Who you gonna call? The Ghostbusters are back and Bengt delivers his initial impressions of the third chapter in the Ghostbusters saga.
Most of the pop culture to come out of the 1980's feels cheesy and over the top in a bad way these days, but some things survive and manage to be cheesy and over the top in a good way. Ghostbusters can be filed in the latter category. Both movies have cult classic status, and it is a bit strange that the third chapter would not come until 25 years had passed since the original movie came out and even stranger that it would be a video game and not a feature film. Then again Ghostbusters are all about strange things going on...
With Dan Aykroyd and Harold Remis writing the script we can be sure that part of the game lives up to the high standard set by the movies. And with the added spice of comiedic genius Bill Murray's improvisation, I'm sure there will be a good deal of laughter to be had. As long as the gameplay doesn't make me cry that is.
Speaking of which the developer Terminal Reality have a solid, but not exactly stellar track record. Perhaps best known for their work on Bloodrayne, the studio have been working on Ghostbusters for two and a half years on their proprierty technology the Infernal Engine. The key feature of this piece of technology with regards to Ghostbusters is the ability to fully simulate the physics of 4000 individual objects. An impressive number, and it is equally impressive to see how this feature translates on screen as you use your proton beam to wreak havoc in New York City. No objects disappear as you tear them down and throw them around and there is a certain feeling of having accomplished something great when you leave a room in total disarray.
While the Ghostbusters brand may have a casual cling to it, the gameplay is far from casual in Terminal Reality's Ghostbusters. You will be required to make use of bumpers, triggers, analogues and face buttons to target, trap and wrangle with ghosts. It takes a while to get used to the overheating mechanism, the secondary fire and your weapons arsenal. I felt I could have done with a tutorial before I was thrown in at the deep end battling Stay Puft's minions, but after a while I got more used to the controls. Hopefully this will allow for deeper gameplay, but that is far too early to tell at this stage of course.
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While there is no co-op in Terminal Reality's Ghostbusters: The Video Game (that's an exclusive feature of Red Fly's Wii version) there is a co-operative element to the multiplayer. Especially in the Survival mode, where you and your fellow ghostbusters, face wave after wave of ghosts, in similar fashion to Gears of War 2's popular Horde mode. There is a total of six game modes across twelve maps, making it a rather meaty multiplayer package. The action in the multiplayer mode appeared very intense, but unfortunately I was not allowed to get my hands on it.
The version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, was not the latest build (it usually isn't), and consisted of taking on ghosts as I chased up a building in pursuit of Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I tried both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, and the latter seemed to be a bit more polished both in terms of controls and graphics. In particular I had some trouble with context sensitive commands such as opening doors and reviving a fallen comrade in the Playstation 3 version. It happened a few times that eventhough the command was visible on screen (interact), I performed the action of laying out a trap when pressing said button. Hopefully this issue will be ironed out well before the game releases in June.
I suspect that this level will be released as a demo at some point (it said demo in the menu with the other options blackened out) as the executive producer Brendan Goss had this to say when I asked whether a demo would be released prior to the game coming out.
"Yes... (pause, and a nervous look as if suddenly remembering he was talking to a journalist) That is something for Atari to answer."
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There is every reason to expect something other than the usual licensed disappointment from Ghostbusters: The Video Game. The developers were given a rare chance to polish their game as it changed publishers, and the inclusion of the original talent bodes well for the authenticity of the overall Ghostbusters experience.