Crossing Streams With Ghostbusters The Video Game Things I learned as a novice Ghostbuster: Proton packs don't need reloading, but they do need venting or they'll overheat. Hmm, wonder if those clouds of steam could have something to do with the blood in my urine? The PKE Meter is great at tracking down errant ghosts and seeing in low light situations but don't get caught holding one, other wise empty handed, when a ghost comes at you. Slapping a ghost around a room, while fun and even necessary before trapping, really cuts into profits after you pay for the damages. Sure Ghostbusting is fun, but tragically, watching someone Ghostbust can lead to nightmares, especially if you're seven and about to go to bed. You can't start fires or blow stuff up with your unlicensed nuclear accelerator, but you can cross streams. Turns out that doesn't do anything really. SPOILERS AHEADYesterday I got a chance to take a July build of Ghostbusters: The Video Game for a test drive on my Xbox 360 debug unit. (The same one, it looks like, that McWhertor tried at Comic-Con) While it was loads of fun to play, it was also exceptionally short, more a tease than a taste. The demo started out with my character, an entirely new trainee for the growing Ghostbuster mythology, standing in front of the New York Public Library in front of a mammoth crowd of cheering, chanting New Yorkers held at bay by police. After a short intro by Egon, Stantz and Winston, and a bit of surprise ghost action, we made our way inside to start off what turned out to be a training mission. First up, learning how to use the proton pack. Pressing a button has you pull out your neutrona wand and brings up a small crosshair. (You can turn the crosshair in options) Pulling the trigger fires off a suitably impressive proton stream that wavers and flicks around the screen as you aim it. When the stream licks across objects it leaves a scorch path traced with angry red glowing lines. While I was able to mark up the wall and break a few small items I wasn't able to light up my friends. Instead the stream went dead automatically whenever I pointed it at another Ghostbuster and they quickly told me off. After a bit of playing around a ghost, sort of a leaner, meaner, bluer looking version of Slimer, came zipping through the library's cavernous entrance. The graphics were fantastic, and surprisingly, a little creepy. After the spectral display Ray tells me how to use the P.K.E. Meter. The one downside, you can't equip it and the wand at the same time. Hellooooo Doom 3. As soon as you equip the meter you also slip on a pair of paragoggles which allow you to see ectoplasmic activity, like ghosts flying straight at you when you don't have an F-ing wand in your hand. Fortunately, this first intro to the meter has you walking around the entrance looking for activity and eventually tracking the ghost to other rooms. Eventually you meet back up with the other busters, who took another route, in the central reading room. As you walk in Ray and Egan are lighting up the place. As you walk through the room things start flying all over the place, first desks and chairs and then books. As the books fly about they start to swirl back together and form a monstrous book golem. This first battle with a ghost doesn't last too long, but gives you a sense of how the streams work (crossing them doesn't seem to cause any issues) and how you can do things besides soaking ghosts in them. For instance you can also shoot pulses down your stream called Boson Darts and even use the capture stream (after the ghost is weakened) to slam the thing around the room. I eventually tore the thing up so much it just dissipated, meaning I didn't have to tinker with my containment traps. Not yet at least. After you take care of the golem you start to realize that the group is actually here after the Grey Lady, the ghostly librarian from the first movie. You spend a big chunk of the rest of the demo tracking her movements through the library. The tracking is actually kinda fun and filled with quite a bit of unexpected frights and supernatural signs, like things stacking and floating about. It's really done quite well. The demo culminates with a battle with a pair of of these lean looking Slimers, capturing them pretty much requires using the containment traps. To capture a ghost you have to wrap it up in a capture stream and move it over the trap you've dropped. Once you do that it opens up and pulls the thing is. But before you can do that you have to weaken the ghost. The best way to do this is to slam the ghost all over the place, into walls, into the ceiling, the floor, objects. Eventually the thing goes limp and you can move it around. The whole thing felt very physical, which I think is what they were going for when they designed the mechanic. I was always sort of looking forward to this game, but this first chance to put my digital paws on a proton pack and neutrona wand has me hungering for more. The thing is, it wasn't all about lighting up and capturing ghosts, which I think is a very smart move on the part of the developers. It was nice to capture a tidbit of some of the stories that I hope will fill the game, making it an exploration of ghost stories. I was also delighted to find that the humor of the movie, at least some of it, seems to have find its way into the game. But what really surprised me was how the game actually gave me a few frights. In fact, I made the mistake of letting Tristan sit next to me as I played through it and it managed to make both of us jump in our seats several times. It actually frightened Tristan so much I had to tell him he couldn't play it. I think that's a good thing, not because I like to scare the bejesus out of my son but because this is a game that I don't think could thrive on humor and proton streams alone, it needs to explore the darker side of Ghostbusters as well.