Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Down Down Down the Ring of Fire

Game: Dante’s Inferno

System: Xbox 360 & PS3

Release: January 2010

Dante’s Inferno is a God of War clone and proud of it. God of War is an action adventure hack/slash. Kratos is the main character, and his travels take us through all the major sites of Greek mythology. The combat helped to define a genre by including quick time events during cinematics and a solid combo system. Besides his main weapon Kratos uses magic, and he would have to solve the occasional puzzle. Replace Kratos with Dante, and Greek myth with Christian myth and you have Dante’s Inferno.

Dante’s Inferno (DI) is loosely based on the historic poem of the same name, and follows Dante’s decent into hell to save his dearest Beatrice. Unlike the poem Dante is an Italian crusader returning from the third crusades lead by Richard the Lionheart. Richard is the king that Robin Hood loves, but that is an entirely different story. Dante was a bad boy during his tour in the holy land. To show off his sins he made a tapestry and stitched the fabric to his chest. Unfortunately his wife and father wouldn’t be able to see his new found body art. They were murdered in their home, and the killer finished the job by stabbing Dante in the back.

Anyone who has played video games knows death is a joke, and DI takes that concept to heart. Apparently Dante is a super bad ass. He steals the infamous Scythe and kills Death. Not sure how a universe is suppose to go on without death, but who am I to judge? Armed with an unholy weapon Dante begins his decent into hell to save Beatrice who apparently made a deal with the devil. She bet her soul that Dante would be a good Christian during the Crusade—hahaha stupid girl. Nine circles of hell, and some obvious sequel foreshadowing, Dante absolves his sins to save his love.

Combat in DI is very similar to God of War. Dante wields the scythe mentioned above and a holy cross from his beloved Beatrice. The cross is a projectile attack, and the scythe can perform light, heavy, and throw moves. Magic is discovered in the game world—just like in GoW—or can be learned by gaining experience to purchase upgrades. Four spells can be equipped at one time, and are crucial to surviving the more difficult encounters. Dante will also find relics that enhance a wide variety of abilities. There are so many good relics that players can really customize a play through by focusing more on magic, defensive, or offensive combat.

DI has another unique feature that is not found in God of War. The upgrade system is divided into two groups unholy and holy. To level up Dante can either Punish or Absolve enemies and famous historical figures found in hell. I did enjoy absolving Atilla the Hun and damming the Queen of Troy. Unfortunately there is little incentive to punish anyone after unlocking all the unholy moves. You get more experience from absolving via a minigame, and these xp hubs do not affect the main story.
The last few things worth mentioning about DI are the art design and frame rate. The entire game runs at an average of 60fps. That is fantastic for this genre and creates smooth combat experiences. The art design is also well done. The environments are detailed and eye catching. You will never forget that you are in hell, yet each level has a distinct theme. The gluttony level has Dante traveling through demonic digestive system with vicious worms and hungry fat asses that try to eat you. The greed area has liquid hot gold to torture the damned. Visually the average enemies are nothing too special, but the numerous bosses are a hoot. The boss in the Circle of Lust has tongues for nipples, and Lucifer has cock and balls. Oh and encase you cared Satan’s package has physics.

The main campaign will take about eight hours. After completing the game a new mode called the Gates of Hell is unlocked. This is a series of challenges that were previewed in the games demo. For people who do not own a PS3, and will never own God of War III, Dante’s Inferno may be a good buy. There is plenty of fun to be had, and the art design is very appealing. I am also a history major and I thought the game captured the brutality of the crusades well. For Xbox 360 owners I’d recommend buying the game but don’t pay full price. PS3 peeps should just wait for God of War III, which is coming out in March. Snerts Snazzy Score grants Dante’s Inferno a 4 out of 5.

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