It's hard to believe it has taken almost 25 years for someone to make a good Ghostbusters game. Thankfully, Atari came to the rescue and picked up this stranded title for us to finally enjoy.
What It Is
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a 3rd-person action game written by none other than Dan Aykroyd (Ray) and Harold Ramis (Egon). The story takes place two years after the events from Ghostbusters 2 and sees the return of the original main cast, which is fully voiced by their movie counterpart. This essentially makes the game like a third movie in a trilogy, only it's in video game form instead. You take control of The Rookie, a new recruit to the team who's not only there to help, but also to be the guinea pig for testing new equipment.
What We Saw
One level split into two parts on the showroom floor at The New York Comic-Con. Senior Artists Glenn Gamble was on hand to first show me an entire playthough of the demo before handing me the reigns to get hands-on. The level takes place in a fictional architect building located in Times Square, and ends right before the final showdown with Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It's said to be the 4th or 5th level in the final game. This was played on the Xbox 360.
How Far Along Is it?
The game is done, well, kind of. Once Atari finally got a hold of it, they've spent the last while simply adding polish and making tweaks, and will continue to do so up until the game's release in June 2009.
What Needs Improvement?
No Squad Commands: Throughout the game, one or possibly all of your teammates will join to fight alongside you, and there's no way to tell them what to do. They attack on their own. I was told the decision not to include a squad command system was to make the game control a bit more casual-like. Now admittedly it wasn't missed during the demo I played, but I'd still like to have just a bit more control over my A.I. buddies, even if it's something simple as Attack, Retreat, Follow, etc.
Who Am I?: So I don't get to play as Peter Venkman or Egon Spengler, but only as The Rookie? Yeah, apparently that's his name. It's supposed to be you, the player, playing as yourself. But unfortunately there no character customisation options to actually make it look like you. So you're just "a guy" along for the ride.
Multiplayer Details: The game has multiplayer, but Atari is still silent on what it is exactly. Co-op? Deathmatch? I'm assuming it's some sort of co-op mode, as deathmatch with Proton Packs doesn't seem to make much sense, let alone seem as fun.
What Should Stay The Same?
Details, Details: This game is detailed from head to toe. Your Proton Pack alone, which doubles as your HUD, is just gushing with all sorts of tiny animations and intricacies. Using your PK meter while scanning enemies or items reveals background information and history. Characters will even get covered in marshmallow and slime. Lots of little things I'm sure were added with all the extra polish time.
Destruction: None of the environment pieces are really nailed down at all. Everything can be destroyed, or at least knocked around. I was told each and every book in the library level, which totals over 1000, can individually be shot off the shelf. Paintings will fall off the wall. Air conditioners explode into pieces. It really adds another layer of visual flair and realism.
It's like Ghostbusters 3: It's rare for a game to not only have the original writers from the movie series, but the original voice actors, too. That, to me, makes the game seem and feel very authentic. The characters not only sound like they should, but act as well. There's also plenty of story references and nods to the original two movies, some so minor that only hardcore fans will pick up on.
Big Bosses: Stay Puft is only a mid-sized level boss. Hopefully this means most of the rest are just as large and engaging.
I came away really impressed with Ghostbusters: The Video Game, even in this short 20 minute demo. It plays sorta similar to Gears of War - it even includes its own "roadie run." When you add solid, fun gameplay with terrific writing and voice acting, it usually means good things will happen.