Hellboy: The Science of Evil Preview
Our favorite demon spawn protagonist returns to the silver screen this summer in HellBoy II: The Golden Army, while also making his next-gen videogame debut in Hellboy: The Science of Evil. But don’t worry, the sawed-horns hero’s big break in gaming isn’t another lame licensed movie tie-in; nope, the developers, recognizing big red’s potential as a cyber star, have chosen to create a game unrestricted by the confines of a film script. This approach worked wonders for Chronicles of Riddick developer Starbreeze, who crafted a game far more entertaining than any of the Vin Diesel-fueled flicks. And, after getting behind the Right Hand of Doom with our gamepads, we’re confident Hellboy's new film will need to go a long way to top Science of Evil’s hotter than hell experience.
Despite the original, non-movie-inspired story, the game's developers have smartly included Hellboy’s likeness and voice (courtesy of Ron Perlman) from the films. And he looks fantastic; from his devilish tail darting through the slit of his trench coat, to his signature horn-stumps, the creators have captured every demonic detail. And the crimson-colored hero plays just as good as he looks, with his menacing meat hook stealing the show. The Right Hand of Doom plays a significant role in the game, making the title a brawler first, and a third-person shooter second; the fire-and-brimstone fist yields enormous power and is the primary means of felling Nazis and demon foes throughout the campaign. Unleashing the rock-hard limb, players relentlessly punch, pummel and grapple baddies, swipe their weapons, and even pop off their heads. Once you’ve freed an enemy of his noggin’, you can use it as a handy projectile weapon. It’s especially satisfying to knock the skulls off multiple smaller bad guys, then use their rolling heads as ammunition against a larger threat. Players craving a bit more combat variety can whip-out Hellboy’s signature pistol, the Samaritan, and effortlessly transition from gun wielding to fist fighting. Additional weapons include those stolen from enemies—over-sized swords are a favorite—but these "borrowed" items, while effective, break after a short period of time, leaving you to rely on your lethal limb for most battles.
Hellboy’s universe is rich with red-ass-whuppin' adversaries, so you can expect to take on all sorts of human threats and unearthly beasts. Those damn Nazis, armed with conventional weapons as well as some supernatural surprises, put up a good fight, but the bigger baddies—a screen-filling, multi-tentacled worm-like monster comes to mind—will have little trouble tossing you into the air or through a wall. Thankfully, Science of Evil utilizes the now, almost standard, regenerating health bar; grab some cover or run around a bit, and you’re as good as new. This doesn’t mean you’re not in for a fierce fight, though, as creative challenges lurk behind every corner. Between those low-level imps and end-level bosses you'll also encounter many mid-sized threats that require you to fight strategically while sniffing out any potential weaknesses. A rampaging gorilla, outfitted with some dangerous cybernetic enhancements, proves a worthy opponent, but it’s a persistent, ugly-ass witch (an important antagonist in the overall story) that’ll have you continuously evaluating your playbook. A game relying so heavily on a hammer-like hand could easily fall into derivative beat-‘em-up territory, but the ever-changing onslaught of enemies keeps Science of Evil’s combat interesting and engaging. From the time you punch your first gremlin-like menace into oblivion, to the final epic showdown, you’ll eagerly anticipate what freak of this world—or another—waits to test your demon-powered strength.
Another combat-deepening element is the game’s excellent use of destructible environments. It wouldn’t have made much sense to create a title starring a super-strong hell spawn that couldn’t destroy anything in its path. So, the game is packed with items that can be crushed, thrown and used as weapons. Additionally, when Hellboy’s hulking physique is chucked into a brick wall or slammed onto a table, you can look forward to the realistic results as stone crumbles and wood splinters just as it should. If you take a moment to check out the environments, before reducing them to fiery piles of rubble, you’ll discover beautiful Fable-esque forests, quaint villages and creepy castles, all drenched in gorgeous gothic detail.
Aside from not being a film-tied title, little is known about Science of Evil’s plot. It does take place within a period between the two films. And with plenty of input from creator Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro, we’re expecting the franchise’s staple action, adventure, humor and quirky style to be in full force. We’re certain the golden-eyed star will be chomping cigars, dropping one-liners and saving the world as only a demon—unleashed by occult-obsessed Nazis—can. We also know the series’ other stars, Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman—voiced by Doug Jones and Selma Blair, respectively—will be playable in a co-operative mode. Although, what powers they’ll possess to make them as appealing to play as the red-skinned lead, are still unknown. We look forward to uncovering the answers to these, as well as Science of Evil’s other underworld-inspired secrets when the game lands alongside the new film this summer.