Sometimes, making a game based on a comic book character proves to be incredibly difficult -- if you need proof, try and name the last good Superman or Batman videogame. These titles are under a larger magnifying glass than others, and upsetting rabid fanboys can quickly turns blockbusters into bombshells.
The Hellboy movie was not that bad of a movie; it just wasn't good either. Nevertheless, nothing is keeping Konami from bringing out Hellboy, the game. Yes, it's an early build and our first hands-on, but it is making all the right moves towards a satisfying comic book game for PS3 and Xbox 360.
We don't know much about the storyline yet, other than the fact that it is not a movie-based game -- Mike Magnolia and Guillermo del Toro are penning the finishing touches on bringing the story together. They're also working closely with developers to provide insight on narrative in the Hellboy universe. And yes, Ron Perlman will return to reprise his vocal role as Hellboy. So good -- we have our key players in place, but what about the gameplay?
The short one level demo Konami had on hand at Gamer's Day was enough to demonstrate the experience the developers want to achieve. The demo level, a rain soaked deserted town, had us doing all sorts of fun things like punching through walls, fighting Midna-like creatures and getting a feel for the overall cinematic approach to the gameplay. As we ran into different zones of the vacant town, the camera was constantly changing to different fixed positions a la Ninja Gaiden.
[Click the image above to check out all Hellboy screens.]
Our attacks on the drones were executed by button combinations (X, X, Y, etc.) which yielded different attack animations. We could also grab just about any object on the level -- boxes, poles, and even the heads of the drones. It's not quite to the point of Dead Rising item availability, but enough to add a degree of satisfaction after you throw a pole into the head of an enemy. The game did run a bit slow, which was probably due to frame rate stuttering and tons of artifacts flying around the levels -- we kept punching and throwing just about anything and everything we could get our hands on.
With all the eye candy -- and there was some awesome eye candy -- the gameplay didn't bring anything new to the brawler genre aside from the environmental interaction. We're going to say that, at this point, this is a good thing -- it doesn't overcomplicate a simple and fun formula.
Multiplayer/Co-Op features were mentioned but not shown -- we only know that we'll get a chance to play as Abe Sabien, Liz, and "a secret character" from the comics. After what seemed to be a short hands-on with this promising superhero game for PS3 and 360, we are looking forward to checking out Hellboy before its intended Fall 2007 release.