Most modern shooters have a robust set of multiplayer modes like Halo 3, Gears of War, and Left 4 Dead. Without a multiplayer mode, they better have the story and gameplay to back it up. Games like Bioshock come to mind. Infernal is a port from a 2007 PC shooter about a fallen angel set out to destroy the forces of heaven. It plays as a third person shooter and the character also utilizes demonic powers. With no multiplayer mode to speak of, will this games story and gameplay support it as worthy single player shooter?
This game has an interesting take on the concept of heaven and hell. In an almost corporate manner, Heaven is run by a high tech intelligence agency called Etherlight while Hell, run by the Abyss, includes members gifted with demonic powers. The game starts out with Ryan Lennox, the hero of story, in a bar with a blonde. He is chatting with his former colleague about it how great it is that he can have sex now that he has been fired from Etherlight. A lot of the dialogue in this game is just plain cheesy with lots of religious jokes and puns. After the first scene Ryan is thrust into battle against the forces of good to escape the bar. Once the first battle is over you meet Lucius Black, the agent of the Abyss who gives you demonic powers and more cheesy dialogue. At one point in the script of the first conversation with Lucius the hero makes a comment about it being nice to be mortal because he can wear sweaters and mittens followed by “Mittens Rock”Â. I listen to a lot of metal and rock music, and I have never heard a band rock out about MITTTENS! It is lines like those that actually made me laugh not because they were funny but because they were just so out of place.
Now that Lennox has weapons and demonic powers, he is ready to take on the forces of heaven, which are basically monks with guns and battle armor. Yes, I said monks complete with tonsure haircuts. Throughout most of the game you will be combating monks in their many forms. The story is pretty linear and there are no choices for you as the character to make that will cause any different endings. It is your traditional good vs. evil story and the only difference is that you are evil for the most part.
Inferno consists of five chapters each with about three levels. The games campaign will take an average player about 5-8 hours depending on the level of difficulty and how often you save. It is like watching long B-rated Sci-Fi movie with bad acting. If the Mystery Science Theater guys could sit in front of my game and make comments regarding the story, it would be far more entertaining and I would probably score it higher. There is no multiplayer mode, which if you ask me is big “No No”Â for any shooter game on the 360.
Story Rating: Mediocre
There is nothing really ground breaking in this game when it comes to graphics. Keep in mind it is two years old and as far as I can tell, they didn’t do any improvements before porting it to the 360. Sure the game is pretty, but not really up to par with other games of this genre. One of the fist levels had some okay particle effects as it was snowing. I have seen better snow effects in Fable 2 but Infernal was okay. A later level showed the Aurora Borealis in the sky, but on most levels the sky never moved. In nearly every level you can actually see white dots where the textures meet. This is not a big distraction, but it shows this game could have used some polishing. Some interactive objects also blended with wall textures making them difficult to locate.
One of the biggest issues with this game is the slowdown. Later in the game when you have numerous angry monks chasing you down in the name of all that is holy, the gameplay can slow to where it is hard to tell what is going on. This is quite frustrating as this is a console game and you would think they would have tested this a bit more before releasing it to the 360. Console owners can’t tweak their settings in the game or go out and by more RAM and a better graphics card. So it is up to the developers to produce games that work right out of the box. The last chapter of this game was probably the worst as far as slowdown. I can’t remember a battle on the level that didn’t slow down at least a little bit.
The cut scenes in between gameplay looked pretty bad as well. The character models were not the most pleasant looking at times. It looked more like what you saw on previous generation consoles with the exception of the main character. They actually seemed to put a little more effort into his design. At one point in the game you can see Lennox’s tattoo glow orange and the texture is moving constantly. I thought that was pretty cool. Another thing that looked neat is that whenever he went into a roll he would turn invisible. His soul sucking looks pretty wicked, and made me want to say, “I will swallow your soul”Â.
Graphics Rating: Bad
Well, when dealing with a game about Hell’s Vengeance, I don’t think pop music is going to blend with the game to much. Good thing they used rock/metal tracks crossed with a little choir music. Right from the get go the music has a definite rock theme going. As you shoot your way through the first level some repetitive rock music is blaring along. It works well for your first battle. Then later you come to realize that this is the battle music and it turns on whenever you are in combat. Sometimes it turns on a little late. Say you snipe someone in the head, herr comes the battle anthem. Oh wait, they are already dead and you swallowed their soul. During the load screens you get to hear some intense choir music. Loading happens a lot in this game, so expect to hear this often.
The voice acting in this game is not very believable. It really adds to the cheesy factor. Most of the voice acting is in the cut scenes but occasionally during battles you will hear monks repeating combat statements referring to the hero as an Infernal or Abyss agent. The bosses have their own set of cheesy dialogue as well. The characters to me just didn’t vocalize the drama that was going on in their lives.
This is where Infernal really drops the ball. The game plays as a third person shooter and encourages using objects as cover. Most of the levels are pretty linear as there is only one way to go. There are some points in the levels where you are wandering for a while without combat which is pretty boring. Throughout each level are obstacles/puzzles that you need to overcome using either your environment or your abilities. Sometimes you will have to teleport to a switch to open a door near you, do an invisible roll through laser triggered alarms, or even shoot chains to lower ramps. Some of these solutions are obvious while some leave you wandering a level that has been cleared of enemies just trying to figure out what to do. What can get confusing is that some chain link fences can be climbed and some can’t. This is also true with glass. Some can be shot through to get to the next point and some can’t. One of the oddest things is that Mr. Lennox can die from a ten-foot drop most of time but at other times he is required to do so. When I was younger I even did a few ten-foot drops and I am still kicking. So why is it a fallen angel with demonic powers dies so easily? No wonder why hell always loses.
