Let me throw out a few names here. Walter Peck. Tobin's Spirit Guide. Gozer the Gozarian. Are you with me so far? No? We can't continue this friendship, sorry.
Nevermind the proton packs and PKE meters. Mechanically, Ghostbusters uses a pretty standard third-person shooter format, with you controlling a new everyman-style fifth Ghostbuster alongside the original four (all vigorously voiced by the original actors, of course). Your pack acts as an all-in-one weapon with multiple firing modes that mostly mirror standard shooter weapon types. There are a few interesting ones as well, like a tripwire you can attach to two points. The game is largely without HUD; you can see selected weapon and energy level via colored lights on the backpack itself.
I played a longer segment of the New York Public Library level that's been shown at past events, the same library from the beginning of the first movie. Early on you're making your way through the ground floor, fighting off minor apparitions and monsters made out of animated piles of books. You don't have to trap the most basic enemies, like the book monsters; a good zap from the proton pack will take care of them.
Traps come into play when you're faced with more monstrous ghouls. You need to focus your beam on a major ghost for a long period of time to snare it, then flick the analog stick in directions indicated by on-screen arrows to get it in a trappable state. A good slam to the floor and you can slide the trap out to seal that sucker up.
The toughest ghosts--bosses, mainly--require a more complicated process. As you delve deeper into the library you uncover the secret lair of a crazed cultist who once resided underneath the structure. This is the guy who murdered the ghostly librarian from the first movie. You end up fighting her as the boss of this level in front of a big occult-looking ceremonial altar. She makes a shield for herself by spinning some pieces of furniture around her, so you have to take those down individually before you can weaken her and ultimately throw out the ol' ghost trap.
After you take out the librarian, you grab an occult manual called the Gozerian Codex, and then the book turns the library into a twisted nightmare version of itself that you then have to fight your way through to get back into the city itself. The demo cut off there, but this bizarro-world interpretation of the library seems like it could provide some interesting level-design opportunities.
So the shooter gameplay is largely familiar here. It's all the PKE readers, spectral goggles, and other weirdo gadgets--and more importantly, the authentic, so-familiar-you-have-to-grin sort of banter between Ray, Peter, Winston, and Egon in-game--that makes this experience feel like Ghostbusters. The dialogue was all written by Dan Aykroyd and friends, the same guys who wrote the films, and it's all totally in character and pretty funny. Ray is just as excitable and Egon as deadpan as ever, and the characters hurriedly spout tons of complicated-sounding spectral gobbledygook that you'll pick up on instantly if you're a fan of the movies. Some other neat elements are in there; you can access Tobin's Guide in the pause menu to check out info on various ghosts and phenomena, for instance. That's a nice touch.
It's rife with Ghostbusters gadgets, as well. You can pull out your PKE and go into a first-person mode to scan an area for traces of the paranormal; it acts as a go-this-way pointer when it lights up. You can put your goggles on to look for other clues, like a series of ghostly handprints on a wall that led me in the right direction. A lot of Ghostbusters' appeal was the crazy technology, so I'm glad to see those things represented properly in the game.
The level design, story, and voiceovers are virtually the same in the Wii version, but the art is totally different from the realistically styled visuals. It's way more cartoon-like, which is appropriate for lower fidelity on the Wii, and it also reminded me in a good way of the old Real Ghostbusters Saturday-morning cartoon. I guess I'm showing my age here. The exaggerated art style on the Wii seemed a little more appropriate to the setting and irreverent banter, actually. It's also got motion controls in all the places you'd expect them.
The Wii game looked like it could ship tomorrow, but Ghostbusters was showing some rough edges on the Xbox 360, mainly in the frame rate and general polish. To be fair, there's a lot going on in most combat scenarios to tax the hardware; large parts of the levels can be damaged or destroyed with physics modeling. You can bust up furniture and and blow every book off the shelves in the library level, for instance. The game isn't out till June 2009, so there's plenty of time for Terminal Reality to shine it up for release by then.
Here's a new trailer Atari put out that shows off a lot of scenes and some of the voiceovers in the game.