Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Retro Gaming: Hellboy: Science of Evil (2008)

I can't recall wanting to like a video game as much as I had hoped to enjoy Hellboy: Science of Evil. A fairly recent convert to Mike Mignola's universe of characters (Hellboy in Hell, B.P.R.D., Witchfinder, etceteras.) published by Dark Horse Comics, and a fan of both films, I had not been aware of the previously released Hellboy movie tie-in console game.

When I came across a used copy for $9.99, I snatched it up, excited to get going. So excited was I that I did not even wait to spend the money to follow my traditional pre-purchase ritual of checking online reviews before plunking down $60 on an X-Box 360 game. This was an inexpensive used version, and was, after all Hellboy, so how bad could it me. It was only after returning home and checking online reviews that I became worried. Hellboy would appear to be a fairly reviled gaming experience. Really though, for the price, what did I have to lose?

Sometimes, reviewers are not that far off: as a gaming experience Hellboy: Science of Evil was incredibly frustrating, not just for what it was, but worse, for the potential it squandered.

Chances are great that if you're reading this, you are already familiar with the well-loved characters, and perhaps marginally curious if this game is worth picking up for a certain amount of "fan-factor", so I'll cut to the chase and simply start by mentioning positives and negatives as I experienced them:
  • Positives: the story adheres to both comic book and movie "universes," the voice work is done by the actor who portrayed Hellboy in the films (let's face it Ron Perlman, IS Hellboy!), the cut screen graphics are adequate and the characterization (movements and vocals) of Hellboy are solid.
  • Not-so-positives: repetitive game play, including some odd game play moments when jumps aren't jumps or necessary objects or paths are off screen and difficult to find, the game play is not very intuitive, repetitive game play, the other characters from the book/movie are missing from the main story (though appearing on the box), this lack of playability of other characters makes the gameplay even more... repetitive.
There are also the standard (for older-generation games) dissolving rocks and melting set pieces, ghost graphics and dead spots. The game play was VERY frustrating and were it not for a gamefaq/walkthrough, I would have given up on this game after the first chapter during which it was impossible to figure out just what I, as the player, needed to find to move onto the next chapter.

Say "goodbye" to the only video game I've ever "walked out of" before it was over...

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