Review by scyphi

"Quick and Dirty"

For anyone who is not familiar with Dante's Inferno, it is a game based off the classic piece of literature of the same name. *Loosely* based. There are many elements taken directly from the epic poem, but to say the game is true to the source material is like saying the Gummi Bears cartoon was exactly like the snack.

Dante's Inferno is an enjoyable game (keep that in mind as I rip it to shreds below). It's also a mature rated game that isn't afraid to flash some boobage at you within moments of starting the game, and continuing to show breasts throughout the game as if it were sponsored by Girls Gone Wild. Don't worry! There's something in it for the man-lovers as well. The main character is a buff, (mostly) shirtless dude, and if you hold out to the end of the game you get to see his bare ass and his wang, without any warning whatsoever. This game is full of unpleasant, unexpected surprises, especially if you're playing it during a family get-together. Immature laughing is inevitable while you're in Lust because of all the not-so-subtle male and female genital shaped environmental elements. Oddly enough, that stops right after a gigantic Cleopatra arrives on an even more gigantic phallic tower, and you realize her exposed nipples are actually mouths that spit out babies with knives for hands. Oh god, I think I need therapy…

Anyway, let's see how it breaks down.

Inferno is one of the latest games in the platformer genre, meaning you can look forward to endless amounts of running, jumping, pushing blocks, pulling levers, climbing/swinging on/shimmying across ropes, and dealing with inexplicably floating squares of land that move back and forth over bottomless pits or pools of undesirable liquid that you will absolutely fall into a billion times because your depth perception is off. It's also modeled after God of War, which means you'll be ruining your controller because the game requires you to mash buttons to accomplish the most mundane of tasks. For example: opening 5,000 of the 5,001 doors in the game. That, along with a few instances where you have to jump over larger-than-usual bumps in the floor just to get through a hallway, leads me to think that either the developers were trying to extend the gameplay with pointless crap, or they're just messing with me.

Quicktime events are used for more than just combat and opening doors. Environmental dangers can prompt a quicktime event when you're least expecting it, so look forward to dying as soon as you notice the game wants you to press a button. There is an elevator that killed me and I had no idea why, so the second time I went in knowing I was looking for something. I died again, because I saw what I was supposed to do but I was in the wrong place. Third time I got through no problem. This will be you. Over and over again.

The GoW platform formula does get a bit tedious. There's the same handful of enemies whose clones you fight thousands of times, and they all die in 3-4 different ways (mash your buttons to hack them to death with your scythe, play a quicktime event and mash your buttons to explode them with your cross, or play a quicktime event and mash your buttons to rip them apart). But the more you kill, the more souls you get, the more upgrades you can buy (you will probably not max out all the upgrades on your first playthrough). After a while you have a pretty varied repertoire of special moves and combos that work well for different situations, as well as some spells that you can easily live without. Ignoring the spells, once you have a lot of different attacks to use, killing the endless hordes of the damned becomes less tedious as killing them takes a backseat to looking awesome *while* you're killing them. There's a counter to keep track of your combos, if that matters to you. There's even an achievement for getting a combo of 666.

While I'm on the subject of combat, I'd like to address the difficulty settings. They can be changed at any time through the pause menu, and that's handy. I forget the spiffy names the developers gave them, but essentially it's Easy, Normal, Hard, and after you beat the game once you unlock We Didn't Even Test If This Was Playable mode. I started out on Normal mode and died a lot. I got tired of that, so I switched to Easy, which the in-game description makes it sound like you'll be able to fart and level half of Hell. Actually, after that I don't think I ever died in combat again. Just from bad jumps. It was ridiculously easy, but I enjoy dominating the enemy so I never thought about turning the difficulty back up. Once I beat the game, I started over with all my upgrades and put it on Normal. It feels just as easy now, so I'm thinking of going to Hard. I'm not sure if that's the difference the upgrades make or the learning curve in action.

Once you've killed everything, the area you're playing in has run out of space and the developers need you to jump, climb, swing, or shimmy across a gap to another area where you can experience deja vu. These “Go from Point A to Point B” sections can be boring when there aren't hazards to keep you focused. A standard shortcoming of the genre. Inferno overcomes this to an extent with their immersive environment. As you shimmy across a rope, the makers knew you didn't have anything better to do besides hold that button down, so the camera pans out and you get to see a pretty awesome shot of Hell. There's a part where you have to walk across a really long bridge while you're riding a really slow beast. Just when you realize it's going to take you three generations to make it, a voice over kicks in and the camera zooms out and rises about a mile into the air. Now you're a tiny speck on the screen, but you still have control. The bridge is straight, just hold the stick forward and ogle the impressive landscape. It's pretty much awesome.

That covers the basic action in the game, leaving the boss fights. The bosses are all varied and interesting. Thankfully, this isn't a game that makes you redo boss fights towards the end, so EA had a healthy supply of creativity. In GoW style, you avoid attacks, shank the bastard when you can, then hit a quicktime event to finish them off. The most interesting boss fight is the one where you lose if you indulge in a make out session.

The easiest boss fight is King Minos. When he's shooting tentacles out of the ground, run in a big circle. When he's slamming his fist down, stand in the spot closest to the camera and he can't reach you. Jump when he sweeps his arm across the ground. The rest is self-explainatory.

Finally, the story. Some people talk about this first, but the story is second to the action. The cutscenes pop up more or less to flash some boobs and remind you of your motivation. No, not boobs, you're trying to save Beatrice. I'm not saying the story is weak; in fact, it's quite interesting on its own. As you progress, you find out that Dante is not a nice person and is actually a bit of a jerk. Then you go back to killing everything that moves. Saying anything more could spoil it for you, so I'll leave it at that. Story = Good.

After you beat the game (which took me 6-8 hours without finding all the secrets), you unlock the harder difficulty, an alternate costume wherein Dante actually knows how to fully dress himself, and the ability to go through the game again with all your upgrades. Normally, when I beat a game I put it on a shelf and never look back. With Inferno, I started over as soon as the credits finished rolling. There were things I missed (relics, Judas' 30 pieces of silver, the stones that let me absolve the damned without playing a dumb mini game) and for some reason I really wanted to get all the upgrades. I'm not a completionist who has to get 100% of everything in a game, so this is an achievement of game design for me. The gameplay is addicting. Even though the second time around nothing will be any different, I just enjoy kicking ass as Dante.

An online multiplayer mode exists, but for some reason that's not going to be available until April. EA has a bad habit of putting things in the game that remind you of portions of the game you didn't get when you bought it. Dragon Age Origins is another example, where there's a guy in your camp that gives you a quest that requires you to pay for and download additional content. Dammit, EA. If it's not in the game I paid for, don't put it in. I'll probably have forgotten this game exists by April, so you can keep your incomplete multiplayer mode.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/08/10

Game Release: Dante's Inferno (US, 02/09/10)


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