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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II Review

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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August 16, 2014

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Van Helsing and his ghostly companion Katarina set off on a campy journey to save the gothic metropolis of Borgova and it’s people.

Don the hat and cape. You are Van Helsing!

In the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II you play as the son of the infamous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing. After taking down the mad scientist, Professor Fulmigati, and his deadly robotic contraption that terrorized the city of Borgova, you lead the resistance movement against the corrupt government.

Your new nemesis is General Harker who has a firm grasp of the city. While things look grim you are not without help. A faceless inscruitable being called Prisoner Seven is using his magical powers to act as your informant.

Initial Impressions

I am pleasantly surprised with my first foray into the supernatural action RPG world of Van Helsing II. Pleasing graphics, an interesting campy companion and an entrigueing system set up that’s going to guarantee that I complete it.

You have three interesting characters to choose from when you start the game. The traditional sword slashing Van Helsing, the Thaumaturge who wields occultic powers and the arcane mechanic who handles some cool weapons. This, of course, allows you to fight your way through a throng of enemies with swords, pistols or magic. Take your pick.

The arcane mechanic is in particular fun to play. The class focuses on deploying robots, mines, turrets, grenades and other machinery on the battlefield. You can then maximize your character’s powers to fight by proxy if you wish.

If you played through the first game and completed it you can carry over your level 30 Van Helsing to this game and get started on the ‘Veteran’ run. You can also put together a custom character of any class at level 30, or choose a pre-made one that the developer NeoCore has constructed.

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Lady Katerina

Lady Katerina is a ghost that turns into a terrifying banshee when fighting. You can control her stats and outfit her the way you like. She can be set to ranged, melee or ghost form the latter of which helps buffs Van Helsing’s defenses but prevents her from fighting enemies. You can even set her targeting priorities.

Eye Rolling Pop Culture References

Van Helsing and his ghostly parnter, Lady Katarina, have some amusing yet goofy conversations that are often filled with pop culture references that are gauranteed to make your eyes roll and cause you to slap your forehead in disbelief. Here’s one. Brace yourself!

Van Helsing is searching for Private Bryan. “What’s so important about him,” Van Helsing’s ghost companion Lady Katarina asks. “Does he have a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead?” Don’t even get me started about gollum. Still, it gives it that delicious campy feeling that I’ve had a taste for ever since I saw Doc Savage and Zorro the Gay Blade.

The Lair of Van Helsing

Early on in the game you’ll be defending Borgova from enemy attacks. You’ll be ordering soldiers to defend certain areas while diving into the thick of combat. Thankfully, there are places that can teleport you around the city and I love the fact that I can also use it to teleport to the location of my co-op partner who I was often getting separated from due to the chaos of battle.

Every hero of Van Helsing’s stature should have a lair! You are given a secret lair where you can marshal troops, craft new equipment and guide the resistance movement. You will encounter side quests where you choose a suitable hero to go on a mission. You might have a choice between a stealthy, scientific and heroic hero. You can assign soldiers to them. These soldiers can be upgraded for the mission.

From here, you have a few primary objectives to complete that all support the resistance’s efforts to take back the city of Borgova. Story driven the game is not but fortunately the game’s creatures and environments and the powers you unlock make up for it. You will find yourself in a number of different environments and a variety of striking locales.

Should you wish to linger longer in the world of Van Helsing you will find plenty of supplementary quests to do so. A tower defense minigame. Hire soldiers, upgrade their equipment, put together a small army of them and send them out to do your bidding. They will return with valuable loot and gobs of cash. Non-player characters offer additional quests as well also filling your coffers with money and loot. There are also shops for purchasing desireable items and making your Van Helsing the super cool killing monster hero he’s meant to be.

Van Helsing can even have his very own pet chimera that can be summoned during combat or sent off to collect gold or special portions.

The Skill System

The game features a unique style skill modification system that seems pretty complex but is fairly easy to put in play. There’s a lot of space bar and clicking which feels like I’m mashing a little too much but I have still to master everything and I have found the game overall engaging.

You pick the skills you wish to use, modify them then spend your rage that you gain by killing enemies to increase things like the damage of your fire or add a fear effect to your power causing the enemies to run when they see you using it.

Reputation

Slaying the most menacing monsters will gain you reputation which is measured in a separate badass bar. Leveling up reputation has a range of perks like adding more inventory slots for your character or permanently buffing Katarina.

I never played the first game but I’ve heard Van Helsing II builds on what worked in the first and expands into new territory. For example, the tower defense mini-game is more indepth and interesting. There is also a lot more replayability given that there are now three more characters to choose from. Each one has their own extensive skill set, play styles and gear.

Graphics

The graphics of the game look good and I had no problem playing it on my five year old notebook’s Nvidia GT 540M graphics card. I like the art direction and they certainly have successfully created a game with a lot of atmosphere. You can zoom in a little closer to see the characters and the environment better and zoom out to see the big battles and how far away your enemies are.

Multiplayer

The game has a four-player cooperative mode and a PvP area. Those who reviewed the game when it first came out mentioned that there were problems with the multi-player aspect of the game but I haven’t encountered any problems yet myself which leads me to believe that most of them have been dealth with.

My ghostly companion Katerina was by my side at the beginning of the game and so to my gaming partner and his ghostly companion which also happened to be … Lady Katerina. It seems a bit odd to have two identical Katerina’s in the game but okay…

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Stats for the active skill Bash.

Initial Verdict:

A game that just about everyone agrees is head and shoulders above it’s predecessor. I find there is a lot to like in this somewhat quirky and campy game. Art direction provides a suitable atmosphere. The many options to craft Van Helsing the way you want him starting with the three classes you choose from. Plenty of skills, spells, auras and weapons to keep you busy. The story, however, is forgettable though I doubt I will ever forget Van Helsing, Lady Katerina and Prisoner 7. This game is massive and packed with secrets and details that is yours for a measly $US14.99. After several hours of playing I’ll give it a tentative (and fond) 7.5 out of 10.
 
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