Hellboy: The Science of Evil Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

If you’re a core gamer looking for the next challenging game after completing the likes of Ninja Gaiden II, then Hellboy: The Science of Evil is definitely not the one for you. This is a game that doesn’t require any dedicated practice and hasn’t even got any difficulty levels to speak of, thus it is a game that has seemingly been made with one audience in mind, and I’m not talking about the superior beings that can give Ninja Gaiden a good thrashing without breaking a sweat.

Hellboy: The Science of Evil may have been released shortly after Hellboy II: The Golden Army, although the game doesn’t follow the plot of the movie and is instead a completely fresh narrative. All good you may be saying to yourself, although the actual plot is a total mess and is only saved by Ron Perlman reprising his role as the titular Hellboy. Perlman is as excellent here as he is in the movies and fortunately gets plenty of humorous lines to chuck out.

The game is certainly better than the nonsense storytelling and if you’ve played the likes of God of War, then the play style should be familiar to you. Science of Evil has a two button combo system with the traditional weak and strong attacks, a simple role move for avoidance, a grapple button (which happens to be rather fiddly) to pick up and/or finish off weakened enemies and a gun (Hellboy’s cleverly titled Samaritan pistol) that allows you to do the demon killing without having to get too close to all the ugliness.

You can of course mix your gun and melee attacks up, although don’t expect anything as fancy as, say, Devil May Cry. The combat isn’t particularly fluid or fast, although it does come across as rather painful and Hellboy’s oversized stone hand would translate well to any game.

The shooting is satisfying enough and allows you to flick through targets with ease. The Samaritan also has interchangeable ammo with various types being introduced to you as you journey through the six levels. One ammo type paralyses enemies for a short time, another explodes them and so on, with certain ammo being helpful for particular enemies. Ammo is accumulated in various ways, including from boxes (which are often hidden away), from specific elements in the environments and even from the odd enemy (it would be kind of them, if only I didn‘t have to kill them first in order to obtain it).

Hellboy is also able to make use of a number of weapons, which can be used in a melee manner or lobbed towards an enemies ugly head. Tossing boulders, barrels and melee attacking with swords are some of the highlights of a fun but limited game.

There’s multiplayer cooperative, in which a second player can join in as either Liz Sherman or Abe Sapien, whilst the host of the session remains as Hellboy. If you’ve previously only played the game in single player it gives you a chance to try out the different attacks of each character. Multiplayer can be either played in split screen or over Xbox Live. In split screen the game suffers from a poor camera that is often zoomed too far out, whilst the online obviously doesn’t suffer from any such problems, with a full screen and a great camera, if you have access to online play it’s clearly better played this way. The story remains the same and the second player always stays hidden during plot sequences, which is odd given that the game was supposedly built around coop play.

But as noted in the opening paragraph of this very review the worst flaw is the lack of any real challenge and the absence of difficulty levels. Most will be able to breeze through this without any problem, and not even the bosses (which are largely forgettable) will stop you in your tracks. At least beating enemies up and battering doors down manages to stay fun, despite few breaks in this cyclic nature of the game.

Graphically the game is superb, with a fantastic model representing our favourite witty devil, as well as stunning lighting and stages that mostly avoid being too bland. The second stage takes place within a Japanese forest backdrop, and in a nice touch when Hellboy makes contact with the foliage it moves accordingly, whilst many of the stages also have destructible portions.

Hellboy: The Science of Evil is a decent four to five hour action title, although similar action has been produced elsewhere with much better results. The game is mostly unchallenging and offers no real replay value, other than finding the traditional hidden items and going through again with another player in coop. I’ve certainly seen much much worse, although this is one that would be better sampled as an enjoyable weekends rental, particularly at its current over expensive retail price.