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Xbox 360 Game Review

Hellboy: The Science of Evil


Format: Xbox 360
RRP: £49.99
4 012927 032589
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 18 August 2008

On the trail of a crazed witch, Hellboy uncovers a Nazi plot for world domination and must rush to defeat the crazed Hermann Von Klempt before he can exert his evil will upon a hapless world. As a visceral brawler, the game lets players unleash Hellboy's superhuman abilities as they smash their way through hordes of enemies with contextual use of the environment for added destructive power and strategy...

With the release of Hellboy: The Science of Evil I thought that at long last developers had worked out that basing a game on a movie was a terrible idea. Instead, why not take the characters and universe and construct a game that won't suffer from poor lead times (because you can plan the story way ahead of getting any idea of a screenplay from the movie production company) and ask the creator of the original Hellboy comic books, Mike Mignola, to have a creative input from the start.

Sounds like the sure fire way to create a fantastic game that really captures the essence of the graphic novels doesn't it? Well, the results speak for themselves - and they are not good. It's not that it's totally unplayable, just that today's gamers expect a little more for £50 than a basic beat em up that brings nothing new to the table.

So what of the plot? Well, I was a little worried when the game started without any real intro or explanation as to what was going on. Then a romp through a graveyard gave way to fighting robotic gorillas in Japan... and I was lost for words. I still have no idea what this is all about.

So it's pretty obvious that while the game's developers claim that Mike Mignola and director Guillermo Del Toro had a creative input, they obviously didn't have much, or were totally ignored. Either way, I'd love to know what input they had exactly.

Just about every other aspect of this game has major problems too - from the camera angles, to the combat system, to the fact you are shepherded through the game with no possibility of really being able to explore your surroundings... all of which I'll tackle individually.

The camera angle problem is mainly down to the fact that the camera pretty much stays static, only allowing a little freedom of movement. And, the majority of the time you appear so small on the screen that it's a bit of a nightmare to work out what you are supposed to do. There's an early example of this where you are trapped in a crypt. You have to get out but it's not easy to see where to go. There's some steps that lead to a door (which you can't see until the camera changes angle) but you can't get past that. Eventually, after jumping at every wall, I jumped up onto a platform that led outside - not really very obvious. Then, when the camera angle changes, it's sometimes from such a weird angle that it's easy to get disoriented - not to mention difficult to dispatch enemies that come at you from all angles.

The combat system is unnecessarily complex, and I still can't fathom why. Some of your enemies you'll need to bash about for a bit before you can then pick them up and slam them to the floor, or crush them in your hands - but this is not explained anywhere. So it's a little random how you smash your way through the levels. This is made even more of a nightmare when you come across any boss in your way.

And you get the feeling that the gamers are holding your hand all the way - not letting you go off and explore the world that they've created. This makes it feel like an old, and rather dull version of those old Crash Bandicoot games.

In fact the only really positive thing I can say about this game is that Ron Perlmen, who plays Hellboy in the movies, lends his voice to the game.

I'd think twice about this if it was discounted to £20 (as it will be once the movie has been out for a few months). But £50? I think not.


Pete Boomer

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