Reject Review – Constantine: the Videogame

Reject Reviews: They make them bad. We make them funny. This week: Constantine: the Videogame: To hell and back and to hell and back and to hell and sodding back.

At first I looked forward to the cutscenes, because they got me away from the combat. Then I looked forward to the combat, because it got me away from the voice-acting.

And then I stopped looking forward to anything.

Constantine: the Videogame is what the fans call an over-looked gem, the generous call a forgettable mediocrity, and I call proof that you can piss in a urinal and make it dirtier. The film was a desecration of the comics. The game, I am delighted to tell you, is a desecration of the film. It’s like we’ve got desecration squared up in this joint. If you ever looked at the film and thought ‘wow, they could not have shown that IP any less respect’, then this is your lucky fucking day, baby.

Even the back of the box cries out for punchlines and it’s like they’re begging you to answer:

“Featuring the likeness of Keanu Reeves.”

Well, I suppose it saved time having to do any of that tricky facial animation.

“Hell wants him. Heaven won’t take him. Earth needs him.”

GAME required a receipt.

I should specify that the PS2 was where I had the misfortune of making C:tV’s acquaintance. Normally I would give less fucks than a monastery about which console this thing sullied, but the Xbox reviews make mention of such luxuries as ‘auto-aim’. ‘Generous auto-aim’, even. My self-created mini-game involved turning the auto-aim on or off at random intervals, then seeing if I could guess which one it currently was.

HINT: It was always off.

Even when it was on. Maybe I just had a duff copy. Maybe the Xbox players had a different game. Maybe their game pissed rainbows and shat crème brûlée, I don’t know. All I know is that the lack of auto-aim was a perfect arc of rainbow straight into my cheerios.

If you gave me a choice between shooting at things in Constantine and trying to shave my eyebrows with an electric sander, I would change my name to Cockeyed Jim and boot up the power. The game has a fair few combat options, and most of them involve shooting shit; I played by bludgeoning everything I could and electrocuting everything I couldn’t1.

John Constantine

Like Zac Efron as rendered by Aardman.

John Constantine is, not to put too fine a point on it, an unbearable wanker.

His witticisms include such cutting jibes as “I thought I could smell you. This place’ll take anyone, huh?” and “You gotta work on your clientele, Midnite. Garbage like this gives demons a bad name.”, all delivered by a guy who sounds like he’s trying to sell you solar panels2. He is the very essence of a badly-written, adolescent fantasy of a total badass.

He’s in Gears of War, shrugging the shoulderpads of Marcus Fenix. The Max Payne of Max Payne 3. In the godawful fiction of a twenty-something anime fanboy, his name is Nightbane Shadowolf and he wields eight katanas. Different names, different faces, same old hackneyed cynicism; spitting out one-liners like some kind of action hero tourettes.

I can’t work out why this snide, humourless, up-himself berk has any friends at all, let alone why the poor delusional bastards haven’t sat him down for a gentle talk about his personality.

Or a quiet word about how purgatory is not an alternate bus route, because John doesn’t journey through hell – he commutes. Locked door? Travel to hell and walk through the gap where it used to be. Pesky security guards? Fight some demons instead! Bit of a sticky window…

Just like flagging down the 36.

Just like flagging down the 36.

Seriously, if there’s AA for supernatural addictions, his is ‘uncontrollable urge to travel to the netherworld.’ Someone needs to remind the guy that you can’t solve every problem with a jaunt through hell. When your girlfriend dumps you, your first thought should not be “Hey, if I cut through Satan’s flower garden, no-one I know will see me crying.”

I could sit here and rag on John Constantine’s character flaws all day – no, really, Ragnarok could come, go and come again before we scratched the surface – but the game itself is sitting right there, flaunting its bugs and unfinished bits and everything. And those? Those are something special. John is just another world-weary urban fantasy protagonist; ten a penny and you’d still get the raw end of that deal.

The bollocksed-up auto-aim already got a good going over and, tempting though it may be, it doesn’t really need another one. Make sure essential features aren’t fucked on any platforms, boys and girls, and that’s enough on the matter.

At one point the game needed you to use a new spell, but the devs forgot to show the required button sequence and it was the kind of terrible which has started edging back around to brilliant. I could have looked it up, but working it out step by step was honestly the most fun I’d had in hours. No cutscenes, no quips, no cringe-inducing attempts at horror3. Just me, a box of maltesers and some good ol’ trial and error. Bliss.

But the true highlight of the bugs was when , after tenderising everything in the immediate vicinity, I found that the danger music was still playing and the door I needed to go through was locked. I looked around for some beastie I’d missed. I tried the other doors. I shot the uncooperative door4.

Eventually I backtracked and hurled myself down the lift shaft I’d climbed up from, hoping to kill myself and respawn at the last checkpoint. No such luck; John took it like a trooper. His health bar didn’t so much as wobble. As I trudged out of the shattered lift – nursing my equally shattered hopes – I saw something bounding around the corner. Something about knee-high.

The little bastard had fallen through the floor. Oh, how I laughed. Well, my boyfriend laughed5. I made a sort of shrill sound that could be mistaken for a laugh, and beat it to death with the Holy Shotgun.

Towards the end, watching me play became the primary form of entertainment for my boyfriend and his family. Instead of pulling out Kindles, netbooks or, God forbid, talking to each other, they could instead lounge around watching me go into paroxysms of rage.

So I suppose, in a way, that Constantine managed to bring joy and laughter to people after all. Ha. Ha. Ha.

1 The fact that the camera moves like a tortoise through molasses put the nail in the coffin. I just can’t form a happy working relationship with something which takes its job so lackadaisically.
2 Or, when casting spells, like Ashley Williams in front of the Necronomicon.
3I loved the way victims always scrawled their pleas for help in blood. “Should I use the biro in my pocket? Nah, I’ll just dip my hand in Jeffrey”.
4 I didn’t expect this to achieve anything, but it did make me feel better. 5 And then made me two cups of coffee and looked very contrite.

Reject Reviews updates every Thursday, except this one because there was a miscommunication over the schedule. If this wasn’t the first, you would be able to read previous instalments here.

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