Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed Review – Frightening 4v1 – Game Informer

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Pairing odd multiplayer specialists IllFonic with a Ghostbusters license is a match made in the spirit realm. The previous outing Friday the 13th and Predator: Hunting Grounds pitted Jayson and Predator against Camp Counselors and mercenaries with flashes of greatness, but technical issues and uneven design choices held them back. With Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, the team has applied everything they learned about compelling contrasting multiplayer to a property that ties in perfectly with the play style.

Four fully customizable Ghostbusters face off against a ghost on five maps ranging from an Alcatraz-inspired prison to a cozy lodge. The main difference from other odd games is that both sides are fun to play. Unless you can play as a ghost, you’re just not passing time. However, if that’s all you want to do, it’s easy to set your preference and annoy random players online with little to no wait time (at least during my tests on launch day). The active initial player base and full crossplay between all platforms combine to make this happen, and it’s impressive to see such smooth execution right out of the gate. If you’re a fan of Ghostbusters who don’t like online multiplayer, it’s easy to play against non-challenging bots and still experience all the content.

The flow of the match begins with busters popping out with PKE meters drawn in to track the ghost and its reaction points. These cracks are hidden within the objects, and destroying them takes away one of the ghost’s three “lives”. If you encounter the ghost directly, you can stun it with your proton pack and wrap it in a trap to eat up a life. On the ghost side, you try to hunt down as many objects as possible and scare the wandering NPC citizens to increase the overall haunting level of the map. Once the ghost reaches 100 percent or the ghost breaks out of the crack, a final endgame timer begins. If the busters capture the ghost at that point, they win. The map is officially haunted if the ghost survives capture, and Buster runs away in shame.

When you see a ghost it’s extremely satisfying to call your buds and entangle him as a team. While Busters can be temporarily disabled with mud, no one ever sees the rest of the match in play. There is always hunting or blasting to do. The only low point on the buster side is pacifying NPCs along similar VO lines.

The five ghost types account for a variety of play styles. Do you want to be quick and mischievous, aggressive with God of War-style chain attacks, or use manipulation and misdirection moves? All ghosts have a basic attack, a minion summon (to capture busters or sinister civilians), a final move with a long cooldown, and a unique action that’s different for every skin. Keeping items close to you is the key to recharging the energy needed to hide from busters and do more. It’s interesting to experiment with how it handles everything, like a smooth rolling beer keg or a floppy giant teddy bear. While ghosts are extremely powerful and mobile, they are also too vulnerable to be caught at any time. In one minute you’ll triumphantly take down all four Busters and sabotage their proton packs, and the very next you’ll clench buttons to escape currents and deadly traps. It’s a pleasure to hear opponents’ confusion or their dismay while you’re out of sight as you cover the entire team in a whirlwind of mud.

The classic firehouse serves as a multi-use hub for when you’re not actively at matches. A handful of cutscenes tell a basic story through the game’s opening hours. The narrative is nothing to get excited about, but it’s nice to hear Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson reprising their roles as Ray and Winston. As you level up, you get new cosmetics, gear parts that affect stats, collectibles and contracts that reward special items and experience bumps. Daily and weekly jobs encourage you to check in regularly as well. I found that the constant flow of goodies pushed my group into lockers to try on a new shirt or silly glasses between jobs. And the gear upgrade feels tangible, especially when your particle thrower can stay loose for long periods of time without overheating.

While the core gameplay is strong and engaging, I have concerns about Spirits Unleashed’s long-term stability. There’s only one match type, so if you get tired of that, you’re out of luck. The five current maps are solid, but I’m ready for more (IllFonic claims additional free maps and ghosts will be revealed in the future). The story and unlocks keep things interesting during your first 30 character levels, but then the story comes to a grinding halt. You will get all the cores unlocked up to 50. In addition, the current endgame involves fulfilling high-level contracts such as “do X-objective 25 times” and so on. Sometimes I’d learn new aspects of the game I didn’t know before, but other times I’d be firing bot matches to hunt down floor waxers, or repeatedly pulling out my nets and doing something annoying. Picks it up to check the requirement. ,

The pre-release version of the game had some hard crashes, and I even got stuck in the geometry as a ghost a couple of times by the end of the match. I couldn’t replicate these issues after a patch, but it’s worth a look.

The ideal way to experience Spirits Unleashed is to circle your friends, roam through maps, play as a ghost, and proceed to hooting and hollers. If that isn’t an option, matchmaking with random players is intuitive and quick, and in-game markers make teamwork possible, even when everyone is playing off-mic. The thrill of Ghostbusting eventually begins to wane, but it takes a while to get to that point, and updates down the road could help keep those proton packs humming.

Note: IllFonic Inc. provided the game codes for this review.

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