Who Ya Gonna Call?
So I spent Friday night from approximately 7:00 p.m. until about 4:00 a.m. consuming Ghostbusters: The Game. Hard to believe this thing's been out for two years now; harder to believe that after all the internet squeeing about it leading up to release, post-release there just hasn't been much said on the subject. Everyone seems to have liked it, but nobody seems to have loved it ... and once Portal came out, everybody but diehard ghostheads (is there a consensus on what you call the Ghostbusters fandom?) forgot about it, apparently.
Anyway, I bought the game for laurie_robey's birthday almost immediately post-release, but she doesn't get along with FPS shooter controls and so never got past the intro, and it languished quietly on the shelf ever since. Looking to mine it for ideas for my new GB roleplaying campaign, and also just 'cause I wanted to play it, I decided to pull it out and have at it.
I didn't have too much trouble with the FPS aspect, although I did find the controls to be on the clunky side. I played the game on "casual" mode because all I was really interested in was the storyline; even so, I would have preferred if there was less "game" in it. You have a health meter, but all that happens when your health runs out is that you fall down and one of the other Ghostbusters has to come over and help you up. There's an overheat/reload mechanic where you can only fire the proton pack for a few seconds at a time, but when the pack overheats, it just goes down for a few seconds and is basically the same as if you manually vented it, so that doesn't make much difference either. Finally, you're constantly getting guff from the other Ghostbusters about not crossing the streams, but half the time they're the ones who did it, and it doesn't actually hurt you that much anyway. The net result is that most of the time the gameplay elements are just distractions from what is otherwise more like an "interactive movie" than anything else. Every once in a while they go from "distraction" to "major annoyance," such as in one segment where you're being bombarded by possessed cherubim statues while trying to open a cemetery gate by slamming them into it. By the time you've got one of the cherubs targeted, two others crash into you and knock you down, making it all but impossible to solve the puzzle as intended. (I found a cheaty way to solve it instead online. I hate having to circumvent game mechanics just to proceed.)
That said, the game is very neat and a lot of fun if you like Ghostbusters. Written by Aykroyd and Ramis, and with almost the entire original cast returning to do voices (including for supporting roles like Janine and Walter Peck), it really does "feel like" Ghostbusters in a way that a lot of other spinoff materials don't. As "the rookie" you're almost always on a mission with at least one of the original Ghostbusters, and fortunately the teammate AI and running commentary is usually very good. They did an excellent job of catching the likenesses and mannerisms of the actors (or at least, their 1991 likenesses, when the game is set), so most of the time it's easy enough to just play along and feel like you're in the story. The only time that's not really true is during the in-game talky sequences, when there's just something not quite right about the way the NPCs move. During the rendered cutscenes, they're generally fine ... but in-game, they start to get this "too-twitchy Super-Marionation" thing going on that really knocks you out of it.
Watch starting around 1:48 to see what I mean...
Still, it was fun enough to make me stay up to 4:00 a.m. playing it, so it musta had something going for it, right? And it did give me some cool inspirations for my campaign, which was the intended purpose, so mission accomplished there. :)
The Doctor Meets Richard Nixon, and Other Crazyness
The other cool bit was watching "The Impossible Astronaut," the first adventure of the new Doctor Who season. It certainly opened with a bang! They're going to have to work hard to make the payoff match the opener, tho. I am glad to see another of the !TARDIS ships from "The Lodger" make an appearance -- hopefully they'll explain just what the deal is with those. Presumably it's related to the whole "silence will fall" motif, but just how remains to be seen.
Good stuff! :)
Unfortunately, now it's back to work. Alas!
Oh! Before I go, this week is show prep week for the next episode of The Short Story Geeks Podcast ... so if you have anything you'd like to hear us cover or if you have feedback for last week's show, now's the time to tell me (either in comments or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks!