# of Players:
Live (scoreboards), HDTV 480p, In-game Dolby Digital
the movie is a shallow early summer blockbuster thatís main appeal
is the vast array of classic monsters it shows off and slick
production. Van Helsing the game is a shallow outing thatís
main appeal is the vast array of classic monsters you get to kill
and slick production. So if you liked the movie, youíll probably
like the game. If you didnít, thereís little else to draw your
follows the title character through the land of Transylvania,
battling Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and other assorted
meanies through 13 different missions. Donít let that relatively
impressive number fool you though, because in truth several of them
are really just boss fights with one or two other areas thrown in to
make it seem like a ďmissionĒ. Seeing mission times of 3 minutes or
so is never a good sign, and in truth this game can be beaten in a
good afternoonís worth of gameplay (my first time through was just
over four and a half hours).
Combat is the standard action game formula Ė one melee weapon, one
long-range weapon, and several combos and dodges to compliment the
action. Unfortunately, simply dodging and firing your long-range
weapon as needed is all most of the game requires. The main
challenge in battle comes from figuring out which weapon is most
effective against a particular enemy and the sheer number of enemies
on-screen at any one time. Even when hard mode is unlocked it isnít
much more of a challenge, since you start with everything (including
the almighty chain gun) you earned in the normal mode.
In addition to the simplistic gameplay, the camera jumps around from
fixed location to fixed location. The result is a viewpoint thatís
not always ideal, often resulting in getting backed into a corner
and pummeled unnecessarily. Itís particularly bad during boss
fights, as the boss character will often be off the screen
completely forcing the player to rely on the weapon lock-on. While
never game-crippling, it is annoying.
Like any good game of this sort, thereís also a ton of stuff to
collect. Green crosses come spewing out of defeated enemies and
destroyed inanimate objects, and may be used to purchase upgrades
and items from the armory at the end of each mission. Special cheat
glyphs open up a bunch of mostly useless modes that can be chosen
from the inventory menu, including stuff like Big Head Helsing.
Easter eggs unlock one of several different challenge missions, and
there are also items that provide ammo & life refills.
Graphically, Van Helsing has that look most multi-platform
games on Xbox have. The character models arenít as complex as Xbox
exclusives, and the environments (while impressive) feature a lot of
blurry textures and repetitive areas. Thatís not to say itís
terrible, because the monster variety is impressive and the
attention to detail (particularly the descriptions of a lot of
objects) in each environment shines. Load times are virtually nil,
with a neat-o transition from the main menu to the last save point
in seconds and minimal wait times during the action. On the whole
itís a competent representation of Transylvania, and the unique
setting adds to the enjoyment of the game.
The sound is similar, with some good voice acting featuring several
of the movieís stars (cheesy accents actually fit for once!) and
varied sound effects. The music is epic and sweeping, and thereís
enough environmental ambience to make the woods feel like woods.
All of Universalís major classic monsters are here in fine form.
Fast and frantic action.
The load times are virtually nothing.
This game is very short, and unlocking hard mode doesnít add much
Simply dodging, firing, and then dodging some more can beat almost
The graphics donít seem to have been optimized for Xbox in the
If youíre a fan of the movie or classic monsters, this might be
worth a rental or budget purchase once it drops in price.
Otherwise, thereís little reason to pick this up over the slew of
action games already out there.