Ghostbusters came out for iOS devices in early January of this year, but it wasn’t until the 24th when the big update came out that I noticed it. I was expecting the usual “Freemium” game where you just mindlessly tap a button for a few minutes a day but what I actually found was a surprisingly deep Real Time Strategy where you manage your team of spook hunters and their special abilities. Here now are ten quick thoughts on the game.
1. The plot revolves around Scott, the big haired kid at the beginning of the original Ghostbusters movie who wants revenge on Dr. Venkman for all those electroshocks he was put through by him. It turns out the kid is a very powerful but latent psychic and his need for revenge is being manipulated by an evil shadowy figure. Nice nod to the movie continuity here.
2. The core of the game has your team of Ghostbusters (all original generic characters) trying to clear out a fifty foot tower of ghosts. Each tower is blocked by a wall of slime and you’ll have to do routine clean ups around New York City to earn slime points. Get enough and you can tackle the next level. With fifty levels and a ton of grind work, Ghostbusters is going to take even the most ardent gamer some time to clear out.
3. Each battle in the game pits your core team of Ghostbusters against a horde of ghosts. There are three difficulty levels, each of which dictates the number of ghosts you have to take out to clear, as well as how many appear at once. Harder difficulty levels net you more cash and slime. Repeat the grind until you have enough slime to move up another level of the tower.
4. Each battle is a RTS, meaning you have to manage all three of your Ghostbusters at once, constantly moving them, aiming at different targets and using special abilities. Everything works pretty well as you draw a line from the Ghostbuster to where you want them to move or whom you want them to attack. The only problem with the gameplay is when you have character close together as the game might move the wrong Ghostbuster, or not recognize a command at all. Spread your guys out. That’s a big key to winning the harder battles.
5. There are three types of Ghostbusters. Wranglers have the most life and take the least amount of damage. Blasters do the most damage. Scientists can heal your party. Every five levels each character gets a choice of special abilities. You can always go back and switch between the two instead of being locked into one, which is very nice. I like the Wranglers best personally.
6. You can have up to four Ghostbusters on your team, but you have to purchase the fourth one with Power Cores. A new Ghostbuster (one of the four original!) costs 50 Power Cores, which comes out to be about five dollars. A fourth team member really makes things easier damage and survival-wise, but it does mean you have an extra guy on hand to micromanage. The original Ghostbusters are more powerful than your generic starters, but you are going to have to pay cash money for them as I’ve yet to find a way to reliably add more Power Cores to your game. If you do decide to get one, I’d suggest Peter Venkman or Ray Stantz as they have the best stats.
7. Leveling up is the hardest part in the game. You don’t earn XP to level up. Instead it is a twofold process. First you have to find a manual in the tower that will allow you to break your current level cap. Then it’s a specific number of battles to level up. So if you don’t find a manual, you don’t get any growth, meaning your grinds are just for levels and cash. I’ve never liked arbitrary caps or training needed to level up in a game, especially a pen and paper RPG, but this is a way to increase the length of the game. There’s no way to spend money on breaking the level cap at least, which is nice. The game is fun enough that you won’t mind the level cap, but at some point you’ll need that manual to get past certain battles as you just won’t be strong enough.
8. In-game money that you earn from busts goes towards researching ghosts and equipment. You can get items that make you move faster, do more damage and make your characters more resistant to damage. Purchasing equipment for characters costs only in-game money, and there is always plenty of it, so you never have to worry about funds. Researching new equipment can take a long time though although the game lets you spend Energy Cores to instantly speed things through. Since it’s cash money I prefer to wait as none of these items will really make or break your game. Save those Cores for a Real Ghostbuster…if you’ll excuse the pun.
9. Ghostbusters uses the complete soundtrack from the original movie. While there isn’t any voice acting, you do get to hear classic tracks that will stick in your head long after playing the game. I’m also happy to report that the in-game commentary by the original Ghostbusters as you play through the game honestly feels like something the characters would have said in the movie. You’ll hear the voices of Bill Murray, Dan Akryoid, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson in your head even if you don’t hear them coming out of your iPhone.
10. All in all, Ghostbusters is one of the best Freemium games I’ve ever played. It looks good, will make you laugh, offers some definite challenges for even the most experienced RTS gamer (mainly at higher levels and it will take you a long time to complete it. Best of all – you can get through the entire game without spending money, which is a rarity for Freemium titles. By all means, if you have an iOS device, go download Ghostbusters today. It’s a wonderful homage to a classic movie and you won’t regret picking this up for a second.