Ghostbusters Paranormal Blast Hands-On Preview

Now that iOS devices have a built-in camera and games are making use of augmented reality technology, spooky games have the potential to be much creepier than they’ve been in the past. Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary is a recent AR game that placed freaky ghosts and demons in your hometown, but XMG’s upcoming Ghostbusters game is shaping up to be more silly than scary.

You start off the game as a new recruit for the legendary paranormal exterminators. If you’ve got your device online with location services enabled, Ghostbusters will place you in your hometown, with an overhead map and a series of ghost icons all around you that represent local hauntings. If you’re offline, the game will default to the Ghostbusters’ New York HQ.

You don’t have to leave the house to bust some ghosts, though. Just tap on a ghost, and a 3D model of the apparition will appear in your surroundings. The game uses your device’s camera to make it appear as if it’s floating around your environment. Some of the ghosts we encountered early in the game include Slimer, the Librarian from the first film, and a few generic demons and witches.

When you’re in first-person combat mode, you’ll have to swing your device around to get a target lock on the ghost. Pressing on the screen will fire your proton pack, and you’ll have to keep your target in sight before it can pummel you and force you to retreat. When it’s out of health, you can pull out the ghost trap and drag your ghost left and right until they’re contained.

Collecting ghosts becomes more difficult the further you advance in the game, so you’ll have to upgrade your equipment to give yourself stronger weapons and more health. You can also buy items that will stun ghosts, which makes them easier to capture. As you might expect, these extras can all be acquired using in-app purchases as well.

Ghostbusters is a fairly simple game, with what appears to be a few minutes of gameplay that repeat with increasing challenge. The long-term gameplay seems to be about leveling up your character and responding to “calls”, which are achievements along the lines of upgrading your equipment, or busting particular ghosts.

We’d have liked to see a few more classic moments from the movies make it into the game, like a multiplayer component (“Don’t cross the streams!”), an overarching story, or a meddling EPA agent who tries to shut down your operation. In its current form, Ghostbusters seems a bit light on features, so we’re hoping it’ll continue to be updated after launch. Ghostbusters will be available on the App Store later this week for 99 cents.

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