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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: The Final Cut

Score: 93%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Steam
Developer: Neocore Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ RPG/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

For those not familiar with the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series, it has a dark, gritty, old world sort of fell to it, which works well for the game. It also has quite a few pop-culture references and tongue-in-cheek humor that contributes greatly to the overall feel (and enjoyment) of the game. If you want more information about the series, please check out the reviews of the previous games in the links, below.

For those who already own all three of the games in the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series, while you can feel free to read the rest of this review, you can also skip down to Game Mechanics...

The same dark, gritty feel is present in The Final Cut, but the quality of the graphics have been improved - especially if you download the optional high-resolution pack for the game, which is made available with the purchase of The Final Cut.

The sound effects and voicework seem to be the same as before, which is quite good, with a nice bit of witty banter between Van Helsing (you) and your noble debutante of a sidekick, Katarina. The background music is orchestral and both sets the mood and sinks out of the way so that it's supporting the experience without drawing attention to itself and is still good enough that when my wife would walk into the room (and only be able to hear the music, not see the game), would remark that she liked the music.

The graphics are quite well done, especially given that it's a Diablo-esque game. Final Cut will put your graphical resources to work, if you set your settings appropriately, with vivid electrical effects, hazy smoke and particle effects, magical glows and, should you opt for the included optional graphical texture upgrade, detailed textures with reflection maps and filter effects. Every time Kambur O. Blythe walked by and I was playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: The Final Cut, she remarked at how beautiful the environments were.


The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: The Final Cut is an interesting approach and addition to the series. Whereas some games have been re-released with a "Director's Cut" (a la Resident Evil), and "Enhanced" or "Special" editions are often made with games and, more often, movies, The Final Cut not only adds in some extra content here and there, but also combines all three chapters of the story into a single long game.

As Van Helsing, you adventure about the dark countryside, hunting monsters and helping people with their problems (aka side quests), all the while working to uncover the mystery of who is behind the repression that has come over your beloved land of Borgova and how to beat them. Here, the typical RPG elements of leveling up and allotting points into stats and skills is fully represented, replete with skill trees that require working through certain things to unlock more advanced skills. There are also "Auras," which can provide an "area of effect" boon to you and your allies.

In addition to advancing your own skills and stats, you manage the upgrades of your ghostly sidekick as well, including some upgrades that provide synergistic benefits, allowing you to share damage or improve your speed based on Katarina's speed.

In an interesting approach to "classes," you are a monster hunter. That is what you are. However, you can choose from some different "flavors" of monster hunters, being either a marksman, a fighter or, perhaps, a master of weird science, creating machines that follow you around and assist you. The character you build will be your character through the full playthrough, which serves as an answer to a complaint that players had of the original trilogy. The second game allowed you to import your character from the first game, but the third game dropped that option, most likely due to issues with balancing difficulty.

It is important to note, however, that one side effect of the way the series has been compiled into one large game is that you can't simply jump into a certain sub-part (for example, choosing to start on the content from the second game). If, for example, you own the first game and the third game, you can't simply start up Final Cut and opt to start during the content of the second game. You would have to play through the first game's content, first.


One of the biggest challenges in developing any game is balancing the difficulty. This is especially true of games that allow you to import characters from a previous game. This, I believe, was a problem for individual games of the series earlier, but it seems to have been addressed pretty well in the combined version. I noticed that the difficulty in the parts of the game that came from the second installment in the series had more challenging enemies than I had originally encountered in the game, but that the challenge seemed appropriate; it was neither too difficult to make it through, nor so easy as to not be a challenge. That having been said, I did notice that the difficulty increased when I entered the content from the second game, possibly due to me not keeping my gear as top-of-the-line as I probably should have. Instead, I sunk a lot of money in keeping my soldiers well trained and outfitted.

If you find that the difficulty is increasing, it may be time to look into upgrading your gear. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing offers multiple ways to do just that, other than the tried and true typical "find a new one, replace the old one" bit. In addition to simple drops, you can buy items in your lair, try your luck by purchasing unidentified items (also in the lair), or enchant your existing items to add a (single) random buff or boon to it, which can include adding essence capacity. Essences look like magical gems and can be added into magic items that have essence capacity. Each essence has a certain required amount of room that it takes up in an item and each item that has essence capacity indicates just how much room it has. You will want to select carefully in order to avoid wasting space in your items. Luckily, you can also remove essences from gear, so when you go to replace an item, remember to remove the essences from it if you need them.

