Van Helsing for Xbox and PS2. $59.99 Rating: NN Rating: NN
The first wave of big summer films has hit the theatres with a cheesy splat, and with it the first crop of movie-licensed video games. Although these games usually suck harder than a vampire on a coed, for the most part Van Helsing is an exception to this rule. This third-person action game plays very much like EA's Lord Of The Rings games. Using a variety of ranged and melee weapons, you slaughter countless monsters and boss creatures en route to a showdown with the main bad guy - in this case, Dracula.
As you slay monsters you gain points that can be used to purchase power-ups and special moves between levels. Each weapon also eventually gains a secondary mode that gives you greatly enhanced firepower or melee damage for a short period of time.
As in most third-person games, the camera can be annoying - and, yes, you will die because of it. Most of the time, however, it ends up in the right place and gives you a good look at the beautiful gothic backgrounds of Transylvania.
The game story follows the film's plot quite closely, and playing through it will ruin some of the surprises in the film if you haven't seen it yet. That said, the storytelling in the game is quite good. There are several nicely done cut-scenes and scripted events that move the plot along, and the use of some of the actors from the film, including Hugh Jackman, make for a high-quality experience.
The only thing really wrong with Van Helsing is that it's extremely short. You can blow through the entire thing in an afternoon, and there's very little reason to bother playing it again. I highly recommend it as a fun rental, but it's not worth buying. MOVIE-LICENCE CURSE Avoided. Usually the death knell for a game, this time around it actually works. The set design, music, sounds and acting all derive from the film and help make a pretty good game.
GORE Sadly lacking. Like the film, more of an action experience than a horror one.
STAR POWER They actually coughed up the dough not only for Hugh Jackman's likeness, but for his voice as well. Nicely done.