McFarlane’s Evil Prophecy Review

Todd McFarlane is an interesting man. He started off penciling on the Incredible Hulk comic book and then had a few stints at DC in the Batman universe. His big break (and the reason he is still a huge name today) came when he was handed art duties for The Amazing Spider-Man in the late 80s. Sadly, I know it was ASM #298 that he started his Spider-Man run. I own the comic and it goes for quite a bit of money even today, but not as much as ASM #300 with Venom on the cover…but I’m getting off track.

McFarlane became a household name (at least for comic book readers and their parents) in the late 80s and through the 90s. Marvel gave him his own Spider-Man book, Spider-Man. The first issue sold 2.5 million copies, a record back then and a record that might still hold today. McFarlane and his wife had a baby, moved to Portland, and Todd started thinking of starting his own publishing company. Thus, Image comics and more importantly, Spawn, was born. The first issue of Spawn sold 1.5 million copies, the most ever for an independent publisher at that time.

McFarlane went on to create what is now McFarlane Toys, a company that makes Spawn, film, gaming, sports, etc. toys. Evil Prophecy is a byproduct of the Monster series from McFarlane Toys. Think of Evil Prophecy as a twisted version of Van Helsing with Dracula, Frankenstein, Sea Monster, Voodoo Queen, Werewolf and Mummy from the Monster series all making an appearance.

The key thing to remember when going into this game is that Todd McFarlane hasn’t had the greatest track record with video games. The multiple attempts at a Spawn game has fizzled on Playstation, Dreamcast and this generation of systems with Armageddon (which Mitch reviewed). So, can Evil Prophecy, with Konami’s help, reverse things? We’ll see…

The game runs at a good clip and that’s about the best you can say for it. The simple fact is that you have the same 4 characters doing the same moves throughout all the levels. You also have the same minions and minion leaders in each level, although they change colors and get new abilities such as throwing up acid and stuff…whee!

The levels are uninspired. This game is basically a dungeon crawl, except some of the time you are above ground. The graphics look good at the beginning until you realize that the same types of walls seem to permeate through each main level. Then you have a big wall of fog that covers about 25% of the screen. Best guess is it is there to keep the framerate at a good steady pace.

The characters themselves are animated poorly. You get new combos and stuff as you play, but the animations are just atrocious. Same thing can be said for the tons of enemies that attack you in every section of the game. They are the same enemies over and over again with the same types of animation.

Don’t get me started on the camera either. It is also horrid and you never really get the angle you want. I found the L1 key to be the best camera available, although that jerked from shot to shot and it would take several pushes before I would get an acceptable camera view.

The sameness of the whole graphical package just brings this score down quite a bit.

You rarely get music in this game and it only comes when you finish whatever objective you have to do in order to get to the next section of this tedious game. The sounds are also repeated over and over again. You can only take grunting of your characters for so long and you can only take the sound of the enemy disappearing and blood spilling for so long as well.

The biggest problem this game has is that there are no voiceovers. In-between the main levels (and sometimes in sections of levels) there will be a very long dialogue between the 4 characters. The font on it is tough to read and it would have been nice if they would have put a bit of extra money into having some voiceovers. I can just imagine what kind of a difference that would be. Even crappy voice actors would be better than reading page upon page of talk.

This could quite possibly be the worst sound I’ve ever heard on a game. It’s not that the sound is bad, just doesn’t make much of an appearance.

The controls are simple, but the animations are lackluster that you might as well just pound on the X button (regular attack) as much as you want and put a little R2 action in there so you can do your magical power (if you have magic points left that is).

This game is a lot like the Gauntlet series, except that they took all the fun out and the game just doesn’t work as well as the 3D Gauntlet games did from Midway.

First thing I want to say is that I found the opening animation to be very cool and got me excited about the game even though all I heard were bad things about it. It totally reminded me of Spawn: The Animated Series, a relatively misunderstood animated show on HBO that died an early death (you can get it on DVD though). Looking at that movie I wondered if MadHouse did the animation on this one as well like they did with the HBO series…guess I should look at the manual, but why bother?

Chances are when you load this game up you will immediately think of Gauntlet, except in this game you have control of all 4 characters in story mode or your friends can join in on the Dungeon mode section of the game. The problem with this game is they’ve taken everything that was fun about Gauntlet and its newer versions and thrown it right out the window. In place of it is a constant stream of the same creatures over and over again. You literally have to go through several hundred enemies in order to pass to the next section of the main level.

The controls are so lackluster because of the animation that you will find yourself just pressing on the X button repeatedly and moving forward through the level. Why both with any of the other things, such as combo and team moves, when the good old kick gets you through everything except bosses basically.

This game also wants to be a pseudo Diablo-like game, another thing it fails miserably at. It has RPG elements in it with your characters leveling up to become more powerful, learning new moves (that you probably won’t use) and it even has a compatibility factor between the 4 characters (a pirate, a markswoman, a shaman and a scientist), although the compatibility factor never pans out at all. Your non-controlled characters just go through the enemies just like you do. Heck, there are even AI settings you can set for the other 3 characters. Thing is they won’t follow the orders you gave them.

I finally got to my first boss in the game (Werewolf) and told them to smack on the minions, but instead they went right after Werewolf and got themselves killed, leaving only me to defeat Werewolf and his tons of minions. The reason there are so many minions is because that is how you gain magic points in order to use weapons with the square button and do magic powers with R2. With them attacking the Werewolf (and dying) I was not getting any gain on magic points to unload some major damage on Werewolf once he went through his usual pattern.

If you make it to Wolfman I commend you, because if I wasn’t reviewing this game I would have packed it back up and sent it back to the place I bought it. The next level looked pretty promising with the action turning to a boat. Then we land on an island with the Sea Creature on it and the whole thing repeats itself again. Then you go through McFarlane’s other Monsters.

This game is simply a straight “beat the living heck out of everything in sight” game. It tries to do some extra things, but it fails miserably at trying to fit between Gauntlet and Diablo.

Is there any value in this game? Sure, if you leave your brain at the door and don’t mind the tediousness and repetition of the same enemies every 5 seconds after defeating the last brigade of enemies. This game does have some rather interesting unlockables though, including such things as pictures of the Monster toys, art of the enemies in the game and even interviews with McFarlane about, what else, himself. McFarlane can be interpreted as a very egotistical guy, but he was and still arguably is at the top of his game even though he seems to have left the comic book artistry in the dust and put most of his attention toward the toys business.

I had enough trouble making it to the Werewolf without shutting the game off. I enjoy many beat-em up games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon. Then I look at that list and realize I’m talking about games that came out long ago. Off the top of my head I can’t remember a memorable one that has come out recently.

If you make it through this game once I commend you because I did find that going through the levels was worth it just to see the animation and over-the-top thought process of the bosses via the mind of McFarlane. Be warned that this is a mature game, but anyone that knows McFarlane and his mind would already be aware of that.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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