previews\ Dec 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Dante's Inferno - 360 - Preview 2

“Through me is the way into the woeful city; through me is the way into eternal woe…” – Canto III: The Gate of Hell from Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Controversy swirls around the game, stemming from the over-the-top violence, the dark and brutal nature of the game, but when one considers that the poem from which the EA game is based is but an indictment of so much that is wrong about the world, there is bound to be controversy.

Religion is depicted as both salvation and damnation, the brutality of mankind is lavished upon fellow man in the name of peace, love’s hope becomes a pit of despair.

Firing up the demo of the game reveals a journey that borrows a lot from other classic hack ‘n slash games. The parallels to God of War are marked, from the gameplay mechanics to the struggle of man caught in the maw of hell while trying for a measure of redemption.

Dante’s Inferno is the tale of man whose crimes during the Crusades have marked him for hell, but he battles death, wins the fight and continues home to his beloved Beatrice. But alas, Beatrice has been murdered and has been taken to hell. Dante, seeking to redeem himself of his crimes and rescue the woman he loves, gives chase.

Dante's Inferno Xbox 360 screenshots

He is assailed by the minions of hell, which are slaughtered fast and furious with the scythe (the first major weapon he gets) of Death cutting a wide swath of indiscriminate destruction. There are minor bosses once the early stages of hell are reached and then, in final area on the short demo, there is a tougher fight (not as tough as fighting Death, though) with a beast carrying a rider. Battle the beast to trigger the sequence that enables an outright attack on the rider - which turns out to be an easy kill. With the rider sliced into pieces, impale the skull of the beast with the scythe and ride the monster around, stomping, pummeling and spewing fire on the hapless minions who try to take it and Dante down. This element offers an interesting diversion to the combat mechanics, to be certain.

Role-playing elements include gaining magic powers. The only one available on the demo is a dashing attack that leaves ice spikes in the wake of the charging Crusader. There is also the standard array of heavy attacks, light attacks, and the ranged cross attack (once you find Beatrice’s crucifix). Dante can grab his foes, and either punish them, which puts him on a path of damnation, or redeem them, which takes him in the other direction, of course.

Good and bad are very much black and white in this game. How much of the controversy was manufactured for the sake of drawing attention to the game is uncertain, but the demo contained little that has not been done before in other games.

The tale is a classic bit of literature, and the voice work captured that nicely. Visually, though, the game is stunning. The environments are incredible and the effects are dazzling.

However, this is not a game for young players. Even in the opening moments of the game there was content of a sexual nature, and – of course – the game is quite brutal.

Dante’s Inferno, for the PS3, 360 and PSP, is slated to release on February 9, 2010.

“All hope abandon, ye who enter in.”

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