Review Supplement – Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime

8 04 2011

I have a feeling that my review of Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, which will be up on Gamedot sometime in the next week, puts me in an unflattering light. I think it reads like I’m an arrogant, snooty old sod whose had it in for this particular game right from the start. Maybe I’m a bad reviewer. Maybe I’m stuck up. Whatever the above-average levels of vitriol in the review (still not too much, hopefully) say about me, I think they’re an accurate reflection of my time spent with the game.

Being sent things to review, as opposed to buying them myself (in the halcyon days of first-year student newspaper contributions) means that some bad games come along from time to time, but I’ve been fortunate enough with Gamedot to have only been asked to play one other really bad game as well as Sanctum of Slime. This game was Ship Simulator Extremes, which was perhaps the least extreme game I’ve ever played and was a depressing title to have to play for only my second review. Its problems weren’t to do with design, however, but rather in the performance departments: it was riddled with bugs and chugged like a knackered steam engine even on low graphics settings. A shame: some of the videos online looked quite pretty, and I expressed in my review that games like this, for all their quirks, have a certain charm and appeal (when they work properly).

I gave Ship Sim a 3/10, the same score that I’ve given Ghostbusters, but I think it’s the latter that I dislike more. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems so cynically made. It’s core systems are something that I’d be happy with if I was an amateur developer. I’d be pleased at having coded a combat system that works without breaking, at having made a game that functions – and that’s all this game does.

A professional studio, working with a strong license, have made nothing more than a piece of software, where the triggers function as they should, the right audio cues come at the right times and the frame rate stays solid. They dug the foundations – the three weapons and a few environments – but couldn’t be bothered with building anything on top, resorting to copy/paste level design and raising the difficulty by spawning more and more baddies. The graphics are passable, the sound is fine (the theme tune is the best thing about the game), but everything that makes this program a game is so minimal, unambitious and lazy that it becomes not just a bad piece of code, but a really unappealing one.

There we are: my position as a right grumpy bugger is cemented. You’ll see what I mean when a review link pops up sometime soon…

like now.

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