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Dante's Inferno

Fun and gory action that stumbles in Kratos' footsteps

There's no denying it - Dante's Inferno is a damn near carbon copy of God of War. It's
shameless about it too. From obvious things, such as humongous boss fights, to minor stuff like the way Dante scurries along walls in exactly the same way as Kratos, EA's hack-and-slasher is brazen in its plagiaristic ways. As such, a rip-off like this deserves a scalding hot jug of scorn poured over it, right? Well, if it wasn't any good it would, but thankfully Dante's Inferno is bloody good fun.

Visceral Games - the team behind ace sci-fi shooter Dead Space - have done an outstanding job of mimicking the feel of God Of War to the point where the control scheme from the retuned God Of War Collection (PSM3 #123 85%) transfers seamlessly to Dante's Inferno. This is no mean feat. Loads of games have tried to copy the GOW formula over the years, but none have even come close until now. Yet aside from the Kratos comparisons, Dante manages to stand on his own two feet on PS3.

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DIVINE INSPIRATION
For those who don't know, Dante's Inferno is based loosely on a 14th century poem called The Divine Comedy. But whereas in the poem, Dante is depicted as an idiot who's lost in the woods, EA's take is that he's a bad-ass crusader who's been tricked into slaughtering thousands of innocent people and cheating on his missus with a slave girl. Who hasn't though, eh? What follows is Dante's chase for his beloved Beatrice through the nine circles of Hell as he tries to rescue her from Mr Evil himself, Lucifer. This involves killing - and lots of it.

While it's not quite on the same stylish level as Bayonetta (PSM3 #122 90%) the action in Dante's Inferno is nothing short of exciting. If you're not notching up violent 100+ combos with his scythe (you wrestle it from the Grim Reaper pretty early on), then you're knocking winged beasts from the air with the Blessed attack from Beatrice's cross (circle). You'll also pick up some spells along the way.

The developers have brought over the upgrade system from Dead Space, too. Thankfully, you won't have to fi nd/buy nodes to improve your scythe or cross skills.

Instead, you collect souls much as you do in Devil May Cry, then spend them on new combos, extending your magic/health gauge or learning some sacred moves (read: critical hit fi nishers).

Taking a leaf out of inFamous' book, you can also choose whether Dante will be nasty or nice. This has zero impact on the story - which may have spiced up the drab plot somewhat - but it does mean that a) you can choose whether to make your scythe (evil) or your cross (good) more powerful and b)when you find a tortured soul you can either absolve their sins or poke the sharp end of your scythe through their head. These tortured souls are historical figures such as Boudica, who beg Dante to end their suffering - be it via the violent method or the holy one. To be honest, absolving victims' sins is a pain in the arse because you have to go through the same monotonous
mini-game every time. Sure, you can earn more souls to spend on moves this way, but cutting into the action for 30 seconds at a time with the same old routine is boring. Hence why most of the beggars we come across get the short shrift and the pointy scythe.

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DEADLY DULL
But it's not just absolving that becomes tired in Dante's Inferno. While the game starts at breakneck speed, with you fi ghting Death and a giant woman who spits babies with blades for arms from her teats (honestly), the later stages dwindle into predictability. There's a climby bit, then a swingy bit, a fi ghty bit, and then some puzzly bits before the boss bit, and repeat to fade. Worse still is the fact that the last circle - though we won't ruin it for you here - is a selection of time trials la GoW's Challenge of the Gods mode. It's like the developers just gave up before the fi nish line. The game's also relentlessly bleak. From murdering babies to hearing souls crying or cursing, don't expect rainbows here.

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