electricboogaloo's Hellboy: The Science of Evil (Xbox 360) review

The science of mediocrity

It’s safe to say that I’m quite a Hellboy fan. The world created in the two movies is fantastic, and I just love the character - even taking the time to dabble in the comic books. Hellboy: The Science of Evil dips in to both these mediums, creating a universe more suited to the comics whilst also borrowing elements from the films. Sadly, it fails to live up to the name, descending to a place far worse than hell itself… mediocrity.

There’s not really much of a story to talk about. You’re basically just thrown into each level with little to no explanation or reasoning behind it. Adding in some random flashback missions doesn’t help matters in the slightest, and you’re left wondering “why?” On the plus side, Ron Perlman reprises his role as the big, red, kitten-loving machine, but he’s sparingly used. Even Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien - two major characters in the universe - can only be seen in co-op - they aren’t included in the single player in any way, shape or form; wasting the Hollywood talent providing the voice work.

The rest of the game continues the poor form, with gameplay offering nothing more than boring, button-mashing. Just tapping X gets the job done, but if you want some extra thrills you can also throw Y into the occasion to deal a tad more damage. It’s extremely boring, and Hellboy’s slow-moving attacks leave him susceptible to damage, which can get pretty frustrating after a while. Grabbing enemies is more of a hassle than need be, with the right trigger being extremely unresponsive. And who’s idea was it to make the throw button the right trigger as well? It just means that when I tap it out of frustration I end up grabbing the enemy and throwing him rather than using a finishing move like I wanted to. It’s all just excruciatingly tedious, repetitive and uninteresting. Extracting an ounce of fun out of it is a difficult task, indeed. Even dragging in a second player for the aforementioned online/offline co-op is a bore. It just ends up making Hellboy: The Science of Evil even easier than it was before. There’s not even a defensive button since enemies just stand there waiting to get hit most of the time.

You’ll fight annoying little creatures, werewolves, lizard people and Nazi zombies, but none of their attacks are varied enough - when they decide to actually do something - and you’ll just end up pressing X over and over again to defeat them. The environments aren’t much better, following the monotonous old rule of locking you in a small arena until all the enemies are cleared away with linear pathways guiding you between each one. This is supposed to be an Xbox 360 game, but it feels more like it was intended for the original Xbox.

And the same can be said for the visuals. Hellboy looks the part with his signature look of giant hand and mutton chops, but the rest of the environments are pretty bland and uninspired. You’ll fight your way through graveyards, forests and deserts but textures in each area are weak and drab, with bland character models lacking diversity; and the, admittedly cool-looking, destructible areas just hamper the framerate. The locked camera doesn’t help as it’s usually too far away or too close, leaving you open to attacks from off-screen enemies. And it also has a habit of blocking objects from view, so exploring is basically out of the question.

Sound-wise the music is pretty good, but it’s normally too quiet to really hear; and as I mentioned earlier, the voice work is put to waste in the non-existent story. Ron Perlman has built up a vast resume of video game voice work so you’d think they’d at least put him to some use with his most iconic character. No such luck.

Hellboy: The Science of Evil is an uninspired mess. With a franchise like this it’s sad to see it put to waste. But if you like pressing the X button a lot, then this is the game for you! The rest of us will avoid with ease as another tedious brawler slips out of thought.

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