Video Game Review

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  • Platform: Playstation 2
  • ESRB: Teen
  • Players: 1
  • Genre: Action
  • Publisher: VU Games
  • Developer: Saffire
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: B
  • Sound: B+
  • Gameplay: B+
  • Replay: C+
  • Fun Factor: B
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: B+


Does the game slay monsters or slay gamers?

By Troy Roberts     June 03, 2004

Van Helsing takes on the Wolf Man in this screenshot from the video game.
© Vivendi Universal Games

So, at the box office, VAN HELSING has made well surpassed the 100 million dollar mark, making it a pretty successful movie. With a movie that was bound to be as popular as it is, Vivendi Universal capitalized on the "sure to be success" of the movie and created a game based on the title character, and while it doesn't have any cutscenes from the movie itself, does a pretty good job of retelling the story in video game format.

Certainly, VAN HELSING (the movie or the game, it doesn't matter) doesn't score a lot of points in the originality category with its interesting storyline. If you combine all of monsters that most of us grew up with, throw in a monster hunter (who is played admirably by Hugh Jackman), then the plot for VAN HELSING is pretty much complete. You take control of the title character and must battle your way through about a dozen action packed levels, fighting such enemies as the Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and even Dracula himself.

VAN HELSING is a pretty linear action adventure game. As the movie borrows so heavily from other movies and ideas, the game also borrows pretty heavily from other action games, namely Capcom's DEVIL MAY CRY. Much like Capcom's hit, VAN HELSING equips players with dual pistols and blades to begin with, both of which you can fire/swing about as fast as you can tap the buttons. Later in the game, you can acquire new weapons such as a crossbow, shotgun and twin scimitars. With these weapons, you can pull off some pretty interesting combos, such as knocking enemies into the air with your blades and finishing them off with your guns before they hit the ground. Sounds like fun, no?

Also like DEVIL MAY CRY, VAN HELSING gives you no control over the camera, which can occasionally be a bit problematic. In most cases, the camera works pretty well going from one screen to the next, but occasionally, you'll get backed up into a wall and won't be able to see what you're firing at. This isn't too much of a problem since your character can lock onto the nearest enemy and continue firing, but it is a bit of a nuisance. The controls are fairly responsive, and there always seems to be enough enemies on-screen to keep you more than occupied. To add some variety to the game, gamers are presented with a few easily solved puzzles, which make you want to explore a bit for the few hidden secrets found in the game. Even with the puzzles and all, the game can probably be finished in about 10 hours or so, tops.

VAN HELSING is a decent looking game at best. While Hugh Jackman's character is a pretty accurate likeness of him, in close-ups you will notice his clothes clipping through his body and things like that. Other than him, though, most of the enemies look pretty generic and blocky. The backgrounds also leave a bit to be desired. Sound quality wise, VAN HELSING presents gamers with a pretty nice instrumental soundtrack and a nicely recorded vocal track done by Hugh Jackman.

While most video games based on movies get a bad rap, VAN HELSING surpasses this by doing the same thing the movie does: bring a lot of elements in from surrounding sources and building on it. Sure, it could have been a bit better, but if you're looking for a fun action game that doesn't require a ton of thought, you'll have a good time with this.

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