Constantine First Look

THQ shows off its upcoming companion to the comic-based film.

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While THQ just announced it will be publishing Constantine, the upcoming game based on the movie of the same name, we actually had the chance to take a look at a work-in-progress version of it recently. Veteran European developer Bits Studios is handling the reins on the game, which will serve as a companion piece to the Warner Bros. film based on the long-running DC comic Hellblazer. The game will be a third-person action adventure offering that will blend traditional action elements with some unique gameplay mechanics that are tied to lead character's John Constantine's mystical powers.

Step into the unusual shoes of Hellblazer's paranormal investigator in the upcoming Constantine.
Step into the unusual shoes of Hellblazer's paranormal investigator in the upcoming Constantine.

For those unfamiliar with the DC comic, Hellblazer details the adventures of paranormal investigator John Constantine. As is usually the case with detectives of such a unique nature, John is privy to a dark side of life that involves demons. Constantine was created by comics legend Alan Moore in 1985, and the character stands as one of the most unique antiheroes in DC's pantheon. With a personality that's equal parts mage, thief, and con artist, Constantine has remained a compelling figure on the comic landscape for well more than a decade. The movie and game will tell a tale that revolves around a series of paranormal events in the demonic underworld of modern-day Los Angeles. You'll take control of Constantine as he slowly pieces together the true implications of a series of seemingly random mystical events before facing off against the evil Mammon.

Our demo gave us a look at the computer-generated effects that will move the storyline and gameplay forward. The CG effects, while still in early phases of development, serve up atmospheric visuals, in addition to revealing a nicely rendered virtual Keanu Reeves. The narrative will play out via CG movies that show off key moments from the story. Furthermore, in-game cinematics will set up the action in various levels.

The actual gameplay makes use of a standard objective-based third-person approach. The core game seems pretty solid. Constantine will have a simple set of moves that covers the action hero basics. He'll be able to get around, and he can shoot his foes, like any good protagonist. Your arsenal will include such useful items as the crucifier, the holy shotgun, and the shroud of Moses.

But as you'd expect, the life of a paranormal investigator requires some unorthodox methods to get the job done. Magic will give Constantine that extra "oomph" when facing off against the mystical foes and forces that will stand between him and the truth. Casting spells will require you to match button inputs when prompted. If you manage to get the button combination right, you'll successfully work Constantine's magic. In addition, you'll have "true sight," which is an ability that lets you suss out whether the folks you encounter are of the human or demon variety. Another twist will be the game's setting, which will alternate between modern-day LA and it's hellish counterpart on a demonic plane (although, frankly, LA natives may not notice a huge difference). To swap between planes of existence, you'll simply need to find some water so you can cast a spell that induces a plane shift.

You'll travel between Los Angeles and a demonic plane of existence on your supernatural quest.
You'll travel between Los Angeles and a demonic plane of existence on your supernatural quest.

The graphics are looking good as well. We took a look at two real-world environments, which consisted of a building interior and a street, as well as their hellish counterparts. While still rough, the game looked good, and its modern-day areas appeared nice and gritty. The demonic counterparts were suitably menacing, and they featured healthy doses of fire and demons.

So far, Constantine looks promising. The gameplay seems interesting, and the presentation features some decent flourishes. The story seems to complement the film well, and it's poised to include some nice touches that should catch the attention of Hellblazer followers. Constantine is currently slated to ship early next year for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, which is also when the film will be released. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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