Review

Infernal: Hell's Vengeance Review (Xbox360)

Why, oh why would anyone in their right mind think that converting a decidedly below average two-year old PC action game is a good idea? Apparently someone did though, because here it is, adapted for Xbox 360 and shockingly (or rather not) Infernal - now with added Hellís Vengeance suffix - hasnít aged well at all.

Right from the get-go you realise that this is a title that had long passed its sell-by date back in 2007, with butt ugly, flat textured visuals that are further muddied by an inexplicable smear effect that creates a crappy haze across every inch of the frame. During the cut scenes, the graphics suffer even more as you allow yourself to scrutinise them up-close.


The inauspicious opening nightclub section is a constant stream of gun toting bad guys that funnel down the eye-stinging, day-glo purple corridors. Ugh.
Getting Lennox to stay in cover is a miracle that happens very rarely. Having him press against a wall when you donít want him to on the other hand is a constant irritant.

Youíll notice the horribly stiff animation, the dirty textural detail (or lack thereof) and just an overall lack of any finesse whatsoever. Then, just when you thought it couldnít get any worse, you begin to play the actual game itself. Hellís Vengeance is a third-person shooter with a Resident Evil 4 style viewpoint thatís severely lacking any sort of subtlety or refinement.

The story is a hokey yarn of good versus evil, with your character Ryan Lennox - a sort of lame, wisecracking Ryan Reynolds type - a renegade angel who turns to the devil (aka Lucius Black) in a bid to gain infernal powers to fight against his former outfit, the Etherlite. What could have been an involving narrative is utterly ruined by a truly terrible script that delivers such gems as, ďmittens rockĒ which is indicative of the kind of half-arsed one-liners you can expect.

With his newly acquired abilities, Lennox is a marked man chased by his old employers, which takes you to a variety of generic, clichťd locations, such as a bland refinery level that seemingly goes on forever. Identikit villains crawl out of the woodwork at every turn threatening you with their dumb AI, back-flipping or standing out in the open waiting to accept a hot lead salad.

Itís banal, repetitive stuff that begins to wear very thin, very quickly indeed, especially when there are dozens of far superior shooters out there vying for your attention. The problem is not only with the dodgy mechanics that make Infernal such a thankless chore to play, but also the mission structure, which is boring, hackneyed stuff that consists of finding keycards to open locked doors, using your Infernal vision to discover passcodes (which are always for the terminal in the same room) or working your way through the samey levels trying to find the correct route without the help of a map.

The game fails to reward the player with any kind of intelligent solution to its puzzles, doling out simplistic tasks that are further convoluted by irritatingly awkward controls. Lennox can project a tangible version of himself to gain access to security terminals behind locked gates, but actually pulling off a teleportation is an unnecessarily fiddly process in practice.

Even worse is how the multiple powers Lennox is imbued with are mired by such a shoddy execution, when on the surface they should be immensely fun to wield. And considering Beelzebub himself has granted you with said powers, they fail to register with any real efficacy or impact. You can charge your bullets for a slight increase in power, teleport and lift certain objects using telekinesis, but itíll also cost you precious mana, narrowing your scope for experimentation.

Lennox collects health, mana and ammunition by holding X for three seconds over dead bodies, lifting them off the ground in an admittedly rather natty effect where he draws the lifeforce from their corpse. You have to be quick though, because most bodies disperse into a red mist before you get the chance to leech from them, occasionally leaving you short of ammo and health when you need it most: another of Infernalís annoying idiosyncrasies.

Hellís Vengeance is a poor excuse for a videogame, plagued with numerous issues that all conspire to make this one, big, barely playable mess. The control system really is rubbish, the cover system in particular a stellar example of uselessness, as itís normally pot luck as to whether itíll work when you actually need it. Pushing the left stick into a wall means that youíll often press into cover when you donít want to and Lennoxís quick evade move is activated via a double tap in the direction you want to dive, so also leaping when you didnít mean to is yet another hindrance.


In this cut-scene Lucius Black gives Lennox his Infernal powers, despite much unconvincing, soul searchery from our uncharismatic protagonist.
This soldier will probably soak up a couple of shots to the head before he goes down. Thatís if you can line them up using the skittish aiming before he turns around.

Other inconsistencies to add to the list include certain enemies who are impervious to a rocket square in the face, yet die if you shoot an explosive barrel a few metres away from them. Gun emplacements that fire rounds at a ridiculously fast rate, but fail to register a scratch to your enemies and a complete lack of checkpoints throughout. The game fails to tell you that there are no checkpoints too, leaving you tearing your hair out if you happen to die without remembering to save.

We could go on and on listing the problems with Infernal: Hellís Vengeance, but like the game, we were bored from the very beginning of having to write this. Perhaps deep in the bowels of Hell this will be precisely the kind of game we could end up playing for all eternity, which is quite possibly the strongest argument yet for abstaining from sin. Avoid like swine flu.

Top game moment: Seriously?

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Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Aug 06, 2009
herodotus
Ouch! Sounds like the TPS version of Stormrise. Thanks for the review Richard, scathing as it is, but seriously who would play this after reading your review? I'll wager some will...and then moan and bitch about it. They have been warned.