So I’m sitting down to continue my replay of Mass Effect, and I get that sudden, unexplainable urge to not. I just cannot summon the energy to hit the “Play Game” button. But I’m already on the couch, and the controller is in my hands. I have to do something.
After a half-hour period of staring lackadaisically into the screen, thinking deep thoughts, I rouse myself from my stupor and flip to the demos section of the Xbox Game Marketplace. I browse about a bit, and finally settle on Dante’s Inferno. Why? Probably because as one of the 5 gamers who have actually read the piece the game is based on (thank you, Amazon Kindle), I had a burning curiosity as to how anyone could turn a daunting piece of medieval (it took me 5 tries to spell that word, even with spell check. Welcome to the English Language.) literature into an action-adventure game. Plus, the size of the demo allowed me to practiced my dazed expression for a couple more minutes.
Fairly soon though, the download is finished, and I boot up the game. The opening shot of the game shows a man, sitting at a campfire, gritting his teeth in pain as he sews a cloth cross into his chest.
The game proceeds to show me an extremely badass animated sequence, involving the capture and slaughter of hundreds of innocents by Europeans during the Third Crusade, in an attempt to piss of Saladin, or something.
I am then dropped into the shoes of Dante, a crusader with a pointy stick who seems to hate swarthy people, based on the number of them he proceeds to kill. And in true action-adventure form, somehow scares gravity away when he attacks in the air.
The combat at this point is fairly standard, mostly a button mash fiesta hearkening back to my days in front of a Sega Genesis, trying to figure out how I got the Green Ranger to fire his gun. There are two kinds of attack, standard and hard, or some other usual naming convention reading as “Kill it” and “Kill it WITH FIRE”. As far as I can tell, there is no real combo system in this game, your options are hit a button once, or hit the button as fast as you can humanly muster. No in-betweens or difficulty.
I am rushed by nearly 50 vanilla Arabs, and I destroy them all with no effort. So pretty much Ninety-Nine Nights with all the fun castrated off.
But then some dude stabs be in the back, and I think, “Wow. That was one short demo, for one lame game.”
But then everything got AWESOME.
A giant skeletal dude (who, based on his attire, appears to be a Pirates of the Caribbean enthusiast) claiming to be Death appears, and tells Dante that he’s been a bad boy, and is going to hell. Dante refuses to go. I had no idea it was that easy to not die. He must have attended the Hob Gadling School for Being Immortal (I’m sorry, is my Sandman fanaticism showing?).
Apparently, it is not that easy, so Dante beats the crap out of, then kills, Death. Logic weeps. Then Dante picks up Deaths uber-badass scythe, made of bone, that can also turn into a spear.
Apparently, the further the game gets from the original story, the more absolutely fantastic it gets.
It is at this point that the chest-sewing incident occurs, and Dante, now for some reason shirtless, rides home to Italy to be reunited with his true love. Except that when he shows up, her dad is dead, and she is also dead, and I assume (based on the torn clothing) raped. And this is when things get really interesting.
Now, maybe I’m out of date and not keeping up with all the latest games, but when did the M rating transition from side-boobs to full boobs, with all their nipple-y goodness? When was the party, and why was I not invited? I had heard that Dante’s Inferno had demon boobage, but I assumed they would be oddly colored, creepy, nipple-less flesh bags that more represent the idea or theme of boobs, rather then (pardon the pun) fully fleshed funbags.
Based on the age old equation, Sex x Violence + The Urfenguptur Constant = Buckets of Cash, Dante’s Inferno can expect to be very successful. Except that it comes out on the same day as Bioshock 2. That was just poor planning.
Anyway, the bare-chested wonder comes to life, says some cryptic crap about how He wants her or has her, or something to that effect (you have to remember, there were BOOBS onscreen. At that point, looking beats listening), she gets pulled away by some evil force. Then skeletons rise out of the conveniently placed graveyard you are in, and you proceed to beat the death out of them.
Dante hikes it over to a church, where you again find Miss Nipples, this time totally bare on an altar. No, they didn’t go full frontal, and you can trust me, I made a thorough investigation. She says more stuff I was too busy to hear, then I get some backstory in the form of another animated flashback. From this, I learned three things. 1) Dante tapped that, because she trusted him to remain faithful to her, 2) Church leaders who promise absolution have far too many pointy teeth, and appear very evil, and 3)Dante is a cheating bastard, and Naked McNudeypants is very pissed.
The chick disappears again, but now, I have the ability to use her cross to kill demons by projecting crosses at them, Kung-Fu Hustle style. Which is good, because at that very moment, the church half collapses, revealing that a pit to hell has opened up around it, and demons start attacking. I also gain the option to either punish or absolve demons and souls. Punishing them means ripping them to shreds, and absolving involves putting the cross very close to their face, and screaming “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!” until they poof into a happy white soul and float away. Punishing and absolving get you Unholy and Holy points, each of which allow you to level up skills and spells in separate skill trees.
As Dante descends into the pit (or should I say the Pit?), he encounters a plethora of enemies to use his new-found abilities on. I hack and slash my way through the hordes, and eventually encounter a minotaur-looking guy that wants to use my skin as a lovely kilt. Or at least, that’s what I got out of his grunts and roars. I whup him good, and am approached by the ghost of the poet Virgil.
At last, something that actually happened in the centuries-old story!
After talking to him about how the girlfriend (who I now remember to be named Beatrice) sent him to guide Dante, he is attacked by an enormous ham-fisted giant, ridden by one of the minotaurs like Marcus Fenix riding a Brumak. Using one of those “hit the buttons as shown on screen at the right time” minigames that I cannot quite remember the name of right now, you climb up the giant, kill the rider, then jam your scythe into the giants skull. Which somehow lets you control him.
It’s cool enough that I’ll just let this one slide.
You then use the giant to squish many more minotaurs, then break open the door to hell, ending the demo.
On a scale of “One” to “Hell Yeah”, I give this demo a “Badass”.