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Ghostbusters The Video Game Preview

publisher: Sierra
developer: Terminal Reality
genre: Action Adventure

PIV 3800, 2GB RAM, 9GB HDD, 512MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jun 16, 09
» All About Ghostbusters The Video Game on ActionTrip

Back in the mid-80's Dan Aykroyd and fellow actor/director/writer Harold Ramis came up with an idea for a sci-fi-horror comedy about a bunch of specter exterminators. Fueled by Aykroyd's fascination of the paranormal, the idea quickly developed into a movie script. The movie was called Ghostbusters and it hit theaters in 1984, quickly becoming a commercial triumph. The success of the franchise led to a sequel and several game adaptations for various old-school platforms such as the Atari 2600, NES, C64 and Amiga.

Dan Aykroyd recently confirmed his involvement in a next-gen video game based on the popular Ghostbusters franchise. Aykroyd and Ramis are both penning the story for the video game, which by the way continues where the second movie left off. They're also voicing the game characters; Aykroyd plays Dr. Raymond Stantz, while Ramis returns as Dr. Egon Spengler. Additional voice talents feature other cast members from the previous two movies, including Bill Murray (as Dr. Peter Venkman), Ernie Hudson (as Winston Zeddmore) and others. Incidentally, actress Sigourney Weaver, who portrayed Dana Barret in the movies, is unfortunately sitting this one out. Apparently, they're making room for a new female character in the game.

On a related note, this game is not to be confused with a tech demo from developer ZoolFly, which made its way to YouTube in January 2007. The footage was later deemed legitimate, but due to copyright issues, ZoolFly had to change the name of the project. So, now they're calling it TimeO.

At the same time, Vivendi hired development studio Terminal Reality to work on their own next-gen edition of Ghostbusters, quite simply entitled, Ghostbusters: The Video Game. It's in development for PC and consoles and is officially heading towards a late 2008 release.

The upcoming game puts you into the shoes of a rookie Ghostbuster, who joined the ghost-fighting team in 1991 - that's exactly two years after the events in Ghostbusters II. Citizens of New York City are becoming fascinated with Gozer (the supernatural baddie from the original flick) and everything related to Gozer. So much so that the city is preparing to open a Gozerian exhibit. The game starts a few days before the exhibit.

Unlike in the first movie, Gozer won't be the main bad guy, although he does represent an important element in the game. However, the game depicts a variety of familiar bad guys such as Stay Puft (yep, the oversized, fluffy Marshmallow Man), Slimer, the executed brothers, the Grey Lady Librarian and an assortment of brand new characters.

The single-player experience was said to be story-driven and linear, drawing the player's attention on the characters and iconic locations of NYC. Staying true to the spirit of the movies, the game also retains the humor that made both flicks such a joy to watch. That means you're more than likely to hear wisecracks and humorous remarks from the various characters.

Creating the right kind of atmosphere is a key focus in this project, as revealed by the developers. During one of the levels in the game, you'll be going after the aforementioned Grey Lady Librarian. The tension in this scene rises gradually, as you get closer and closer to your goal. Library furniture floats every which way, which means you are hot on the trail. Increased paranormal activity is also registered on your PKE meter which detects and measures Psycho-Kinetic Energy in the area. The tension builds up to typical Ghostbusters-style action; the colorful fire of Proton streams, spirits hovering everywhere, etc.

Apart from the PKE meter, the Ghostbusters also carry their indispensable Proton Packs, which can be set to three different firing modes - Proton, Electron and Slime. Egon's eagerness and talent for science will be of great help too. As the game moves on, Egon improves the Proton Packs, which makes for various upgrades.

Now, ghosts aren't that easy to catch. Some of them tend to shield themselves from attacks by using objects in the environment. They fling books off of shelves, for instance, to protect themselves from your Proton streams. There are a number of ways to take out ghosts. Amongst other things, the Proton Packs enable you to freeze ghosts and shatter them into oblivion, in which case, however, you won't capture them and will be left without a reward.

To maintain the cinematic ambiance, the developers decided to steer clear from a conventional HUD. When your character is injured, the screen goes red around the edges and the present state of your weapon can be determined merely by looking at the Proton Pack placed on the character's back. Each Proton Pack visually indicates the current firing mode and shows you if the weapon has overheated. Aside from the Proton Stream, players may also rely on the so-called Tether Gun, which uses slime for ammo. Firing the Tether Gun could bring about very entertaining results. Fire one end of the slime at a ceiling and the other onto a chair and just watch as the chair sticks to the ceiling. Manipulating objects in such a manner will be possible every step of the way, allowing for dozens of combinations to solve puzzles and take out enemies.

The technology powering the game was said to be quite capable of providing a diversity of modern-day visual effects. On top of that, the game features accurate physics to ensure a high level of environment interaction, destructible objects, etc. What's more, the engine is also able to render a considerable amount of polygonal character on screen at once.

Ghostbusters is also set to run at 1080p with full-screen anti-aliasing in both 360 and PS3 variants. The developers enthusiastically pointed out that they've poured a lot of research into the PS3 hardware, ensuring that the PS3 edition doesn't fall behind and is released simultaneously with other versions.

Speaking as a true fan of the movies, I have to say I'm curious to find out what Dan A. and Harold R. have come up with for the story. Other familiar elements from the movies are planned for the game, such as the famous Ectomobile.

Let's also hope that the folks at Terminal Reality do their best to see this project through to end. At this point, they're still considering whether or not to incorporate a campaign co-op mode. For the present, their focus lies on the single-player.

With a bit of luck, and if Vivendi and Terminal stay true to their word, we should be playing Ghostbusters on consoles and the PC come Xmas 2008.



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