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Van Helsing PlayStation 2

Published by Vivendi Universal Games
Developed by Saffire
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

Those of you that have seen the film Van Helsing will pretty much know what to expect from this game. Van Helsing is basically an assassinator of evil characters. Not just any evil characters though. Here you'll find the classic evil characters such as Mr Hyde, Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein etc., which I suppose will give the game added charm for those of you who are interested in such characters. Such is the nature of the game that it could only belong to one genre, the action genre, and it's certainly full of action.

If you've played Devil May Cry you're really going to feel at home with Van Helsing because it has more than just a passing resemblance to Capcom's game. The game contains a total of 13 missions. There are 22 different types of enemies and 8 boss fights in the game. Van Helsing has a variety of weapons during the course of the game (including an unlockable elephant gun) but to begin with he has his two pistols, two hand held Tojo blades and a grapple gun. Essentially though the different weapons that Van Helsing will acquire allow you to decide between melee or ranged attacks. Van Helsing also has to use special finishing 'kill moves', which add something extra to the game.

It's not all combat though, although a high percentage of the game is, and there are various puzzles that have to be solved. The puzzles are not too difficult and help to break up the action from time to time. As for the combat itself it's fairly straightforward. Thanks to having an auto-aim feature included, and it's turned on by default, combat is very straightforward. The trick with the combat is working out which weapons are effective with a particular enemy and once you've cracked this you'll have an easy time of it especially on the easy difficulty level (there are three difficulty levels in all). Collecting the green glyphs from your slain enemies will enable you to purchase items from the armoury (between missions) and choosing wisely can make your task even easier. The control system is comfortable and as a result the learning curve is a minimal one that takes only a few minutes to learn.

Whilst the graphics are actually quite good the same cannot be said for the camera angles. Instead of letting you control the game camera with the right analogue stick, control of the camera has been taken away from you and you're forced to put up with the fixed viewpoints that are on offer. The camera is similar to what you'd find in Silent Hill/Resident Evil games in that once you've moved to a certain position the camera angle will move to another location. This can be disorientating and will, at times, get on your nerves but thankfully it's not too damaging. As we've just said though the graphics do look good and generally the characters look and move fairly impressively. The game can be played in 60Hz mode too, which removes the small top and bottom borders that you'll encounter in the default 50Hz mode. The frame rate is fairly constant but there are moments when it dips and choppiness creeps in, but for the most part it's fine.

Van Helsing is, thankfully, subtitled by default and as a result is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the subtitles being shown in the lower border. Tutorial messages are also shown in text. However sometimes this text is a bit obtrusive and can get in the way. It would have been better if the game had paused and displayed a dialogue box but this is only a minor gripe. Text also appears if you try to open a door that's locked or if you encounter a puzzle and as a result it means that you won't have any problems with progressing through the game, which is good news.

If you enjoy action games then Van Helsing should definitely appeal. The major fly in the ointment though is the camera angles, which can be disorientating at times. It would have been much better if you could have controlled the camera yourself via the right analogue stick but unfortunately you can't. The game, whilst fairly enjoyable, is not one of the longest we've ever played. To compensate for this you can play through again on the hard difficulty setting and you'll still have the weapons and items that you collected the first time round. However this is a double edged sword because by having all those extra weapons and items it means that you'll have an even easier time of it the second time round. All things considered though Van Helsing is a solid action game that fans of the movie, or indeed Devil May Cry, will probably enjoy.

Overall Game Rating: 7.2/10
For once a fairly enjoyable game of a film. It borrows heavily from Devil May Cry but this certainly isn't a bad thing. The camera angles are a pain though and it's a shame you can't adjust them yourself.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The game is subtitled by default.