click to enlarge (Xbox 360)
Terminal Reality is well aware that thousands of gamers have never seen the original movie or its (shudder) sequel, so the prospect of tromping around with a pack of middle-aged men in goofy getups might not be a major selling point. Funny jokes, ghosts, wild weapons, and blowing up everything you can see? That's compelling for anyone.
From the admittedly small slice of the "next-gen" build of the game we got our hands on, we have to say that the fan service has been matched with what feels like a strong third-person action game with some fun ideas. There are still moments when it feels a tad by-the-books, but in its stand-out moments, it really ... stands out.
The fan service has been matched with what feels like a strong third-person action game
The destruction these things cause as their proton beams hit everything in the environment boggles the mind. (It also costs the city in repair bills, so it's best to keep the wanton blasting to a minimum.) But as neat as it is, we could definitely see this weapon getting boring over the course of several hours (the dev pointed out that they were used for less than five minutes on-screen in the first film). Fortunately (or unfortunately) we were a new recruit to the GB team – a special weapons handler deigned expendable enough to test out the latest Proton Pack upgrades.
The degree of destruction caused by the proton packs boggles the mind.
Ghosts are captured in a similar way. They're weakened, then captured in the beam, then a trap is deployed and – with or without the aid of the A.I. Ghostbusters, although it's easier with them – you slam them around 'til they stop being frisky, position them right over the trap, and they're toast.
Our demo ended with a battle against the iconic librarian apparition from the first film, who ... wasn't happy about us taking a certain book. This mini-boss threw up a few obstacles to her eventual capture, but was actually pretty simple to nab. Doing so gave us a brief peek into the ghost realm, before we were escorted to the Wii build.
At this point, our pick for the best-playing version goes to the Wii, hands down.
Using the Wii Remote to control the proton stream was far and away the most exciting aspect of the Wii version. It was precise and simply felt right. So did deploying a ghost trap by swinging the Nunchuk in a bowling motion. The PS3 version uses motion controls as well (they're optional) for capturing ghosts, but they were nowhere near as satisfying.
We came away from our demo with some conclusions, questions, and concerns.
At this point, our pick for the best-playing version goes to the Wii, hands-down. The PS3/360 build obviously looked far better, but capturing ghosts felt too hit-or-miss, to the point of being somewhat frustrating. Will this be tuned? Probably. Will our biggest concerns – whether the new weapons will be put to good use, and will the levels / combat be more varied than what we saw – be addressed?
Luckily, both teams have a good deal of time before the June 2009 ship date to tighten things up. The fan service is rock-solid, but the gameplay has yet to fully materialize.