Review: Ghostbusters – Sanctum of Slime

I loved Ghostbusters as a kid, in fact it still remains one of my favourite films. I played the Spectrum game to death too, and so Sanctum of Slime got me very interested indeed when it was announced by Atari. A top down, dual-stick shooter had potential to become a brilliant use of the Ghostbusters name but sadly what we’ve ended up with is something only mildly less irritating than those 118 adverts that have done their best to ruin the famous title music.

Everything starts reasonably well, with the Ghostbusters theme tune belting out at the main menu, still sounding great some 27 years after it first echoed through cinemas around the country. There’s a lengthy comic-based story to introduce the idea behind the game, accumulating in the realisation that you won’t be controlling Ray or Egon at all. No. You’ll be taking charge of one of four rookie ghost catchers hired to give the four “real” characters some help. You won’t really see the main guys much after this point. This is when the disappointments begin.

After a little while with the game, it becomes quite apparent that this isn’t really a true Ghostbusters game. It’s just a twin-stick shooter dressed up with a proton pack. Yeah there are some ghosts to shoot at, and there’s a decent Ghostbustersish story, but there are so many things that break the Ghostbusters formula that it loses it’s feel a little. Proton streams can be readily crossed without incident, and you’ll end up with a range of coloured weapons to choose from in order to dispose of the correspondingly coloured bad guys. I don’t remember Venkman having to worry about selecting the right option to capture a blue ghost. Obviously these things are needed to make the game more, well, game-like but couple them with the lack of main characters and it’s very detached from the main theme.

It’s not all bad, not at all. Get together with two or three friends and things pick up considerably, mainly as a result of the AI characters during a single player game being a bit dim. Being able to revive your mates when they’ve been knocked down adds an element of teamwork largely missing from the single player, and let’s face it games are nearly always more fun with other people involved. Not only that there is a satisfying range of locations to fight through, and even if the gameplay is basically the same from start to finish having to work your way through hotels, graveyards and a few other places keep things fairly fresh, and the levels on the back of a 4×4 are quite good fun too.

But it’s not enough, especially when you reach a boss and find the difficulty sometimes spikes so violently you end up repeating the same chunk of game a few times before you can move on. It’s a hard game to score, because many things that make the single player so annoying (your other ghostbusters not using the right weapons and being slow to revive you) are fixed by playing with friends, but when playing online with friends isn’t as easy as it should be even this potential lifeline falls a little flat.

I’m really, really disappointed. I had high hopes for a fun, exciting Ghostbusters title but in reality after the first couple of levels it’s neither fun nor exciting on your own. If you’re a Ghostbusters obsessive or have a full compliment of friends to be able to get 4 human players at once then you might get something out of it, but otherwise Sanctum of Slime is probably left sitting in a pile of goo in the corner.

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