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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II: A Monster-Hunter's Work is Never Done...

Company: Neocore Games

Spirited Spell-Casting Monster Hunter:

If you've played the original - "The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing" game, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect, in general, in terms of the setting. If not... well, this isn't your grandfather's Van Helsing...

Van Helsing is a monster-hunter, it's true, but this Van Helsing also has the ability to control arcane powers and cast spells. Oh, and he has a sidekick who happens to be the ghost of a noble woman, Lady Katarina, which sets the stage for interesting banter and interaction between the two. She may be a bit of a debutante, but she can kick some serious butt and, when out of health, she doesn't "die," but rather turns completely ethereal until she regains some health. This little trick, in and of itself, puts her way near the top of the "Useful Sidekicks I Wouldn't Rather Just Leave at Home" list.

Can You Say, "Goth-Noir"?:

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II is a third-person view hack and slash-type game, similar to things such as Diablo or some of the more recent Gauntlet games. You play looking at sort of a three-quarter view, from above and back a bit from Van Helsing and you can zoom in or out a bit to see more detail of your local surroundings or to see what lies a bit further out around you. The style of the characters, environments and game style are referred to as "Goth-Noir", which is a term I'd not heard before, but it seems fitting. You could also think steampunk with monsters and have a pretty good idea for the feel.

There is also a small map in the upper right-hand corner which indicates where you are and where allies are located. If that map doesn't do it for you, you can also hit the (M) key to pull up a large version of the map. This version is translucent and you can see what's going on behind it to a limited degree, but I wouldn't try running around and playing the game with the large map open. Well, I wouldn't try it again, anyway.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II - Neocore Games

Hack, Slash, Level, Repeat with Gusto:

As you fight your way through increasingly large groups of increasingly difficult enemies, you will want to use your available strengths to the fullest, including the strengths of your sidekick, any allies and, if you can manage it, the strength of your enemies. There are places where you can use the destructive force of your enemies against them; my favorite so far is when the Resistance's lair is being attacked and they're attempting to target you with mortars (which indicate where they will hit shortly before hitting) and you can use those mortars to take out enemies that are chasing you about. Fun stuff.

In addition to lots of fighting, there's leveling to do. As you fight, you gain experience and as you level up, you'll be able to increase your stats and expand your arsenal of tricks, buffs, spells and the like. But, remember, you're not going it alone; you'll want to carefully select upgrades for your sidekick, as well, which include things such as the ability to triple her threat with mirror images, which is a favorite of mine.

Not Just A Content Pack:

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II is not an expansion, it's a standalone sequel. Further, this sequel promises more than a few added maps and monsters, with a full story that picks up where the last game left off, two new playable classes (including the "Thaumaturge," who specializes in all things magic, and the "Arcane Mechanic," who can create a variety of deadly traps), an extended and improved skill system and a greatly deepened item enhancement system that allows you to break down artifacts into their magical essences and then be combined, altered and applied to items to create new, powerful artifacts.

Multiplayer is also supported, allowing up to eight players to play against each other in PVP mode or up to four players to join forces in Cooperative Mode.

If you're into micromanagement, the new aspect of managing the Resistance may appeal to you; you can micromanage your allied troops, commanding them on how to attack and increasing their weaponry and equipment.

If you're not quite so hands-on, you might appreciate the Chimera (which is obtained during your adventures). Once you claim it as yours, you can send it away into the Ink to hunt for treasure. Then again, if you find yourself in a bind, it might be preferable to have the Chimera available to call it in as support during battle.

Another interesting aspect is the "Hall of Trophies" - special artifacts that affect the world around you, granting such boons as empowering monsters, granting more spellpower to you and your allies or enhancing Katarina's capabilities. Gamers who played Skylanders: Swap Force will be familiar with this game mechanic.

If you're a fan of Action RPGs or Hack and Slash games, like the "goth-noir" feel and steampunk settings or played the original game and are yearning for more, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II might be right up your dark, foreboding alley.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Related Links:

Windows Always Sometimes Monsters Windows Cosmic DJ

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