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Ghostbusters Day#7: Beginning of the End

In today’s session, I get into what are clearly the last few scenes before the finale. The goods and bads of before continue: some nice fights and some decent story corrupted by some terrible agency choices and near-absent feedback. And the game reaches a new low on savepoint design. Spoilers within.

Back into the fray. More tunnels, more going back miles to the savepoint at the beginning of the sewer scene when I die. It takes me only a couple times to figure out the lava throwers in the tunnels, so it’s not too much longer.

I come out into a larger chamber, and the rescue of the other Ghostbusters begins. It’s rescue-fight-explore-repeat. The rescue is a standard PKE search. Winston, then Egon, the Venkman, although I didn’t actually save Venkman myself; I guess one of the other guys did.  The fights are a lot of spawning lava monsters, but they are fun. The more Busters on screen, the more fun the fights are.

The scene ends with another simple tether puzzle (if you could call it that — Winston tells me what to shoot as soon as I show up) and then there’s the boss fight. It’s classic Zelda: lure the monster into attack and whack it when it misses. It’s not unfun, but nothing spectacular here.

What is surprising is that we have some genuinely funny moments after this. There’s a great one-two bit between Ray and Egon in the post-castle scene. When you go back to the HQ, there’s a good sightgag, and Annie Potts brings some A-game to her monologue. It’s still not the first movie, but credit where due, the writing does shine a bit here. And the next chapter (at Central Park, hunting down Peck as he has kidnapped Ilyssa and turned off the containment grid again) starts with a great industry joke about letting me pilot the vehicle. I don’t get to, defying the idiocy of bad vehicle sections of so many recent games (looking at you, Mass Effect), and I enjoy the reference.

So the next part starts with me wandering around the graveyard trying to open the gate so the Ecto-1 can get in. That’s a long, not very interesting exploration seen, and it doesn’t live up to the creepiness of the previous sections. I open the game with a now old hat tether puzzle, and Ray joins me as the team splits up to find Peck and Ilyssa.

Since we’re approaching the finale of the game, I guess they had to save the worst checkpoint setup for now. Okay, short cut-scene when Ray joins me, then we wander and explore until we get to an open clearing. There’s a second cut-scene as we walk into the courtyard and Ray gives a pep talk, and then we fight. So, where do you think you restart from if you die in this fight? Ponder a moment.

If you said the beginning of the fight, post-cut-scene, you clearly have not been playing this game. Whatever competantly structured game you were thinking of has no bearing here.

If you said at the beginning of the cut-scene in the clearing, I admire your optimism, but no, they couldn’t even hit that low bar.

If you said WAY BACK RIGHT BEFORE YOU SOLVED THE GATE PUZZLE, TWO SEPARATE CUT-SCENES AND AN EXPLORATION BIT AGO, congratulations. You have mastered the inscrutable logic of savepoint design in Ghostbusters.

And of course, since Ray splits up at the beginning of the fight, which is the single worst strategy in any fight in this game, you will probably go down once or twice in this one. Enjoy those movie bits. I could stand this twice before I gave up for the night. I’ll give you a final count of how many times I saw these cut-scenes next time.

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