E3 09: Burch 'n Davis play Ghostbusters


After yesterday's Ghostbuster mini-fiasco, we made it a point  to go straight to the Sony booth this morning to get to the game before the rest of the crowd could. I was nervous about what was about to happen, because the Ghostbusters property is one that is precious to me. While a Ghostbusters game of this caliber looks great on paper, there are so many things that could go wrong with it once put in to practice. I didn't want to see any of the wrongdoings that I have long feared turn out to be real.

Soon enough, I was tracking down and trapping ghosts like a real Ghostbuster, and you know what? It was pretty great. My fears about the property being mishandled have mostly disappeared. Side by side, Anthony and I played through the demo and spoke to the guy working the booth, who apparently built the in-game proton packs. A good time was had by all who were there.

Hey, a ghost just went through that jump link down there! You better follow it!

Anthony:  Bustin' makes me feel good.

Ashley:  So good.

Anthony:  I typically say that to you like, once a week, but this time I actually have a context for it.

And I mean it. Bustin' did make me feel good.

Ashley:  Hahahah.

Me too, And I don't even like most third-person shooters.

Anthony:  Right. Apart from the ghost-wrangling it's just basically a third-person shooter with the obvious cues changed out for Ghostbusters-centric stuff (instead of "reloading" your "gun," you "vent" your "proton pack").

And instead of "Dom" asking "where his wife is" it's "Bill Murray" bitching about getting "slimed."

Ashley:  But I had a much easier time using the Proton Pack than I ever have any gun.

R2 is used to shoot, and there's no lock-on, so you have to wave the stream around and follow whichever ghost you're trying to take down.

Once they're weak enough, the beam changes to the lasso, which gives you more control. You can slam the ghost to the ground using L2, and drag them around with the right analog nub.

But they're trying to resist the whole time, so I guess it's not really "dragging". More like pulling. I really need to learn how to use the right words.

Anthony:  Like, you're messy, and you destroy everything, and that's really fun once you realize you're not going to be an efficient, accurate asskicking machine. I kept waiting for you to shout, "Woah, woah, woah! Nice shootin', Tex."

Ashley:  It's great that they didn't make the Ghostbusters something they're not, which are professionals. There was a lot of throwing things around and burning streaks into the walls throughout the portion of the game that we played.

Not that burning things with the proton beam is part of the game or anything, but it does burn everything non-spectral that it touches.

Which is neat in itself.

Anthony:  What did you think about the wrangling controls?

Ashley:  I really liked them. They felt very natural, and I'm saying that as someone who always has trouble with console shooters.

Anthony:  It did feel like you were wrangling those assholes, to a degree.

Ashley:  I totally felt like a ghost wrangler.

Anthony:  Ghosts were wrangled.

Ashley:  Oh, and when they're in your proton lasso and weak, you just press the square button to throw out a trap and pull that sucker into it.

Anthony:  God, seeing the ghost slowly get sucked into the trap was so cool. Especially trying to keep him in the trap's suck radius.

It wasn't until I trapped my first ghost that I was like, "hey...I'm playing fuckin' GHOSTBUSTERS."

Bustin' makes me feel good.

Ashley:  We know, dear.


Remember when were playing Ape Escape the other day, and I pointed out that I really liked the apes because they're like this interesting midpoint between regular enemies and bosses? And they sort of work like items?

The ghosts in Ghostbusters work pretty much the same way.

Every time I saw one, I was like, "woo! Another ghost to catch!" They weren't just some goomba to easily do away with, nor a really boring boss with recognizable attack patterns and weak points.

Ashley:  That's a really good analogy. I felt that way about all of the enemies as well. And they're nicely spaced out so that you're not just capturing one after the other. There's all the sleuthing involved to find them.

Anthony:  I feel like that sleuthing, done in first-person via the PKE meter, could probably be the game's downfall if it relies too much on it in the full version.

It's really just hide and seek, where you follow your PKE meter's visual cues to get to the next interesting part of the game.

Ashley:  I never really felt that it was overused in the demo, but yeah, they could make the game much less awesome by putting too much of it in.

Anthony:  It just felt like this really slow-paced, "hey, find the hot spot we hid in this environment."

But, to counter that -- like, the Slimer fight, right? He's in this big ballroom, and occasionally he'll duck INTO tables or ornaments and stuff.

And you can either find him using the PKE, like a professional, or fucking be a Ghostbuster and just torch everything around you.

And then he comes out of the table like "AHHHH SHIT"

Ashley:  See, I was doing it like a professional, and Anthony leaned over and told me to just shoot without discretion.

It works both ways. You can choose whichever way to play!

Anthony:  "SHOOT THE TABLE, IT'S AWESOME." I yelled. Or something to that effect.

It works that way during boss fights, anyway. Certain areas seemed to require PKE-age.

What did you think of the cutscenes/story/characters?

Ashley:  They weren't completely perfect, but I still felt like I was playing a Ghostbusters movie.

The character models are spot-on though. It's amazing how much the guys look like themselves.

Anthony:  Bill Murray has one foot in the uncanny valley, but otherwise I was pretty happy with the models.

Ashley:  Really?  thought his was pretty good.

  Shiny forehead.

Weird shiny forehead.

Looked like an alium.

  Some people have that in real life.

Anthony:  And they look like aliums.

That's how we say "alien" on the streets.

How did you feel about the jokes and plot? Like, you go into the exact same hotel from the first film, you meet Slimer in the exact same way, and Slimer slimes Venkman again.

And Ray actually says, "Venkman! You got slimed, again!" He's about an inch away from actually turning to the camera and winking.

Ashley:  I'm scared that they just pulled a lot of the same stuff out of the first two movies and reused them all. And everything that happens ends with, "I done it again!"

Anthony:  Cue audience applause.

Ashley:  I mean, the demo ends with Staypuft.

But maybe that's where all the similar situations end.

Anthony:  Maybe. And even if they are similar, while I was playing I didn't really care -- like, fuck how they rationalize it, I REALLY want to fight Slimer and Staypuft.

Ashley:  That is very true.

Anthony:  Even if they have to sort of remake-but-not-really-remake the first film to do it.

So, I talked to one of the game devs and he told me three noteworthy things:

- It comes out in two weeks

- The multiplayer is all coop, with semi-randomized mission objectives (in one room you may have to fight a boss, in another you may have to defend an object, etc)

- If Ghostbusters the game were a movie, he thought it'd be better than 2, and as good as or better than 1.

Ashley:  All of these points are orgasmic.

Anthony:  Right.

That dude has a pretty high opinion of his game, though.

He and James Cameron should make out.

But he was really nice.

Ashley:  You two got really friendly. Maybe you guys should make out instead.

  Bustin' makes me feel good.

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