"Cut to the end, will ya? How do I kill it?"
Hellboy: The Science of Evil
Release Date: June 24, 2008
Developer: Krome Studios
ESRB Rating: Teen
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
Every now and then I get the opportunity to write a nice short review. A short review can indicate either that the game being reviewed was simple requiring little to write about or that I have little interest in writing about it. Neither reason in itself should be used to determine if a game is good or not, but I can say that when I truly enjoy a game, I have plenty to write about. Hellboy: The Science of Evil will be a short review, and not because it’s simple.
Hellboy: The Science of Evil (identified only as SoE from now on) is a hack & slash game. This is a game genre where the goal is to go around beating stuff up in relatively close combat. This genre has been made extremely popular recently with the God of War, Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry franchises of games.
SoE tells the story of Hellboy, a fictional anti-hero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola, trying to capture a witch. I wish I could tell you that the story is more exciting than that, but that really is all there is to the story. Moving on.
When I review a game, the first thing I always notice is graphic. The visual aspect can really help set the mood and give you a preview of what you can expect from the title. I am not saying that great graphics equals great games, I am just saying that if the developers spent lots of time tweaking the graphics, then they would most likely have spent an equal amount of time tweaking other parts of the game. Using this yardstick, I knew from the first level that I was in trouble. The game has a look and fell of an Xbox game. The graphics, models and textures all look bland. I am not sure where the developers of SoE took inspiration for the model of Hellboy , but the look and fell of the Red is a cross between the animated series and the movies. I love both version of Hellboy, but this hybrid of the two styles resulted in something that is not altogether familiar. It was like playing with Hellboy’s brother or close cousin.
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The sound quality is ok, but nothing special. The various game sounds all suffer the same generic feel as did the graphics. On the plus side, the game features the voice acting of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doung Jones creating a consistent sound between all 4 movies (to real life and two animated). Before you get to excited, know that the dialog was delivered in a “let’s get this over with” fashion. I am not saying the voice acting sounded scripted, but I am sure I could hear page turning during some of the dialog.
The game is not all bad. The controls are actually quite good. The main character is controlled using the left analog stick while fighting is done using the X, Y or B button. As with most hack & slash titles, combos can be unleashed by using specific button sequences. It’s a shame though that this best part of the game is wasted as, for the most part, button mashing the X will get gamers through just about every area of the game with the exception of boss battles.
On the topic of boss battles. Boss battles are as generic as the rest of the game and quite boring. The only good thing I can say about them is that there are actually checkpoints during the battle so if a gamer dies (either from damage or boredom) one needs not redo 5 minutes of tedious gaming.
I would like to know how did the developers take such a rich character, with plenty of history and pre-created rich story lines (from 8 graphic novels, and even more comics) to choose from , and regurgitate a generic bland game with no personality whatsoever. Did they not read a single issue of Hellboy? I am a Hellboy fan and any fan will tell you that the best part of the character is the dark humour. This humour is only partially present in the movies, but virtually missing in the game. Further more what little humour exist is delivered in a very unfunny dry tone.
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The problem with Hellboy extends well beyond just the lack of dark humour. The game features 6 levels, but in reality they just cut & pasted the same level 6 times. There is very little variety in each level with the exception of the enemies and textures. I could even say that each level is the same one or two rooms with connecting hallway cut & pasted a dozen times.
The funny thing is that I cannot dismiss the game. For it does some charm. The hack & slash portion of the game is actually quite fun, repetitive but fun. I picked up my game for $9.99. At that price you could do worse than Hellboy: The Science of Evil, but with games such as Crackdown, The Darkness, NHL 08, or even Perfect Dark Zero all available for the same price (or less), you could also do a lot better.