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Dante's Inferno PS3 and 360 doesn't pulling punches - its pulls you in by offering hardcore content delivered through simplistic combat and responsive movements. The gore, violence and nudity may disturb some, and it is true that the excessively dark visuals obscured some detail, but this doesn't overshadow the amazing technical work here that enables the game to run at an unbroken 60 frames per second.
A lot of people have compared Dante's Inferno to God of War. To be honest, they're not far off the mark. There are a lot of aspects that are similar to its obvious inspiration but it also ventures into new territory that helps distinguish itself from Kratos' epic adventures.
My initial problem was with the story, and I think that most people who aren't intimate with The Divine Comedy might get a bit lost. Bizarrely though I found my previous experience with Assassin's Creed helkped me get a feel of the Crusader time-line and general setting. But overall the game does a poor job of explaining its world and fiction, and really needs to to more context to its setting.
The game starts to become more enjoyable with a tale of love and redemption.
Shortly after the opening Dante is stabbed in the back as the Grim Reaper himself comes for Dante's soul. After defeating Death himself, Dante returns home to find the impaled body of his beloved, Beatrix, as her soul is dragged down to hell by Lucifer. And here the game starts to become more enjoyable with a tale of love and redemption - as well as presenting some truly horrific creatures in stunning detail - and presenting a few changes to the hack and slash genre.
One of these is Dante's secondary attack weapon; sure he may not have any other actual weapon than Death's Scythe but his Holy Cross acts like a shotgun, sending out crosses across the level, heavily damaging enemies all around. Secondly is the way in which you make Dante more powerful. Unlike in God of War where you power up only weapons or magic, Dante's offers a bit more control over what you spend your souls on.
To level up your Holy Cross attacks and the Unholy Scythe you need to find crying, glowing sprites which turn out to be historical figures. Once you collect these sprites you can either Punish or Absolve them to acquire a different amount of souls - the in-game currency.
The textures and lighting are often too dark and don't allow you to see the levels clearly.
Punishing them will kill them and damn their soul for eternity whereas Absolving them will activate a mini-game which allows you to gain extra bonus souls, and free their soul to enter Paradiso. Magic upgrades, new weapon attacks, Mana or Health upgrades can all be purchased alongside levelling up your main attacks. The mini-game can be annoying since it slows down the gameplay so you can match buttons to the falling sins. If you die after Absolving them the game doesn't autosave or create a check point, which I found out on a number of occasions leading to irritating re-runs of the same section.
Unlike every other game that has quick-time events this game gives you a slight warning, telling you in advance when these events are about to take place, with the screen slightly de-saturating. However, I found the game failing to give me any warning about death traps which lead to instant death. One such instance took place on an elevator that's falling and suddenly I died, leaving me there with a "wait, I was supposed to do something there?" look on my face. Not fun.
Apparently, I was meant to jump off as it passed an open corridor, but the game left me no indication of this thanks to it being so dark. If nothing else it highlighted one of the game's worst flaws - its graphics.
It borrows heavily in the technical department from God of War and I ultimately felt as if the developers were ticking off a list of pre-requisites rather than being truly creative.
The textures and lighting are often too dark and don't allow you to see the levels clearly. I'm sure hell would be a hard place to explain the presence of sunlight, but it would have helped to make various gameplay-critical moments a bit more obvious. The developers of the game basically admit this shortcoming by have a bright yellow object illuminate a wall to show that it's climbable. Without this golden sunlight intervention you would never have known what to do.
Despite this issue, everything is beautifully presented with action breezing along at a smooth 60 frames per second (fps) with highly detailed characters and disturbing monsters. Brilliant animation for all characters shines through as does great facial animation, although shadows upon faces can look a little messy at times. Some levels even have huge vistas, or towering enemies which makes you wonder how they managed to keep that impressive frame-rate going. It never seemed to dip in quality and that's despite all kinds of visual effects, animation, detailed characters, sound effects, lighting and post processing going on.
Though the technical side of Dante's Inferno varies I found my journey through hell enjoyable. My only concern is it plays it too safe and misses the opportunity to do something truly epic or unique. It borrows heavily in the technical department from God of War and I ultimately felt as if the developers were ticking off a list of pre-requisites rather than being truly creative. In this aspect it was a disappointment but the technical prowess displayed by its stellar frame-rate leaves me eager to see what's next for the series.
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