Hellboy - hands-on

By now, Hellboy fans have had time to wash the filthy taste of 2004's PSone disaster Hellboy: Asylum Seeker out of their mouths. Don't know what we're talking about? Let's keep it that way - the big red paranormal investigator is lumbering back onto the videogame scene in the fall, and this time it looks like he's coming correct.

We've stomped through two levels of Hellboy's upcoming brawler (just titled Hellboy for now), and although the game is still in really early form, it's already looking sharp. The first stage we tackled had Hellboy ambling through a village at night, under constant attack from withered little ring-headed bastards called Bambini. The rings sticking out of their heads, it turned out, came in handy when we started grappling with them, as mashing the light attack button made Hellboy yank their little noggins right off. Fun, yes, but also useful, as Hellboy could then throw those heads at other Bambini for a quick kill.

Grappling is a huge part of Hellboy's brawling style, coming into play even more when we tried out the other level, on the ramparts of a big Nazi castle. The medium-sized Nazi spooks could be grabbed and pummeled in the face with Hellboy's huge stone hand, and just about any enemy could be slammed into the ground or tossed upward for a quick aerial juggle attack.

And when we tussled with a monstrous cyborg gorilla (or "Kriegaffe" to fans of the Hellboy comics), Hellboy charged up the stone hand with magical energy, climbed onto the ape's back and punched it repeatedly in the head while dodging its attacks. It wasn't quite God of War, but it was close.