Review by SolidFantasy

Reviewed: 02/22/10

* Is attacked by Literature fanboys with rolled up Newspapers for not giving this game a 0/10 *

I read The Divine Comedy in High School around 4 years ago (damn I am getting old) and fell in love. Unfortunately , I don't remember much about it other than: Dante is taken on a tour of Hell by a Poet named Virgil(not the characters in Devil May Cry 3!). The version of Hell that was depicted was horrifying, graphic, disturbing, and made the entire Poem hard to read. Dante was in Hell trying to save his lover Beatrice. Now I know the High School I went to wasn't exactly the greatest but I also highly highly doubt that our copy of the Poem was missing the Cantu's where Dante kills Death and becomes Clive Kratos Owen and tears the 9 circles of Hell apart. We can sit here and debate the direction Visceral Games took with this game all day long but that isn't my goal. My goal is to review what Visceral Games gave us: God of War 0.5

Game-Play:: I honestly could just copy and paste any game-play review section for God of War 1 or 2 and it still would make perfect sense in this review. After the games introduction where you kill Death you get his Scythe(your one and only weapon). Square performs light attacks, Triangle performs strong attacks, Circle shoots Holy Crosses, the right Analog stick evades, R2 activates the Quick Time Events for enemies near death, (or just grabs enemies) X jumps, (Dante's double jump is animation-wise literally ripped straight out of God of War) L2 blocks, L1+a face button performs a magic attack, and R1 opens doors and performs other basic actions. You are probably saying "wow this game sounds EXACTLY like God of War, I should love it." I had the same mindset. This game is actually great for the first half but unfortunately goes downhill and never stops.

The combat is fun for a while. Most of the enemies (even on harder difficulties) are just cannon-fodder enemies who just stare at you while you rip them a new one. It's what most people loved about God of War's combat: simple but extremely fun. When most enemies are near death you can press R2 as indicated to take part in one of few things that seperates Dante's Inferno from God of War: the choice to absolve or punish the sinners that inhabit Hell. Whether you choose to absolve or punish you get to do a short Quick Time Event. Absolving an enemy ( freeing them of their sins with this Holy Cross you use throughout the game) results in Holy points while punishing enemies results in Unholy points. Holy points and Unholy points are used to determine what upgrades you can buy(you earn Souls from killing enemies). There are 2 skill trees, one path you learn moves related to being Holy (Cross upgrades and more) and another path where you learn Unholy moves(Scythe upgrades). It sounds like a great unique idea on paper but just fails in the grand scheme of things in the end because it limits your combat. You basically choose what path you are going to take in the game which chooses what button you will be mashing throughout the game. There aren't enough Souls to upgrade both skill tress either. The first time I played this game I leveled up Unholy all the way and by the end of the game my Cross was so under-powered it wasn't even funny. The whole skill tree idea just limits all the combos you can pull off. You can spread out your actions but then both Holy and Unholy will be under-powered which just makes things harder on yourself. Just give me a menu that lets me upgrade whatever I want whenever I want.

The puzzles in this game are also ripped straight from God of War or resemble them. Dante doesn't just use blocks to solve puzzles but he can even charge kick them like Kratos for Gods sake! Some puzzles in this game just feel like one big chore too. I don't remember who on the God of War 2 development team said this but it has always stuck with me: A good puzzle is when a player walks into a room, and can instantly spot what he/she has to do, but still needs to figure out how to do it. A few puzzles in Dante's Inferno just have you puzzled trying to figure out what the object of the puzzle even is due to the horrible camera angles that plague this game. There is a puzzle involving mirrors in this game that leaves you stupified for a while because the camera angle is so horrible that you have no idea what you are even doing. All the puzzles are either annoying or a ripped off dull version of something in God of War. It also seems like Visceral games ran out of ideas ( or ways to ripoff God of War) because the last circle of Hell is just a boss fight while the one before that is a bare-bones Challenge of the Gods/Titans mode. Yes, one circle consists of 10 rooms each with a boring chore of a challenge like stay in the air for 5 seconds or don't use magic. It literally felt like Visceral Games got lazy and decided to throw in anything to make the game longer. By the games half-way point you have already seen every type of enemy the game has to offer so even the combat just becomes a repetitive and boring mess. It doesn't help that you fight enemies in a ridiculous number of waves at a time. The game just loses all steam half-way through and just becomes not fun to play.