There is also an engineer (eventually) who can take items of the same tier (rare, magic, epic, etc.) and combine them into a new item. This can help you get some variety outside of just what you find normally in drops or vendors. Additionally, you can change an item match another, using the original as a template, so you can put together matched sets of armor, for example.

Mind you, all of the gear changing listed above costs gold, so you'll want to make sure you pick that up as often as possible. (Hint: leave no chest unopened or barrel or crate intact... there's lots of gold to be found out there.)

There were a few quests that I was simply convinced were buggy when I could not find the last of the five things I was supposed to collect or whatnot. In at least two cases, this came down to me missing a part of a level because it was a little out of the way and was beyond a doorway that I could take to go to another area. One of these was in the extreme Northeast of one map and the other was in the extreme West of another map. Thinking about it, in both cases the areas were above where I had found a door. So, if there's something you can't find to complete a quest, I guess keep looking up!

If you find that you have difficulties with the Tower Defense levels, you can pretty much avoid them and opt for your soldiers to defend the lair. I, personally, love the Tower Defense gameplay, so I haven't tried this, but it's an option that can be selected. If you just want a couple tips for the Tower Defense levels, try to concentrate on building more new traps rather than upgrading just a few traps, since enemies can (and will) eventually get out of range of any given trap, but if you have several weaker traps all along the route, you can continue to whittle them down the whole time. Second tip? Don't sit around and wait to see how the traps work. You can run around and kill enemies the good ole fashioned way, as well... and make good use of the teleport locations on the map to cover ground fast. Finally? Once you've got a lot of traps and you're looking to upgrade some, concentrate on traps that get the most traffic (possibly being able to reach multiple paths), watch for upgrade options that will slow opponents down (especially if the monsters are targetable by other traps at the same time) and watch for opportunities to get a synergistic effect between traps, such as upgrading one trap to introduce a weakness to fire, followed by another trap that does an increased amount of fire damage and, perhaps another trap that can slow enemies down as a ranged attack while they're vulnerable to fire and slowly shuffling through the enraged flames. (Bwahahah!!!)

Game Mechanics:

If you already own all three of the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing games, Final Cut is free. That's right, free. It's provided as a "thank you" to those who are fans of the game and have purchased all of the games in the series.

If you don't own any of them yet, this gets you all of the content from the games, including some extra content here and there. With the Final Cut, you can't just jump into whichever game you want, thogh, so if a friend suggests that you need to play the second game, for example, you'll have to play through the story of the first game before you can get to the content he's talking about. For this same reason, if you have two of the games (and not all three) and you are trying to decide whether to buy the game from the original series that you don't already have or just get the Final Cut version, I would advise actually buying the missing game from the original trilogy, since you would then also be able to get Final Cut for free (see above).

Note of warning for the dual-screen (or even more endowed) gamers out there... Final Cut doesn't play well with multiple monitors. I kept finding that my mouse would wander off to the other screen and I'd click outside of the game, causing focus to shift from the game in progress to whatever else was on the other monitor. If this is going to annoy the heck out of you, you might want to set your computer to use only one monitor or clone the output to all screens, so that you can't mouse off of the game. Consider this two points taken off the score for the ability to click off the screen and two points added to the score for the fact that the game freezes (as in sort of pausing, not crashing) when you click off of the game, so while annoying, it's not major.

Other than some things I missed, keeping me from completing quests, that I had to look up on the forums and some minor graphical glitches that could be my computer's install or settings and might not be any problem for someone else, the game worked well and looked great - especially with the upgraded textures.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP SP3/7/8, Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz Processor, 2 GB RAM, Graphics Card: (GeForce 8800, Radeon HD4000, Intel HD4000 with min. 512 MB VRAM, DirectX Version 9.0, Broadband Internet connection, 40 GB available HD space, DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Test System:

[Alienware Aurora] Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3, Alienware Mainboard, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB), Two Monitors (Samsung S22C300 21.5" / Gateway HD2201 21'' HDMI), 500 GB Solid State Primary Hard Drive, 1000 GB Secondary Hard Drive, Logitech Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury, Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Astro Gaming A30 Headset Black Gaming Headset, Uverse Broadband Internet Access

Related Links:

Sony PlayStation4 Fat Princess Adventures Sony PlayStation 3 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

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