Speaking of dying, I should mention that this will happen often and there is no auto save or checkpoints in this game. Let’s say you get to Chapter two and never died. Then all of the sudden you die from, say, jumping off a ten-foot ledge. Back to the beginning you go. SAVE OFTEN. This also takes away from the gameplay as I was constantly going to the save menu after any battle just so I wouldn’t have to repeat it. There isn’t even an option for a quick save.
Over the course of the game Ryan Lennox learns some demonic powers to assist him in the battle against Heaven’s Army. These powers use the mana pool. Mana goes up when in the dark places and it goes down when you enter churches. The demonic powers include; invisible rolling, soul sucking, infernal vision, teleporting, telekinesis, and infernal damage. The rolling is pretty cool at first because while rolling you are invisible. This is useful to roll through laser triggered alarms and traps. The problem is the control for the roll is a double tap on your left toggle which is also your movement stick. In combat that means it is pretty easy to do an unintentional roll while moving and shooting. Soul sucking, or collecting as the game calls it, is basically just harvesting health, mana, weapons, & ammo from dead monks. It is pretty cool in concept but its drawback is that every time you use it, you are vulnerable to attack. Most of the time, I just stood there taking damage while healing myself at the same time just to keep my ammo up. If you don’t collect things soon after killing someone, the body and ammo will disappear. Infernal vision allows the player to see health and mana bonuses hidden on the level. It also allows you to see hidden security codes on walls and traps. Teleporting is tricky at first but it is required for advancement through many of the levels. When you teleport you temporarily send a second version of yourself to a separate location, usually to activate a security station. Eventually you learn a double teleport so you can activate two stations at once. Can you guess what the triple teleport does? Yup, you get a gold star! It allows you to activate three switches at once. There is only one security station in the entire game that requires this. Try not to teleport over heights higher than ten feet. Telekinesis can be used for a few things, moving obstacles, moving bodies so you can harvest them, and is necessary on some boss attacks. The last power to mention is infernal damage. This power is learned early in the game. Basically it lights Ryan’s arm on fire and his weapon does more damage than usual. This demonic power is necessary for bosses and some obstacles.
Early in the game Infernal teaches all the gameplay moves. One that it teaches you is how to walk along a narrow ledge and how to shoot and look from that ledge, which is the only ledge in the game that I had to use. You will be glad you learned how to do that. Another thing that bothered me is that I wasn’t able to kill innocent bystanders. Early in the game there was an old guy in this town and I couldn’t kill him. Come on! I am evil! Let me swallow his soul too. The lack of direction at certain points is frustrating and made me want to stop playing. The slow down issues mentioned earlier were also a big reason for a low score in the gameplay department. The game was still fun at points, but it wasn’t enough offset the large gaps of boredom and frustration.
Control / Gameplay Rating: Bad
After beating this game I really doubt I will ever play it again. It has no multiplayer mode and nothing to be gained from further campaign runs other than gamerscore. If you wanted a 1000 gamerscore on this game you still need to play all three difficulties as the achievements for the different difficulties don’t stack. Other than that, I can’t see any reason why anyone would want to play through this more than once.
Replayability Rating: Worthless
This is one thing that is okay about this game. The game gets progressively harder with each passing level. The enemies are the same old monks; they just get better weapons and tactics. Almost all of the bosses were a challenge and it took some strategy just to figure out how to beat them. It is somewhat repetitive fighting monk after monk. Their strategy becomes predictable. This game is priced at $39.99 and would seem like a good deal for a new release, but keep in mind this a port, a port of a 2-year old sub-par shooter. Instead of improving or polishing out any flaws, they decided to release it as is.
Balance Rating: Decent
The mixing of mystical powers with shooting has been done before, and done better. Religion has been thrown into games as well, but this was a pretty new idea as far as story. Heaven and Hell being represented as corporate super spies was pretty interesting and destroying the forces of heaven gave some moderate satisfaction. An omnipotent God not being able to see what was going on in the story because of some planetary alignment didn’t seem very believable. Although playing as the bad guy was quite cool but I feel it could have been better.
The concept is appealing but the game sadly is not. Instead of producing fun attempt at a B-Rated Sci Fi story they produced a game where the dialogue did not seem to fit the characters or the story. Infernal’s story had some potential but it seriously failed to deliver anything other than filler in already bad shooter.
Originality Rating: Above Average
If it wasn’t for the fact I was reviewing this game, I probably would have played a level or two and never touched it again. It was really hard to get into. I beat it in one sitting solely because I thought if I stopped I wouldn’t come back to it. Without unlockables or a multiplayer mode ,it is really hard to see this as a game that you would come back to again and again. In fact when I completed the story, I was glad to be done with it.
If you must play every shooter then this is worth a rent, otherwise avoid it. With so many other great shooters either being platinum hits like or on the used market it is hard to justify paying $39.99 for this game. Or, you could save your money for this fall. With other potentially good shooters coming out like Halo 3: ODST, Left 4 Dead 2, & Bioshock 2, Die Hard Game Fan will surely have some solid recommendations to buy rather than this.
Appeal Factor Rating: Bad
I never heard of this game before reviewing it, and even after looking back at its PC reviews I tried to be optimistic. The developer could have done themselves a big favor by spending the last couple years improving the gameplay and graphics flaws and this game could have been decent despite the cheesy dialogue. I like cheesy sometimes.
Miscellaneous Rating: Poor
Control / Gameplay: Bad
Originality: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Bad
FINAL SCORE: POOR GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance is a port of a poor PC 3rd person shooter game. There have been little to no improvements made since its time on the PC. Although this game has a little bit of originality in the concept of playing a fallen angel, it fails to deliver on gameplay. With the gameplay slowdowns and lack of auto save Infernal really takes away from a good experience. Even with the $40 price, if you must play this game I recommend it as a rental only.