Visceral Games already ripped off every combat element in God of War so why not ripoff the Boss Fight formula too!? The last boss in this game is literally a stripped down, dull, boring, annoying version of God of War 2's last boss fight. It also has one of the most misleading Quick Time Events ever. R2 is indicated, I press it and am launched up into the air and the game enters slow-motion like it does for every other Quick Time Event. Except this time, no button appears on-screen and I just get knocked into the ground. I tried a few more times and started to think my game was glitched. On about the fifth try I just decided to mash Square and to my surprise Dante started attacking and the boss became stunned. There are a few more misleading Quick Time Events but one odd thing about every Quick Time Event in this game is that the button prompts are always the same! Aren't Quick Time Events supposed to test reflexes? If so, when I've stunned a giant Minotaur and press R2 to start the Quick Time Event, how is hitting Square, Triangle, Circle in succession every time testing anything? Anyway, riding the Minotaur isn't even fun considering it is beyond slow and inaccurate with hitting enemies. Seriously, good luck hitting anything with his fire breath. If Minotaur combat wasn't bad enough, there are even platforming sections with this beast. He can climb walls (filled with souls of the damned on them) and jump across and above to other walls. He moves too slow and lining up a jump is a pain. The platforming sections for Dante aren't much better either. He can also do the wall climb thing but it does control better. Dante can also climb up/down ropes and run along side walls with ropes. It works horribly and is nigh impossible to line up a good jump. To make matters worse sometimes you have to fight these annoying bats while wall running! The platforming is easily the worst aspect of this game but thankfully there isn't much.

Just like in God of War you get 4 different type of magic attacks throughout the game. In God of War they were actually useful though. I'm having a hard time just remembering what they even were here because I not once found a use for them aside from the Sins of the Father magic which shoots numerous blades out in different directions at enemies. You can also find Relics throughout the game which are just as useless. The only one I used was one that extended the time I had to strike an enemy before my combo disappeared and one that let me not have to tap Circle every time I open a health/mana fountain. Seriously, who's bright idea was that? These fountains even resemble the chests in God of War. In a nutshell Dante's Inferno is a bland, dull version of God of War that even huge God of War fans like myself can't enjoy.

Story: It doesn't take much brainpower to notice that the execution of the overall story is drastically different from the Poem. The premise is still the same though. Dante is taken on a tour of Hell by Virgil to rescue his lover Beatrice. You will explore all 9 circles of Hell( well 7 considering my dog can make a more creative level design then what's in this games last 2 circles). One of the strongest aspects of the Poem was the overall depiction of Hell. For the first 7 circles Dante's Inferno possibly tops the Poems depiction of Hell which is no easy feat. Visceral Games took the story told in The Divine Comedy and used it as inspiration for the story they wanted to tell. The circles of Hell are filled with creative enemies such as unbaptized babies that weild knives. My personal favorite are the enemies in Lust. You may have to read this next part a few times to actually believe it but these demonic women grow A male private part out of their female private part. and shoot projectiles out of it at you. Scratch that, my favorite was Lucifer. He just lets his dong hang out all over the place while you fight him! Seriously though, this game truly is graphic and disgusting. The art direction alone makes this game worth playing because it is truly special. The actual story has cliched twists but isn't bad. For flashback scenes Visceral Games once again ripped off God of War with cartoonish animated scenes. In Dante's Inferno they just look laughably bad though and don't fit at all. If you truly want a special story, just read The Divine Comedy.

Graphics/Sound: Dante's Inferno may run at 60 frames per second but aside from the CG cut-scenes the game just lacks detail and polish everywhere. The combat does feel very smooth though. I'd say it's a fair trade when you remember that aesthetically the game is very twisted, brilliant, and a huge achievement visually in design. The CG scenes look outstanding too. A lot of the sound effects such as souls screaming and more sound well. The voice over work was mostly great and believable too. Lucifer was voiced excellently. Sometimes the characters facial expressions look odd and unnatural though. Overall the game is good here.

Re-Playability: Once you beat this game I highly doubt you will want to play it again unless you want the trophies. There is a lot to collect in the game ( Relics, Beatrice Stones, Souls to absolve, and Virgil conversations to collect) but most of it is pointless and useless. There is also a mode called the Gates of Hell to play. It is 50 waves of enemies to kill but it's very easy and boring.

PROS

Art Direction
First Half of the Game
Graphics
Sound
Voice-overs

CONS

Becomes a Chore To Play
Puzzles
Platforming
Story
Boss Fights
Huge Lack of Creativity
Very Repetitive
Flashback Scenes Look Awful
Quick Time Event Prompts Are Sometimes Hard To See

VERDICT: 5.7/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Dante's Inferno (Divine Edition) (US, 02/09/10)

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