Originally Published: June 15, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Examiner.com, and Lundberg.me

The 80s was a hotbed for geek culture. With Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles permeating the popular culture, it’s hard not to see why my generation is having a renaissance of our childhood, as these franchises have celebrated or soon will be celebrating anniversaries.

The only geek-geared franchise that began in the movies though, and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary by releasing both a brand new video game and both movies on Blu-ray on June 16, was, of course, Ghostbusters.

With shock-value scares and classic humor from some of the greatest comedy minds of the era, Ghostbusters struck chords with fans young and old (although some of us younger fans couldn’t truly appreciate all the comedy until we hit our early teens).

From an entire universe being encapsulated in the fictional work of “Tobin’s Spirit Guide” to the gluttonous green ghoul called “Slimer” haunting the Sedgewick Hotel, Ghostbusters caught our imaginations from the opening scenes. Add in classic characters like the sarcastic Peter Venkman, and “the heart of the Ghostbusters,” Ray Stantz, and you had an instant classic.

Unfortunately, after two movies, a long running cartoon series, and a cartoon-inspired line of action-figures and video games, Ghostbusters faded away far quicker than those other classic 80’s franchises. Die-hards of the series though had always been clamoring for more; especially a third movie to complete what many have felt should have been a film trilogy.

While rumors continue to swirl about a third movie script being green lit by Columbia Pictures (which actually have some validity to them after I chatted with Harold Ramis, which you can check out by CLICKING HERE), many fans are saying this new video game is the closest thing we will get to a third movie.

The story opens up in 1991, two years after the end of the second Ghostbusters movie, with your character being hired as the newest Ghostbuster. Simply known as “the rookie,” you begin your Ghostbusting career ominously by short-circuiting the famed containment grid that holds all the ghosts, ghouls, and specters that the Ghostbusters had already caught. Only a couple of ghosts escape, including our old friend Slimer, before Egon can get the grid back online. However, since you let them go, you have to catch them. Thus begins the obligatory training level as you hunt the loose ghosts in the Ghostbusters firehouse’s basement. After catching the first ghost, Slimer floats out of the firehouse to find safety at his favorite old haunt, the Sedgewick Hotel.

After arriving at the hotel and disposing of Slimer in similar fashion to the first movie, Egon reveals the startling news that there is a lot more ghost activity going on in the hotel other than Slimer (anyone remember the twinkie?). Thus begins the stirring of a plot that started in the first two movies and will come to a fright-filled, comedic head in the game to give a fitting finish to this trilogy.

Visually, this game is stunning. From the ghosts and goblins to the Ghostbusters themselves, this game looks hauntingly good. The environments set the mood perfectly as you work your way through such unsuspecting settings as the New York Public Library to the murky New York City sewers as you uncover a cataclysmic plot over a century old. Add in the classic Ghostbusters soundtrack to help lighten or darken the mood as necessary and you’ve got a game that feels like you’re playing a new movie.

The gameplay is strong, but not perfect. No one actually dies in the game, but if you or the other Ghostbusters get knocked around too much, you’ll be planted on your backside like a turtle as you wait for someone to help you up (they’re carrying around 100 lbs. of equipment on their backs, not easy to lift while on the ground). This sets up an interesting conundrum while fighting harder ghosts. Do you keep saving your own bacon or risk it to pick up your teammates and get some extra proton streams on the ghoulish baddies? Sometimes the decision is made for you though as some ghosts, either by accident or on purpose, not quite sure, will hover directly above your fallen comrades and prevent you from reviving them. Unfortunately, if everyone in the party gets knocked out, you have to start the mission over from a checkpoint. To say this can be frustrating after being knocked out 15-20 times on hard mode is an understatement. Along with a few too many glitches for my liking, it does a lot to remove you from the overall experience that this game tries to create.

A big positive for the game is the replay value. An impressive multiplayer system that allows you to team up with up to three friends to bust ghosts in three different modes will have you coming back for more as you try to rack up the high score as you catch more and more ghouls online. Add in a varying amount of possessed collectibles per story mode level and the challenge of trying to scan every breed of ghost with your PKE meter into your own personal Tobin’s Spirit Guide and what is only a 10-15 hour story mode will easily give you many more hours of secondary gameplay.

Of course though, the best part is that there is no greater feeling than listening to all of the original Ghostbusters come back and do their own voices for this video game. Bill Murray sounds like he forced his performance a bit since it has been so long since he has been involved in a comedy anywhere near the quality of Ghostbusters, but age hasn’t affected any of the other Ghostbusters and Ernie Hudson surprisingly sounded the best of the bunch. Along with Alyssa Milano as Venkman’s newest love interest and this star studded cast delivers for the most part another classic comedic performance.

If you are a fan of Ghostbusters, this game is beyond a must-have. A story that has been waiting 20 years to be made, this game is the culmination of everything fans have come to love from the series and more. There is no greater satisfaction than forcing a ghost into a well-placed trap and listening to Venkman whine when a new ghost slimes him from behind. An instant classic! For the nostalgia alone, this game could be a game of the year contender.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 9.5: The game is beautiful visually. From the way the proton stream wraps around ghosts as you try to wrestle them into traps to the character and ghost models themselves, this game will blow you away with graphics. Only that the models look a tad cartoony at times keeps this game from getting a perfect score (not counting the Wii version which purposely looks more cartoony).

Audio: 10.0: The entire original Ghostbusters soundtrack is included and it makes even the load screens entertaining. Add in tremendous voice acting from everyone involved and the SFX being spot on with how they should sound and this game is a treat for your ears.

Plot/Plot Development: 9.0: The plot ties together with the first two movies perfectly and develops at a natural pace like you were watching another 90-minute masterpiece. The game explained many common questions from the first two movies very well, but also brought up a few new questions with the Ghostbusters canon. For the most part though, everything was well explained in terms of new plot points, technologies, and spirit guide additions. Only drawback would be that if you haven’t seen the movies, you might miss many references. Of course, if you haven’t seen the movies, you most likely aren’t going to want the game either.

Gameplay: 7.5: Glitchy and frustrating at times, considering everything that is happening on screen it can be forgiven to a point. It was nice to see a game’s hard mode actually be hard and not just a walk in the park like the easy mode. If you’re looking for a challenge and can tolerate the, at times, weak teammate A.I., then you’ll definitely enjoy the game experience overall. Another nice feature would have been able to customize your rookie Ghostbuster on all systems, a feature only found on the Wii.

Replay Value: 8.5: Plenty of collectibles from haunted items to filling your personal Tobin’s Spirit Guide will be plenty to keep you coming back for a few more story play throughs. Add in though a very enjoyable multiplayer mode online where you compete with friends to catch ghosts and earn cash and any fan of the series, the game, or both will keep coming back for more.

Overall: 9.0 (not an average): The game provides everything you could have hoped to expect from it. A great plot that continues the classic Ghostbusters storyline along with awesome surprises will make any and every fan of this classic series jump for joy on more than one occasion as they play through the story mode. Along with a solid multiplayer mode and this game is a must have for anyone where ‘bustin’ makes them feel good.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game will be out for every system on June 16th.

-Ray Carsillo