10 Days With Ghostbusters: Slime City

So a brand new Ghostbusters video game hit shelves recently, cleverly titled "Ghostbusters: The Video Game", and so far it seems to be a big hit. Mind you, I can neither confirm nor deny this assertion since I don't have a Playstation 4 or XBox One to play it on, and the Playstation 3 version seems to be ostentatiously overpriced.So while everyone else gets their bustin' on on a next gen system, I found a free-to-play Android based game to give me a Ghostbusters fix.

(What follows are my own impressions from playing the game; I haven't read a single article, review or walkthrough about it. So if I am misrepresenting a feature or aspect of Slime City that is completely unfounded, well, take a look at that URL at the top of the page and you can understand how something like that would happen.)

Developed by Eight Pixels Square and published by Activision, "Ghostbusters: Slime City" is based on the new Ghostbusters film, that hit theaters this past weekend. Players begin the game as a brand new recruit to the Ghostbusters team and can determine the look of the character by choosing one of four stock body types. The default is Amelie Jones, "France's Leading Paranormal Expert".

The avatar doesn't seem to have any bearing on the performance of your character. In fact, you can switch on the fly as often as you want without any benefit or punishment.

The other avatars available are Clarissa Sharpe, "London's Queen of the Underground"...

...which sounds more like a woman who enjoys going to raves...

...Sam Nova, "Madrid's Manifestation Matador"...

...whatever the hell that's supposed to mean...
...and Bud Franklin, "The Trapmeister".

And of course the American gets the dumbest nickname of all.
As you progress, you earn Skill Points, which you can assign to different attributes to strengthen your character, such as HP, Defense, Power, and Health Recharge. I've gotten to level 8 and managed to upgrade a little bit, but it doesn't seem to have any effect but maybe it's because I haven't leveled high enough to see a difference. Also, defense seems to max out at 4, which is garbage but whatever.

The game mechanics are similar to the arcade game "Time Crisis" where you duck behind cover before popping out to take a shot at enemies. Or ghosts, in this case. Firing is simply tapping the screen where you want to aim the proton pack. The pack is fairly responsive, meaning where you tap will most often result in a direct hit, however, there are a few challenges when it comes to weaponry, which I'll get to in a bit.

The game features different types of ghosts. Most of what you encounter are of the HP variety, meaning you shoot them enough to deplete their energy level, in which case they disappear. A few of the ghosts, however, need to be trapped, and they are indicated by a glowing aura around them.

The green one. Behind the wall. It's a terrible screenshot.
Catching them is fairly easy. It's mostly a matter of tapping on them, holding them, and dragging them to the trap that gets tossed into the center of the room before the battle starts. Again, it's all really, really simple.

There are also massive, oversized ghosts. So far I've run into both the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Rowan and each one has annihilated me without mercy. They're basically HP ghosts but their weak spots vary, they toss shit at you and they have an absurd amount of HP to start with that my level 6 ass could barely keep up.
They sure are cute roaming around Central Park with impunity, though.
But no, seriously, fuck these guys.
Fighting ghosts isn't the only type of mission you face. Well, it's about 96% of your tasks but you do other things as well. Like shoot shit. This isn't a joke, by the way. One mission requires you to shoot up a ghost generating machine, which I failed to get a screenshot of and don't feel like going back to get one since I just want to get this posted. Just take my word for it that it's all pretty standard.

Circling back to the different weapons, you start with the Proton Pack, which is the same as the packs from the new movie. These are reliable, single proton-stream emitting packs that have a good attack strength, quick recharge and decent rate of fire.

A trustworthy weapon.
 I've also unlocked what's called the "Electron Pack", which is the pack from the original films. This pack is a lot stronger than the Proton Pack but has a slower recharge time and tends to be slightly difficult to control. So depending on which weapon you choose, you take the good with the bad.

In addition to the packs, though, you can boost your character with the help of a few cards. You get cards as rewards for completing missions, with rarer cards providing better boosts. I've never actually used a boost during a battle (seriously, the missions last 30 seconds, ain't nobody got time for boosts) so I can't say how much they affect the outcome. But there are different attributes to the boosts, like 15% damage to green ghosts (which would all but guarantee that I don't see a single green ghost in the battle).

Not everything is a "weapon", though.
Like most freemium games, gold is the in-game currency and can be purchased with real currency. I haven't done so as I've amassed over 100 gold coins these past 10 days. Not like that's a lot considering that rushing a building upgrade can take 50+ gold but whatevs.

Legen...wait for it...pay me. 
Oh, and remember when I said that "Slime City" was based on the new movie? Well, there are a couple of familiar faces showing up in the game.

That's Kyle and Jess. OK, so maybe I overplayed the "familiar" part considering they aren't Kevin and Jillian, but god damn, they look close, right? I'm not sure why they didn't use Kevin and Holtzmann for the game, probably some kind of legal jargon concerning rights and likenesses and shit but it doesn't really matter. Even though these two pop up often, their banter adds a few chuckles to an otherwise monotonous game.

Whatever. It made me laugh.
I do enjoy the Daily Log In bonus game, which lets players force Slimer to shovel as much food as possible down his gullet in an allotted time, generally between 15 and 30 seconds. It's gross, it's frenetic, but it's fun.

See that bar at the top? They pay you for that.
Also, there seems to be a lot of product placement . Like, a whole lot. I've run across the Dave & Buster's and Papa John's logos so many times that I've lost count. Granted, both of those companies featured fairly prominently in the film and they both have in-store tie ins to the movie. But hey, however Activision can generate a revenue stream from the game is fine by me. They don't shove ads down your throat like other freemium games and buying currency (so far) isn't mandatory so a few logos here and there is probably the least intrusive thing an Android game can do to make money.

Though that looks like the sketchiest Dave & Buster's ever.
Even with all of that, one of my favorite aspects of the game are the splash screens. The graphics many be simple but they've rendered a few dynamic scenes which make the slow loading times semi-enjoyable.

While the game is fun at times, it tends to get repetitive. Not just because the simple game mechanics are used in every level but because it forces you to retrace your steps often. Because XP is such a rare commodity, in order to level up and unlock other aspects of the game, you have to go back to missions you've already cleared in the hopes that you'll get XP. And even though the missions are easy in themselves, you need to devote large swaths of time in order to progress.

I've fallen victim to many games that rely on the Pavlovian reward system to keep players active and this one just doesn't quite have the right balance. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on it completely any time soon, but I can easily see it phasing out of my life.

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