IGN Review of Hellboy: Science of Evil
As a comic book fan, I've read the occasional Hellboy comic, I enjoyed the original movie, and I'm tentatively looking forward to the new film in two weeks; but none of that helped me while playing Hellboy: The Science of Evil.
This game is not fun.
Based on the popular comic series that features a demon working for the U.S. government, Hellboy: The Science of Evil presents you with six chapters to repeatedly tap the square button through as the big red guy. Each one will open with a "cutscene" that features Hellboy -- voiced by his movie counterpart Ron Perlman -- speaking in a desperate attempt to set up a non-existent story before slugging off to beat X number of villains to open a ghost barrier so that he can move to the next area. What's in the next area? Why, it's another group of enemies you'll have to defeat to open the next ghost barrier, of course!
These ghost barriers will pop up in levels set in a forest, the desert, a graveyard, and Von Klempt's castle. The enemies you'll face will be -- respectively -- masked warriors, Nazi zombie-types, little men with rings in their heads, and lizard men. You'll beat these baddies by pounding the square button. This will cause Hellboy to punch repeatedly and do some uppercuts and whatever. Since he's a big guy, the attacks will be slow and occasionally leave you defenseless as you finish a move. If you like, you can tap the triangle button. This makes Hellboy's hand glow. He'll hit the bad guys with the hand, but the attack won't do that much more damage. When you finally defeat these enemies -- it takes way too many punches to drop the lowest tier of foes -- they'll release blue energy. This will fill your blue stuff meter. You can press both sticks in to unleash the blue stuff, and Hellboy's hand will be set on fire. These attacks seem to be a little bit more powerful. When a bad guy begins to flash in black and white, you can grapple with the jerks to pull off finishers and get some health back. If so inclined, you can play the same six chapters in co-op either via split screen or online. One of you would be Hellboy and the other would be Liz Sherman or Abe Sapien. These characters are only available here and don't appear in cutscenes.
There. I've now told you enough so that you can fake it to your friends that you've played Hellboy.
Man, I really don't know where to begin on dissecting the train wreck that is Hellboy: The Science of Evil. It has to be one of the most boring games I have ever played. Area after area is filled with lame enemies -- when the lizard men fall and climb back to their feet, they look like guys in rubber suits that you need to beat into submission. That's all this game is. There are "bosses," but none will provide you with any challenge or fun moments. The first time I faced off with this gorilla the main bad guy had altered to be able to throw metal fists on chains, I died a few times because I'd get locked in a combo animation -- square-square-square is a combo, as is square-square-square-square-square -- and the gorilla would get close to me and kill me. That was annoying, but by keeping my X pressing in check, I was able to knock out the building supports that were in place and bring the dwelling down on the beast.
Most boss fights are this ridiculous and easy. One had me fighting a giant worm. Although the thing had these massive tentacles with Venus Flytraps on the end, it never hit me. The worm flailed its arms wildly, but I just jogged around while dodging the zombie-Nazi types and picking up stuff to throw at the worm's giant eye. When it was hit, the beast leaned over towards these statues that emitted orange energy when I activated them. This process killed the beast.
None of that really makes sense, and Hellboy doesn't bother to explain. You never go back to the B.P.R.D. for a mission briefing or anything -- you're just tossed into a level -- and a few of the chapters take place a few decades ago so there's really no overarching story to connect the six tales. Sometimes you'll punch through a wall and meet a talking skeleton who will try and give you a reason for why you're going to battle a worm or whatever, but it's vague and uninteresting.
On top of that, the camera in Hellboy is a fixed perspective. This means the camera is set up in one section of a level and won't change until you move to the next section. That means you'll have areas that you can never truly investigate because you can't maneuver into the tight space, and you'll be open to cheap shots when you're battling a horde of enemies and move to an area that flips the perspective and controls.
So, we've established that the gameplay, story, and presentation suck; let's move on to graphics. Frankly, this game looks like it was meant for the original Xbox. Environments are usually bland open spaces like a decrepit building top or outside environment with green carpet. When Hellboy runs through the waterways in the game, some crazy things appear at his feet to simulate splashes. When the action gets going, the framerate drops. Hell, in the opening movie, Hellboy's foot clips through his jacket. Even the extras, which are interviews and a behind the scenes video that are unlocked by finding artifacts in the levels, aren't in HD.
On the sound side, The Science of Evil managed to snag Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones to reprise their movie roles (Hellboy, Liz, and Abe), but what could've been the silver lining gets lost in a sea of blah. Sure, Perlman's with you the entire game, but what's it worth when all he says between uninformative cutscenes is "Crap" and "Hey?" On top of that, the orchestral music playing throughout the game is always way too quiet and sounds muddled.
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