Hellboy: The Science of Evil Review

In spite of their simultaneous release, Hellboy: Science of Evil on the PSP has nothing to do with the Hellboy II movie.  Science of Evil not only has its own original storyline, it draws upon the comics rather than the movie for its visual style.  Sometimes being different is good, but not in this case.  Science of Evil should have looked to the latest Hellboy movie (and to games that are actually fun to play) for inspiration.

Science of Evil didn't make a bad choice with going with a comic book look for the game.  The environments look pretty good, as does Hellboy himself.  However, the inspiration ends there.  The story is bland and not at all well-constructed, often leaving you with little idea of what's going on or even caring.  The scarce dialogs in the game that attempt to progress the story as delivered through static text and are devoid of voiceovers.  Even worse, those conversations are incredibly bland, completely sapping Hellboy of his rich personality and devoid of any of the wit found in the comics or films.

Science of Evil doesn't do any better when it comes to gameplay.  The game is essentially a third person action brawler with some platform elements thrown in.  The gameplay follows the same basic script throughout the game: enter a new area, bash a large number of identical enemies until the barrier to the next area is opened, and then repeat the whole process all over again.  When an area is cleared you can run around smashing things but there's no reward for doing so, so you'll soon give p this pointless practice.

The battles in the game suffer from that hallmark of a poor action game, a pointless combo system.  The game lets you learn new combos as you progress, but there's no point in learning to string together light and heavy attacks to unleash combos when the basic button mash attack works just as well.  Similarly, the ability to pick up and toss enemies and the grenade pick-ups are completely superfluous.  Even Hellboy's trusted sidearm is neutered in the game by a poorly implemented lock-on system and a chronic scarcity of ammunition.  Boss fights don't do much to break the monotony either, as they all break down into the same exercise in running in a circle until the boss attacks and then hitting it from behind.  In an attempt to force you to use additional attacks and combos, the game periodically provides you with a letter grade based on the variety of your attacks.  These grades are tied into the game's bonus content unlock system, but rather than motivate you to mix things up it makes it seem like you're made to suffer for the game's poor combat system.

The game's platforming elements consist primarily of gap-jumping, but the only thing they add to the gameplay is frustration.  The gaps are hard to judge because of poor camera angles and inconsistent edge detection.  A fall means instant death for Hellboy, who can take demonic punches straight to the chin but can't handle tripping into a hole.  Death by falling means going back to the last checkpoint, which is never anywhere near to the jump as you'd wish it was.  Instead you'll do a lot of retracing of your steps, fighting your way through the same spawn zones as before, and then after all that you get to take your chances with the same jump again.  Not my idea of a good time.

There's no real reason to recommend Hellboy: Science of Evil.  Hellboy fans will be disappointed, action gamers will be frustrated, and no one we'll be happy that they bought this game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 46%.  Hellboy fans deserve better.


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