Review: Hellboy – Science of Evil
By-the-numbers film tie-in tat from Konami.
As much as I love writing for Peoww every week it can, from time to time fell less of a lark and more of a chore. Sure I get to play great games like Battlefield: Bad Company and tell people if it’s worth their shekels or replay classic retro games like Pirates! Gold and wax lyrical (or wank on depending on your view) about its long term impact and such.
When it came time to review this for the UK release which coincides with the new Hellboy 2: The Golden Army movie I was under no illusions this was going to be a chore having had the game on import for some time already and well aware of just how â€œgoodâ€ it was. So up front be in no doubt, I view this game as a chore but we’ve a review standard to uphold here at Peoww so wish me luck as I once again go into battle against the twin headed beast of shitty licensed tat and inept shovelware.
Being that this is the PSP version of HB: SoE the first thing I need to talk about is that it is NOT the Xbox 360 or PS3 version, as obvious as that is. This is a cut down version made by Big Ant Studios whose CV includes some Spyro games and two Sprit Car games. There’s no voiceovers from Ron Pearlman or Bruce Campbell *sob* and no playable characters other than Hellboy himself so fans of Abe, Liz or Lobster Johnson and definately no Rodger *more sob*.
You do get the Hellboy theme music and some appearances of various BPRB foes such as nazi-head-in-a-floating-jar Von Klempt (although the swastika has been replaced by a boring ‘X’ no doubt to keep in sellable in Germany like Wolfenstein and its sequels) and several Kriegsaffe, huge mecha-apes that make interesting if somewhat dumb enemies. Without the films storyline or bigger production values of the console version this feels more like Hellboy: The Series compared to its all singing all licensed big brothers.
The plot itself is pretty standard for the Hellboy universe with a mixture of power mad nazis, ancient evils and folklore mixed together to make an even more standard running hack and slash or punch and slam as it is here. It all boils down to having Hellboy find a key for a door or just defeating a set number on enemies until he can access the next area where you fight more before moving on and onâ€¦
The combat moves are a standard (there’s that word again) quick punch, hard punch and grab. You can mix them up or string them together to make combos but much like God of War, the game it tries so hard to emulate the grab attack is all powerful and can be used to defeat 90% of the enemies in the game. For the first four levels you can use the punch combos and play the game as intended but by the time you face the frogmen who can break these combos with ease you’ll find yourself grabbing them and throwing them into a bottomless pit for a quick kill or into other enemies if there’s none around.
With the glut of terrible film tie-in games about like Jumper, Iron Man or Incredible Hulk I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from Hellboy: Science of evil. So I was surprised that it wasn’t completely horrible, unfortunately its not that great. Its your basic 3D fighter in the same vein as Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry.
This has nothing to do with the 2nd Hellboy film and is more loosely based on the comics. So the cut-scenes are done in the same style as the two cartoon films. Being on PSP, there’s no voice overs. Strangely due to the ability to unlock interviews with Hellboy’s creator Mike Mignola and Guillermo Del Toro you find out they recorded voice over work for the PS3 and 360 versions. This just makes you feel more gypped, that you’re getting a cut down version.
It doesn’t matter much though because what story is in this game is very tenuous. For example in one level you are in Romania, then via flashback you are in Japan, before going back to Romania. Its all a terrible attempt to add a level and actually add some variety to the people you fight. There must only be about 15 different enemies in this games and most of them are just slight variations of previous enemies.
Even with the added Japanese level the game is very short. It took me about four to five hours to complete. Even with the multi-player, this game doesn’t have anything in the way of longevity. It seems they’ve wasted more space on the UMD with video interviews that they could have used to actually put more game on.
If you want a decent game in this genre for the PSP go for God Of War: Chains of Olympus instead.
Secondary Score: 4/10
Your given a variety of BPRD grenades that come in the standard (how many times is that now?) flavours but the melee are so unbalanced you’ll never need to throw them. Hellboy’s trusty sidearm The Samaritan can also be used but this should be saved for the end of a stage as it can blow away many early bosses before they can even get near you leaving you only to worry about the QTE (quick-time-event) finishers.
Yep you read that right this game has QTEs *sigh*. They are infrequent and very easy when compared, once again, to God of War making me wonder why Big Ant Studios bothered to include them other than to add a line of blurb on the back of the box and possibly ensnare any on-the-fence Simon fans, if they even exist. Along with ‘borrowed’ concepts like QTEs, Hellboy also emulates God of Wars pitiful platforming antics as well with all manor of bottomless pits to fall down and invisible walls to bounce off that only serve to either slow you down by dropping you back to a checkpoint when you misjudge a jump and plummet to your death or just to break up another Zapp Brannigan section.
It’s not all inept combat and platforming though as Big Ant Studios has also been reading the chapter in formulaic game design 101 entitled â€œpuzzlesâ€. The previously mentioned find the key for the door puzzles all appear multiple time along with block pushingâ€¦ sorry cart pushing and find item A to work switch/door/machine B. As dull as it was for me to write that its even worse to play as anyone but a four year old playing a videogame for the first time would have had more of a challenge removing the UMD from their PSP and flinging it out the nearest window than having to drag another stone with runes on it to a shrine to open a door. Even thinking about it is getting me bored.
Everything in this game is third hand from the gameplay and storyline to the unlockable videos and concept art that only serve to remind you’ve wasted your money buying this tat when you should have just bought a cinema ticket for The Golden Army or better yet a Hellboy trade paperback of The Chained Coffin and Others. If you want a handheld hack and slash go for God of War as even that looks like genius compared to this shovelware pile of dogshit. There we go, Hellboy: The Science of Evil where the best thing in it is a brief appearance of a Kriegsaffeâ€¦ Aw crap.