you are expected to do, the car chase stages restrict your proton pack to the traditional beam with gargoyles and demonic flaming heads coming at you while driving through the city on the all new Ecto-4WD (four wheel drive, since these rookies use an SUV to get around), making periodic stops to shoot more waves of enemies.

This game features two different modes of play: Single Player and Multiplayer (local or over the internet), and that’s it. Outside of the additional achievements and trophies for the game, the developers also threw in collectables through the twelve stages, thirty total, which are pretty simple to find as they are typically found by destroying objects in the game. There is also a Stage Select option available, and that screen even shows how many collectables remain in the level. These add a little extra incentive to continue playing, but the main game itself comes off pretty short, with each stage taking anywhere between thirteen to twenty minutes each, leaving the game as a title that can be completed in one sitting, roughly four hours in length. For how much it costs, having only that many stages and a rather easy difficulty in the first place makes it a little less worth the money spent to play it. However, the short game play really isn’t the only reason for this game to not be worth the money.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is best played on Multiplayer mode for more reasons then one. Aside the fact that having three other humans playing at the same time and allowing some human interraction, it also gives you a slight edge to complete the game. Solo campaign is the exact same thing as the Multiplayer campaign, but the AI for the computer controlled characters is absolutely horrific. While the AI characters typically know which weapons to use on what enemies, and sometimes do help out in taking the enemies down, the only problem becomes that they are absolute idiots. These characters are designed to automatically run to you when you go down to revive you in the stage, which often will find them walking directly into enemy fire, slime on the floor, or the enemy him/herself. This will cause the AI to basically commit suicide on a regular basis. The characters will also just stand around and do absolutely nothing despite whether you and the others are alive or dead.

These issues really do hurt the overall experience, and kill the desire to continue to play the game. In Single Player mode, your AI will constantly die when you are incapacitated thanks to the methods outlined above. In later levels, it makes them impossible to complete, as the AI will always get in the way of enemy fire and typically die in seconds of the fight. On top of that, the AI will even break. On the final level, I watched the last AI Ghostbuster rookie run around in a circle in front of Dumazu while he was blasting away in front of him in the same spot. This went on for a good minute before he finally died and that screen reset, only to have them do that all over again. But, the glitches aren’t restricted primarily to the Single Player campaign, as this can happen in Multiplayer as well. While this mode is easily the suggested method of completing the game, you will need to fight with not being able to get in some rooms, as well as glitches making it impossible to continue. Again, personal experience showed a downed rookie on the ground, and myself and two others were unable to revive him, though the command to revive was on the screen. This led to us having to exit the level half way through, as you cannot continue unless all the men are there.

What it all boils down to is an idea for a Ghostbusters game that rehashes the earlier material with a newer story that is slightly unique for a more modern vibe. However, aside a rather lame story with some interesting comic strips that are poorly drawn but decently progress the story, insanely repetitive gameplay that becomes boring very quickly, a short game length, game breaking glitches, and no real reason to play past that one playthrough at all other then mopping up achievements and finding the collectables if you haven’t in the first run through. It’s definitey a game for the die hard Ghostbusters fans, but even they will find it’s an easy game to complete, but may not really be worth the frustration and boring repetition.

Overall Score: 3.5/10