Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is the newest top down, dual-stick, shooter released for the XBLA. If you’re a Ghostbusters fanboy, this sounds like a great idea. Don’t get too excited just yet, as you may end up wasting 800 Microsoft points.
The premise of the game is the original Ghostbusters need a break, so they bring in the new guys: Alan, Bridget, Samuel, and Gabriel. If these names sound a little cliched, I’m looking at you Gabriel, it’s because they are. If the game had a better mode of story telling, other than comic strips between chapters, it could maybe flesh the characters out a little more. Oh what could have been.
The co-op aspect of the game is okay. It takes the game from abysmal to kind of tolerable. If you play the single player expect to run through the story like a hot knife through butter. Until the 10th chapter that is. Then you run into a brick wall, which is extremely difficult to get around without the help of three human players. This is due to the stupidity of your AI teammates. They are good for reviving downed teammates, and that’s about it. They use the wrong weapons on the wrong enemies, are often just standing in the middle of a room doing nothing, and overall completely useless.
When the Xbox Live co-op works, it’s great. There are connectivity issues with the game though. Since SoS doesn’t have “drop in drop out” multiplayer this causes issues with a player over Xbox Live gets kicked from the game. It forces everyone to back out of the game they’re in and restart the level. While lagging out doesn’t happen very often, but it will happen, it is a huge hassle when it does.
The graphics in SoS are decent. When there’s a lot of action going on, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of where you are on screen. This is an issue at first but once you figure your character’s colored ring, it gets a little easier. There isn’t a big variety of levels either. The levels you do have feel like something that came out on the XBLA two or three years ago. Like most of the game, they’re not that bad, but not great either. The main level design is to walk to a room, get locked in and beat all the enemy ghosts, then move on to the next room and repeat. The bosses at the end of each chapter are interesting, and well done. They are all original and fun to play. If only every chapter in the game were that way.
The music in SoS is very repetitive, and mediocre. The game opens with the original licensed Ghostbusters theme song. This induces an extreme feeling of nostalgia, and gets you pumped up for busting some ghosts. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends. The game recycles the same few songs over and over again. There is no voice acting, just the same songs and sound effects over and over again.
The game controls actually handle very well. The hit detection is dead on most of the time, and switching between your different colored proton packs on the fly works well. In level three you get your final weapon. From then on you play with the red, yellow, blue proton packs. You have to shoot certain ghosts/goblins with their corresponding proton pack. This is as simple as it gets, which makes it a relatively simple dual stick shooter for people new to the genre.
The 11 chapters in the game consist of around 4 or 5 original levels. Half way through the game you play back through the same levels you’ve already done. This seemed like a way to make the game a little longer, without having to come up with new levels and enemies. There are, however, two levels in the game where you ride through the streets while standing on top of a 4×4. You have to protect the 4×4 from the constant attackers while you move from point A to point B. The good gameplay controls don’t hold up on these levels, where it feels that instead of shooting in a circle you have maybe seven or eight points that the beams seem to always fall on. This makes getting the hardest Achievement in this game (DON’T TOUCH THE CAR) very frustrating to obtain.
Overall the game is good for one playthrough, if you can make it through it. Using a team via Xbox Live is your best bet, and will enhance the experience, at least a little bit. If you like easy Achievements, then this is a good game to check out as well. Playing with a good team of 4 you can get almost every Achievement on one play through, which takes two and a half to three hours. Once this one playthrough is finished, and you have your Achievements, there’s little reason to play through the Story Mode again.
If you’re a diehard Ghostbusters or dual stick shooter fan, then Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime if definitely worth checking out. If you’re not then you should probably just play the free trial.
*Atari provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.