Playtest: Ghostbusters

I’ll admit, I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan.  From the 80s films, to the 8-bit computer games, to the toys,  send it my way and I’ll soak it up, especially when the latest in the franchise turns out to be exclusive to the PS3 in Europe.  Yes, you could import the Xbox 360 version (it’s region free) but the message that you can only buy Ghostbusters for the PlayStation 3 in GAME and GameStation will surely send out strong messages to Joe Public, even if it’s only temporary.

Not that Ghostbusters is particularly visually stunning or that it makes full use of the PlayStation 3’s technical grunt, because it’s not, and it doesn’t.  The visuals appear to be sub-720p (and then upscaled to 1080p), the frame rate’s all over the shop and there’s the usual pre-game exhale as the game requires a reasonably lengthy install before it’s up and running, with further mid-level loads hidden behind non-skippable pre-rendered cutscenes.

The controls are clever, though.  For the most part it’s a third person blaster, much like Gears (complete with roadie-run sprint) albeit with the ‘busters being lighter on their feet than the clunking space marines; the game handles switches to the PK Meter’s first person view with inpunity for when the game requires a switch to a more subtle, scary section but most of the game will see you staring at your on-screen character’s right shoulder.

Aiming and movement is as you’d expect, with fully reversable right-stick options for those that play with kooky setups, and whilst the weaponry is a little confusing at first (R2 to fire, L1 to switch to a grapple beam, L2 to slam ghosts, fire projectiles, and so on) once you’ve got the hang of the way the game wants you to trap ghosts it’s actually quite straightforward.  Naturally the biggest spectres give up less easily, but you’re often reduced to wrestling with them as they get sucked into the trap.

It’s never particularly scary, mind, and it’s clearly not meant to be: the game is filled with humour, chock full of the wonderful character that we were hoping for and the fact that the actors have not only lended their physical appearance to the game, but also their voice talents, gives the game a huge amount of grounding and weight.  Yes the game covers old ground (hello, Slimer) but it’s for a good reason and it’s self referrential throughout – and the Stay Puft battle is awesome.

If you’re a fan, you’ll be in heaven. We’ll have the full review as soon as possible.