|System: X360, PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Visceral Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 9, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
When I first saw a trailer of Dante's Inferno, I thought what everyone else did: "Oh my! This looks suspiciously similar to God of War." I was worried about EA's new move, yet at the same time I found it interesting for the exact same reason. I've always been a huge fan of Kratos' game series, so I figured a game of the same style would be very fun and entertaining, which, in the end, is all I really care about. I understand some may see this as a questionable move on EA's end and may not want to feel like they're betraying Jaffe and his old team, but Visceral Games has put together a great game that shouldn't just go unnoticed.
Dante's Inferno tells the tale some of you might have learnt about in literature class back in the day. This may not sound appealing when you think about it, but getting a tour of Hell the way Dante Alighieri pictured it in the Divine Comedy is quite a treat. In the story, Dante is a battle weary crusader who comes back home to realize his loving wife Beatrice has passed. Not only that, but she's been taken by the devil and now her soul is being consumed in the depths of Hell. Angry and desperate, Dante himself is dragged into the Abyss, with little choice but to travel his way through Hell trying to find her. Of course, he's not there by accident; he's committed his fair share of sins, including a betrayal that will be tough to forget.
Dante Alighieri imagined nine distinct areas within Hell, each of them devoted to the punishment of different sins. These nine circles are carefully depicted in the game conforming to their themes, including limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and betrayal. The designers have done an amazing job of portraying these different sections in totally different ways, all with great variety and detail. Characters like the revolting gluttons found in the third circle and beyond, architectural elements like the blatantly phallic columns adorning the circle of lust, and coarse and entangled environments such as the circle of violence are all great examples of the rich visual experience the game has to offer. As an added plus, all the action happens at 1080p resolution (on full HD screens) and 60 frames per second, offering a sharp picture with no hiccups and smooth combat all around.
The gameplay relays almost entirely on action. Foes come at you from everywhere, ready to take the best of you. Some are just weak little minions that stand no chance against you, but other enemies carry strong, deadly weapons you should look out for. Others you can defeat and then ride at your leisure. Last but not least, you'll have to deal with many tough, wicked bosses that'll fight till the end their end. Granted, nothing really stands a chance against Dante's combat skills; especially if you chose to play in Classic mode. After trying out both Classic and Zealot difficulty levels but beating the game in Classic, I have to say Zealot is the way to go for the gamer at heart; there's definitely a more balanced amount of challenge to be found there. Of course, if you're just playing for the story and prefer a frustration-free experience, you might as well go for Classic. Or, how about Hellish? Then you'll know what "tough" means!
Either way, the combat mechanics are simple and well thought out. Dante carries a scythe and, as in most hack 'n slash adventures, he can perform a light attack and a stronger attack. There's also a special attack assigned to the B (or circle) button; it's Beatrice's cross he carries, which shoots powerful energy blasts. If lighter attacks are not your thing, you should make sure every soul counts, as collecting them (by killing enemies) will let you unlock other special combo attacks, which is where the fun is at. As you advance, the soul count will go towards the Holy or the Unholy side, depending upon your actions in the game. They have different special moves you can unlock, so you'll have to pick and choose what sounds good to you. Luckily, you can spread the love in between the two (Holy and Unholy) and get the best of each world. As you fill up the meters for either side, you'll reach higher levels within them, which will open up new unlockable abilities.
Some enemies can be absolved of their sins, or you can just condemn them to a life in Hell. This is how your spirit starts leaning towards one side or the other. You'll also have encounters with notorious people throughout the game (e.g. Pontius Pilatus, Electra, and many others). These lost souls depend solely on you; it's in your hands to redeem them of their sins and send them to heaven or to have them rot in Hell. If you choose to exonerate them, you'll have to play a quick mini-game that consists of pressing the right button at the right time while sin bubbles travel through the screen. It's a simple premise and a nice change of pace after some intense fighting.