XBOX REVIEW: CONSTANTINE

With one of the best looking digital recreations of a main character from the movie it was based on, Constantine does manage to get some things right.

This game is based on the movie which was based on the DC Hellblazer comic book series which are actually graphic novels penned by various British sci-fi and horror authors. John Constantine is the demon hunter. He has supernatural powers at his disposal. His origins are different in the movie version than in the books. Suffice to say that he is a chain smoker diagnosed with lung cancer and is currently investigating the serial killings of psychics and magicians. He has the power to send demons back to Hell as well as the ability to visit Hell for certain purposes that can be beneficial to the gameplay.

I find that the game tends to gloss over things too much with the cutscenes. There's not enough clarity to the plot. I suppose one should be familiar with the movie in order to fully understand the concept although it works the other way around and should pique players' interest in seeing the movie or reading the books. The cutscenes are interesting and imaginative if not a little bit esoteric. The demon-fighting concept lends itself perfectly to a videogame although I don't think the Hellblazer series was done justice. The movie is a horror version of the Matix and the X-Files which obviously inspired elements of the game. It does take some liberties even with the movie plot but if it's going to last five times as longs it simply has to.

Creatures range from malevolent decomposed bodies to flying half-angels and all varieties of supernatural monsters in between. Throughout the game you will hunt for clues to unravel the mystery of the serial killer while solving puzzles and inadvertently stumbling across the aforementioned demons. Constantine uses pistols, shotguns, machineguns and flamethrowers which have all been upgraded to supernatural specifications. The use of magic spells will unleash more devastation on the beasts. You must enter a four-button code within a short time period to cast them. Spells will exorcise demons, unleash lightning storms and swarms of flies among other attacks.

Going to Hell allows you access to inaccessible things on Earth that will help you gain access to new areas by unlocking doors or moving crates to reach higher areas. Working in two dimensions is a neat concept but it's relegated to nothing more than a novelty in this game. The visuals of Hell are done well but it looks like the textbook version of what we all think it should look like with waves of fire and legions of demons engaged in various evil activities. I find that for all the fire in Hell, some areas are much too dark and empty. It's somewhat inconsistent.

The game is very straightforward. These enemies don't put up much of a fight in terms of intelligent interaction. They either head straight for you, swarm you or display predictable patterns as in the case of the bosses. The challenge comes from the limited resources of weapons, spells and ammo. Not all of the weapons, spells or techniques are effective on all demons so you'll have a little strategy on your hands learning what to use and what to conserve.

The image of John Constantine looks amazingly like Keanu Reeves but the voice is the work of an impersonator. It sounds like Las Vegas magician, Lance Burton, doing the delivery. It's exaggerated and has traces of that famous Jack Nicholson dry wit.

The sound effects are great but the music is flat. Graphics are sharp and animate nicely. There is a natural smoothness inherent to all of the animations. Characters are well detailed and display some unsettling means of locomotion in relation to their construction as they slither, slink, hobble, fly and float through the two dimensions.

Constantine is a no-frills game. There are no unlockables and no extra modes such as multi-player online modes. It's not very long and the gameplay is not entirely original. It will probably serve its purpose after seeing the movie if you still have a little of that Hollywood magic sparkling in your imagination. Definitely a rental.

Preview by Vaughn

Constantine is the newest adventure game from Bits and THQ. It will be based on the huge Warner Brother's Movie coming out in early 2005 starring Keanu Reeves who will play the main character, John Constantine. For those who know their comic books, yes, this is based on the DC comic series written by Alan Moore. Fans will know the series as Hellblazer. The story is about a guy who is not your typical comic hero. In fact he is part thief, mage and con artist. Let's just hope that Keanu does not have one of those cheesy lines where he looks at the camera and goes "Whoa Dude". The role should fit Mr.Reeves very well since he has the look of the character already.

The game will be in a third-person view where gamers will control John on his way to solving some bizarre paranormal events. The graphics will feature stunning CGI and will showcase some fantastic visual effects. After all, John Constantine is a paranormal investigator who just happens to possess some unique hidden talents. He can enter the same realm he is assigned to investigate. He has charm, he can con and he can kick some demon ass when need be. Players will need to use his talents to reach the next objective. Of course, the game will tie in very closely to the Movie and stay true to the comic series. The twist in the game is the fact you will play in LA and the evil plane that exists but can only be seen through the eyes of John Constantine.

Hellblazer fans will be happy to know there will be extras added for fans of the series. Visuals look great. We will have more on this truly different adventure game when the date gets closer. For now take a look at the great screen shots of the early demo and stay tuned for more on this one!

Features:

  • The videogame inspired by the highly anticipated Warner Bros. Pictures film.
  • Play as John Constantine in an intense third-person action horror game.
  • Encounter terrifying enemies in haunting locations throughout Hell and Earth.
  • Use an array of powerful incantations and an arsenal of spectacular holy artefacts including the Crucifier, Holy Shotgun and Dragon's Breath Flamethrower.
  • Use the unique "True Sight" ability to identify deadly half-breeds and other unearthly demonic secrets.
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System: X, PS2 (Box Shown)
Dev: Bits Studios
Pub: THQ
Released: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2.0