Dante's Inferno Preview (PS3)

Imagine what it must be like to take a trip through hell, all that fire, torture and damnation... If the stories you hear are true one can't really say that the prospect sounds appealing, but if Dante can do it and still live to write a poem about it, then I'm sure we can too. Fresh from an outing to a rather unique establishment in the heart of London, Strategy Informer managed to gain some hands on time with one of EA and Visceral's newest titles, Dante's Inferno.

At a glance, it's a run of the mill action adventure game in the same ilk as God of War, Ninja Gaiden, Spartan: Total Warrior or any of the other classics. This is a genre where change doesn't come easily, so there's always a danger that games like this will be compared to the current alpha-title. Furthermore, despite being based on a medieval poem, many of the themes and visuals give it a more mythical overtone, making it even more similar to God of War. Dante's Inferno has also become notorious for its rather unique marketing, with the thinkers over at EA really taking the core concepts of this poem and taking it to the nth degree. It's got people talking, certainly, and from a marketing point of view that's all you need. But despite the comparisons, despite the marketing and the hype, Dante's Inferno is still just a game, and like all games, it needs testing.

The confines of the genre made it unlikely that there would be anything 'stunning' in terms of pure gameplay, and Dante is rather predictable in its set-up. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as one can take comfort in the familiar but those looking for something new or interesting will be disappointed. That aside, this seems to be a well crafted game. The main focus is on the two different weapon styles. There's the Scythe, which you steal from Death right at the beginning of the game, and the Holy Cross, which you get a bit later. Each weapon is different and serves different functions, and the player can choose to either specialise in one or get a mixture of the two. The combos you can utilise reflect this, and watch any preview footage and you'll see Dante combining the scythe and cross into devastating attacks.

Everyone loves a bit of creative destruction in their gameplay, and there have been some classic visuals in the genre. In this game however, there's always a danger that the visuals could over shadow the gameplay, something that Justin Lambros hoped they had balanced when speaking during our interview. Still, when the game's opening cinematic shows the main character sewing a red cross to his bare chest, you just know what's to follow is going to be 'interesting' to say the least. Indeed, this grisly opener pretty much sets the tone for the entire game, with each level's 'theme' explored in the most grotesque manner that was considered 'safe' for release. As such, this game is probably not for the squeamish.

We weren't able to preview all 9 levels of hell, naturally, but what we did see clearly shows that Visceral have tried to create a vibrant and thought provoking world. Whether it will actually engage its audience, simply prove to be a bit of eye-candy, or even put some people off remains to be seen. A game like this is going come down to a matter of pure taste. On the one hand, there are far better games in genre around, especially with God of War III on the horizon, on the other, those who are ok with the type of content on offer should find the game at least a bit entertaining. It is a digital version of marmite.

On a technical level, the game seems to be coming along just fine. Smooth fast paced combat that really shines in its 60 fps environment, no glitches, smooth graphics... at least they can't be accused of making a shoddy product. But regardless of what we think, EA have been going all out with this game in terms of marketing and promotion.

Those who keep an eye on the news will no doubt have heard about the publisher's controversial marketing techniques, which are really nothing more than publicity stunts, but they've done their job - tasteless or no. There's also going to be a simultaneous DVD release in the style of Halo Legends or Animatrix, with nine different anime directors each tackling one of the circles of hell. Yes, EA certainly want to keep this game in the forefront of people's minds, the question is, will it work? Or will it just cheapen the final experience? Only time will tell.

This game will be coming out on Xbox 360, PS3 and the Playstation Portable in early February 2010. A demo is being released today over the Playstation Network and December 24th over Xbox Live, just in time to add some holy righteousness to your holidays. Don't forget to check out our interview with Senior Producer Justin Lambros.

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By sharpe_ (SI Veteran Newbie) on Jun 07, 2009
Probably the most original thing at E3 this year.
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Dec 19, 2009
I'll get the demo then.
By Hunter_Raj (SI Member) on Jan 04, 2010
We are waiting for this game...............