Picked this up yesterday and started playing it late in the evening. Got to a point where I just couldn't put it down until about 1 AM.
The first thing I will say about the game is that it is, indeed, the sequal to Ghostbusters 2. It is, for all intents and purposes, the third installment of the franchise. Written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis, and voiced by all the principle characters (Akroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson all reprise their roles for the game), the events of the game take place 2 years after Ghostbusters 2.
The writing in the game is excellent, the dialogue is sharp, witty and biting and the characters feel exactly as they should as they banter with one another. They look and sound spot on, and even the things they say to one another and the delivery of their lines are nearly perfect. This was the thing that concerned me the most about this game: would it really be GHOSTBUSTERS if the characters didn't actually come off as THE Ghostbusters and ended up feeling like pale imitations.
Well, fear not. All of the actors are in top form. Even Bill Murray, who I was the most worried about because unlike the other three, this guy's still pretty busy in Hollywood these days and I was afraid he wouldn't take the voice overs for a video game seriously enough. Wel, he does a great job. Peter Venkman, and the rest, are back on the job.
The game's graphics are another high mark. Then environments look awesome, reprising REAL New York landmarks and city streets (I've already fought Stay Puft/Gozer in Times Square and it looked SENSATIONAL), the ghosties fit in perfectly with the Ghostbusters ouvre, the animations are fluid, the proton pack effects are killer and the textures are top notch. Ghostbusters HQ seems to be a 100% accurate recreation of the actual converted firehouse from the movie, complete with usable toilets and a rec room complete with a Q-bert arcade machine you can pretend to play. You can even go into the basement and check out the containment grid if you like. There is a hefty amount of product placement (Pepsi and Doritos products abound in the game), which some view with a cynical eye but that I actually welcome. They want me to feel like this is the REAL world, then I want to see REAL products on those billboards and vending machines. I always roll my eyes whenever I see 'Rollitos' or 'Diet Cola' products or ads in the backgrounds of environments in video games designed to simulate real world trappings. I feel more immersed in that world when I can relate more to it, and one thing that we as a species are unable to avoid is the need for companies to sell us stuff at every corner.
Bionic Commando is the only other game I've seen in recent memory that has this kind of product placement. I welcome it, personally. I know there's a dark side to this kind of commerce that takes place between video games and other corporations but as an end user, I really don't care about the back end. That's somebody else's headache to worry about. If it infuses the game companies with cash they need to make their games and it doesn't end up costing me more as a result, I'm all for it.
The only area where the graphics fall short is in the lip syncing. The mouth movements are sort of generic and when the characters are talking, they are sometimes not as expressful as I'd like. At other times, however, the characters emote very well and you see some truly funny facial expressions. A lot of this is handled through a deft combination of expression and body language, such as when Ray sheepishly slumps down in the front seat of Ecto-1 after being asked a difficult question. For the most part, however, the graphics work.
To touch on the sound a bit, the game's sounds are one hundred percent from the movies, or at least recreated to sound like the movie's sounds. Ecto-1's siren, the proton packs, the ghost sound effects (especially Slimer), and the soundtrack are all exactly reproduced or sampled. They even have the original Ray Parker Jr. song in its entirety. The producers have done everything they possibly can do to make you feel like you are experiencing the next chapter in the Ghostbusters saga.
The gameplay is squad based in that you're running around with the Ghostbusters (you play a new recruit to the group, named 'rookie') and helping them to catch the spectres and contain them. Much like with Gears Of War, when an ally is down you can run up and revive them so they can get back in the fight (which I imagine will be tons of fun in multiplayer.) You have to essentially weaken the ghosts with the proton pack until you can 'lasso' them and guide them over the containment unit light, which then sucks them down. It's like a rodeo at times, as you have to manipulate the controller to wrangle them and keep them over the unit long enough for them to get sucked in. As in the movie, crossing the streams of the proton dischargers can be very bad if done for too long and you'll suffer damage. You'll have to periodically 'cool down' the proton pack by pressing R1, which is the game's clever 'reloading' mechanism, and you can buy a variety of upgrades to your equpment from the money you earn plying your trade to improve your Ghostbusting as you progress through the game.
Another nifty add on is a PK Energy Reader which allows you to 'snap photos' of spooky artifacts, supernatural phenomena and the ghosts themselves, which then uploads the profiles for these things to your proton pack's electronic copy of 'Tobin's Spirit Guide' so you can go back and read about them in greater detail. YOu also get money for using the PK Energy Reader in this fashion, which you use to upgrade your gear. You can also upgradeyour PK Energy Reader in this same fashion.
If I have a serious complaint about the game, it's that it's a little difficult at times. You can be a little overwhelmed by all the ghosts that are attacking you and sometimes even the task of reviving your fallen pals, or waiting for them to revive you, can be ridiculously hard. I've never been a fan of being vulnerable while you are in a 'down' state, and I'm not a fan of your helpers being vulnerable while they're reviving you either. I know it's a realistic physic, but there are times when you have to adhere to realism and there are times when you have to eschew it in favor of making the game more playable and balanced. The problem is that the difficulty curve sometimes derails the fun and as I've spent a good amount of time grinning from ear to ear playing this game already, it seems out of place to be grumbling and gripping my controller in frustration and removes me from that 'fun zone' the game should never be letting me leave. Other than this and the minor quibble about the lip syncing, I'd say the game is definitely a worthy experience. And if you're a fan of Ghostbusters, it's a must own.