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cover

 

Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

VU Games

 

Developer

Saffire

 

ERSB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2004

 

 

- Devil May Cry style gameplay

- Innovative grapple fun

- Celebrity voice acting

 

 

- Basically a Devil May Cry clone

- Stationary camera

- Short playing time (10 hours at best)

 

 

Review: Van Helsing (XB)

Review: Chronicles of Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay (XB)

 

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Van Helsing

Score: 8.1 / 10

 

Van Helsing has accomplished something that is unfortunately not that common these days. It has lived up to the movie it was based on. Van Helsing as a movie did not garner the best reviews but everyone agrees that its big budget special effects did not disappoint. Translating special effects from a movie to a game isn't the easiest thing (ex. Enter the Matrix) but Van Helsing manages to put it together in a well rounded package. The only thing missing is innovation.

 

van helsing review          van helsing review

 

If you have ever played Devil May Cry (and you should, as it's a great game) then you've played Van Helsing. I can understand borrowing elements from a great game (all of the extreme sports games have benefited from the THPS series) but blatantly ripping off the entire gameplay? That's crossing the line. Fortunately Van Helsing could not have picked a better game to rip-off.

 

There is however one thing innovative in Van Helsing. The indispensable grapple gun. Using this grapple gun you can explore seemingly out-of-reach places and also is the key to finding many secrets. But the most fun obtained out of the grapple gun comes in a fight. When you lock on an enemy you can fire the grapple gun to grab it and bring it closer to you for a devastating combo. (Like Mortal Kombat's Scorpion yelling "Get over here!!") The grapple gun also counters the horrid camera Van 

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Helsing is plagued with. The camera is in a fixed position with no way of controlling it manually. This results in frantic moments when you are being attacked but you cannot see your attacker. Sometimes the attack is from far off-screen and by approaching your assailant will cost you a significant decrease in health. Locking on to that off screen enemy and using the grapple gun brings them almost instantaneously to your field-of-view where you can indulge in a little revenge.

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Besides the grapple gun Van Helsing comes equipped with a variety of other weapons such as pistols, shotguns, crossbows and the easily distinguishable Tojo blades. Several 'secret' areas can be opened by these weapons. For example, some doors will only open when hit by the alternate Tojo Blades while others require a close range shot by a shotgun or an explosive weapon. The Tojo blades are really fun to use in unison with the grapple gun to mow down rows of enemies and build up your kill counter. Furthermore there is nothing like seeing an opponent shatter with a Tojo hit compared to collapse from a long range shot. Besides the grapple gun, the combat mirrors DMC completely.

 

van helsing review          van helsing review

 

One place Van Helsing falls short however, through no fault of its own, is story. This may not be the case in Hollywood but in the gaming industry nearly 1 in every 3 games deals with the main character striving to find out a forgotten past. It's so common recently that it actually degrades from the game's experience unless there is an excellent plot to back it up.  However Van Helsing as a movie was more of an action splurge than a deep spiritual journey and the game doesn't differ that much. While DMC didn't have that much of a remarkable story to speak of, there was simply no other game like it gameplay-wise at that time. Van Helsing may have the gameplay cloned but it does not boast the universal coolness that was present in DMC.

 

Van Helsing boasts an average graphical experience. Some of your environments are rendered beautifully while others at best are sub par. There is also some occasionally clipping problems but nothing significant. The music consists of lively orchestral music but only during battles. Often the lack of music is the only indicator that you have finished of all enemies as many enemies tend to lurk offscreen. The silence accompanying a battle is almost eerie but there is usually a steady stream of enemies thrown at you so you won't experience the silence that often. Voice acting is passable in this game with some star power from the movie present like Hugh Jackson voicing Helsing.

 

Van Helsing at its best is a mediocre Devil May Cry. But I would say it is superior to DMC2 and should be able to tide DMC fans over till the next sequel in the franchise. I would also recommend Van Helsing to fans of the movie because it provides you with a chance to relive the Van Helsing experience. For anyone who's never seen the movie and has played DMC, try renting Van Helsing because at best you'll only be able to squeeze 10 hours out of this game. Van Helsing is not a spectacular game but compared to other movie-to-game translations it has done well for itself.

 

- Stefan Shetty

(July 3, 2004)

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