Lego Dimensions: Ghostbusters (2016) Story Pack
For the second year of Lego Dimensions, the development team rolled out a new type of product. A Story Pack contains six new levels adapting the full plot of a recent movie. You also get some combination of characters, vehicles and a new background to replace the portal from the Starter Pack. Each Story Pack also unlocks a new “keystone” which can be used to solve puzzles throughout the game. It’s a big expansion and it comes with a proportionally large price tag. At retail prices, a Story Pack will run you $50 which is almost twice as much as what used to be the game’s most expensive expansion. As it turns out, the movie that was chosen as the theme for the first Story Pack was a bit controversial.
The Ghostbusters Story Pack is based on Paul Feig’s 2016 remake of the classic 1984 supernatural comedy. Feig was initially reluctant to take on the task of remaking a beloved special-effects heavy comedy. Feig’s career has been built on base hits that are profitable in relation to their relatively low budgets. He’d never attempted to make a movie as big as Ghostbusters. A remake would be a high stakes gamble with little chance of success. When the original cast of Ghostbusters attempted to recreate the magic of the first movie, the result was the disappointing sequel, Ghostbusters 2. Director Ivan Reitman later went on to fail again with his own Ghostbusters rip-off, Evolution. Feig initially balked at the opportunity to be the guy who messed up Ghostbusters.
But the studio was hungry for a franchise. Disney has been dominating the box office with its animated offerings and Marvel and Star Wars mega-franchises. When Sony jacked up their own Spider-man reboot, they were desperate for something that could generate sequels. They were convinced that Ghostbusters was their ticket. But no reputable director would touch the project, so they offered Feig anything he wanted. Understandably, what Feig wanted was to do something different with his remake. Otherwise, what’s the point? He agreed to make the movie on the condition that he could recast the protagonists with women.
I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone what happened next. The internet broke in half. Middle-aged men who grew up watching the Ghostbusters cartoon wept and ranted. People complained that the new Ghostbusters was ruining their childhood before a single frame of footage had even been filmed. When the trailer was eventually released, it set a record for being the least-liked trailer on YouTube. Admittedly, the trailer wasn’t great. But it didn’t deserve the vitriol it received from fanboys. Last summer, the movie finally opened to mostly positive reviews and mixed box office. The new Ghostbusters performed well by the standards of a Paul Feig comedy, but given its massive budget it came up short. The sad little men who hoped the remake would fail cheered when the plug was pulled on the planned sequels.
I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole, but before I get to the Story Pack let me just say that I have seen Ghostbusters 2016 several times now and it’s good. Last summer, I took my oldest daughter to see it in the theater and we had a good time. When I was her age, I saw the original movie and loved it. The first Ghostbusters remains a sentimental favorite of mine. The remake did not in anyway negatively impact my childhood. Given a choice between watching the remake or the 1989 sequel, I’ll happily watch the female squad bust ghosts. About a month ago, the new movie started running on cable. My wife and youngest daughter who did not accompany us to the theater watched it with us at home. They loved it even more than we did. To my surprise, they watch the new Ghostbusters over and over again.
There’s a reason I went through all that. Despite being a pretty good movie, the new Ghostbusters was viewed as an abject failure by a certain portion of the population. A population that overlaps with the stereotypical gamer. If you go into a community devoted to Lego Dimensions, you won’t have to look too hard to find people complaining that something as big as a Story Pack was devoted to a movie they don’t think should exist. They will complain that the female cast got bigger and better treatment than the cast of the classic movie. Some of them cheered over the perception that the Ghostbusters Story Pack underperformed in sales despite the fact that its rumored failure paved the way for rumors that the plug is being pulled on the game as a whole.
In retrospect, a $50 expansion pack based on the Ghostbusters remake seems like a bad idea. But think back to the movies that were released this summer. Now eliminate all the Disney movies because Disney had their own toys-to-life video game at the time. There weren’t a lot of alternatives to serve as the basis for the game’s first Story Pack. Given that Lego already held the Ghostbusters license, it became the obvious choice.
There is a certain amount of overlap with the Ghostbusters Level Pack. As a remake, the new movie hit a lot of the same story beats. Just as players did in the level pack, they will control a team of paranormal investigators who bust ghosts. But just as the movie tweaked the original formula, the game developers have found ways to differentiate the new team from the old. The remake featured a lot of new ghost busting gadgets which translate to a more streamlined approach to capturing ghosts in the Story Pack. Whereas Peter Venkman needed his ghost trap gadget, the girls can do without it.
The Story Pack comes with a single mini-figure; Melissa McCarthy’s character Abby Yates. Abby has a unique ability within the game. She can transfer an electric charge from one station to another. This skill makes Abby essential to anyone who wants to complete 100% of the game’s content. Although they aren’t included in physical form, players can also control the rest of the team. And unlike the A-Team or the original Ghostbusters, each member of the new team has different abilities. Erin (Kristen Wiig) can blow up silver legos, Jillian (Kate McKinnon) is good with gadgets and Patty (Leslie Jones) has super strength. They can all bust ghosts, shoot lasers and perform various technology related tasks. Some can swing on ropes or survive hazard zone. Combined, they offer quite a long list of in-game skills for players to choose from.
The team’s vehicle is a new version of the Ecto-1. Unlike the one that came in the level pack, this car has all four tires. In terms of abilities, it’s another Lego Dimensions car. It’s not bringing much to the game beyond a more fully realized version of the iconic Ghostbusters car.
In addition to six new levels, the Story Pack opens up a new adventure world based on the 2016 remake. Yes, there are two completely separate Ghostbusters adventure worlds in the game now. Currently the Story Pack is the only way to access the new adventure world although there are rumors of a Fun Pack featuring the movie’s villain, Rowan. If the rumors prove to be true, that would offer a much cheaper option for those who just want to experience the adventure world.
Which brings me to the subject of price. At $50, the Story Pack is arguably too expensive. If the pack has under-performed as many have speculated, the price likely proved to be a barrier for many players. The good news is that if you shop around, you should have no problem picking up any of the game’s story packs for a discounted rate of around $30. The downside is that feeds into rumors that the game may be in trouble. At $30, the Ghostbusters Story Pack offers a lot of bang for the buck. Like the movie its based on, its better than its reputation would suggest.