In short bursts, all this is a reasonable amount of fun, and while Krome has thrown in the odd, very simple puzzle here and there, the game generally plays safe by throwing wave after wave of attackers at Hellboy during every step of his journey. And here's where things begin to go wrong. God of War and Devil May Cry both work because the developers have a deep understanding of pace. They know when to throw in the big brawl and when to mix things up with a more challenging one-on-one encounter. They know when to ease the tension off a little, when to throw in some puzzles and how to keep upping the ante from one battle to the next. The Science of Evil shows little of this, and as a result it can get a bit monotonous. You don't need to change strategies or even think much to get through most of the game; merely alternating X and Y will do most of the job for you. Worse, certain sections of the game seem to go on forever, with similar encounter after similar encounter after similar encounter. I've had worse times playing games, but I've also had much, much better.
I think the art and design teams have to take some of the blame here, too. God of War and God of War II were masterclasses in how to surprise players with different locales, build atmosphere with architectural detail and wow the gamer with impossible scale or stunning scenery – and all that on a humble PS2. Devil May Cry 4 managed much the same trick with its weird baroque fantasy on the 360 and PS3. The Science of Evil has its great moments, but it also has a lot of bland, more-of-the-same backgrounds, whether spooky Romanian villages, pastoral Eastern landscapes or gloomy caverns. Effects like mist, lightning and wet surfaces are used well, but close-up some of the textures or creature models look blocky or primitive, and few of the monsters show much in the way of design flair. Visually speaking, then, this is a bit of a mixed bag, veering towards the mediocre. By the time you're halfway through the game you're not all that fussed about what's coming next, simply because what you've already seen wasn't all that impressive.
The final big negative is difficulty. I suppose things would have been worse had Hellboy taken the Ninja Gaiden 2 hardcore only approach, but most of the time this is a game that any player worth his or her salt will waltz through. You can comfortably play for a couple of hours without dying once, and only one difficulty spike – an absurd battle against a giant Nazi ape – caused me any real headaches. As you can tell from my Ninja Gaiden 2 review, this wasn't because I'm a hugely skilled gamer, and I suspect that anyone who has played a God of War or Devil May Cry will have a similar experience.
And there you have it. Hellboy: The Science of Evil is the best super-hero movie tie-in of the summer, but that still doesn't mean that it's a particularly good game. If you were a huge fan of the movies and the comic-books then you'd probably get enough of a kick out of it to make it just about worth buying. Meanwhile, anyone desperate for a fix of action might – in these lean times – consider it as a rental. Otherwise, however, it's another slightly mediocre game you can safely ignore. Nothing more or less than that.
A reasonable action game tie-in, but one that shows little of the rich imagination seen in the Hellboy movies or comic-books. Unless you're a fan, you can safely skip the Science of Evil.