Infernal: Hell's Vengeance Review

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Infernal: Hell's Vengeance Publisher: Playlogic
Developer: Metropolis

Platform: PC and Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Fallen angel Ryan Lennox has been fired from the heavenly agency EtherLight, only to be recruited by hell's forces as a pawn in a deadly battle between supernatural agencies. Lennox is a gunman, so whichever side he fights for, gunplay simply plays to his strengths. But will his path of destruction benefit humanity?

Kyle Ackerman

It takes a lot of guts to take a poorly-received PC game from two years ago and re-release it on the Xbox 360, especially without fixing the game's problems and burdening it with a console control system. Playlogic is gutsy. Infernal: Hell's Vengeance hasn't aged well, and it certainly hasn't been improved.

An Engine-us Game

From the outset, Infernal feels like an Eastern European developer's attempt to create the game to end all games. The stakes are high: corporate versions of heaven and hell are locked in battle, with the player (as Ryan Lennox, a fallen angel) stuck square in the middle. Levels are filled with all those marketing bullet points that the backs of boxes crave – there are fancy glow effects, destructible wine glasses, super-powers galore and tons of third-person shooting action. There's a dynamic cover system, sundry sultry women, and Satan himself talks you through missions. It all comes close to working. If the game cut two-thirds of its fancy features and made the remaining third work well, it could be a really entertaining game. Instead, the game waves its potential right under your nose and then buries that potential somewhere in a featureless corridor guarded by the faceless forces of heaven.

Metropolis is a Polish developer, and some of the game's funniest moments come from poor localization. The writing is as wooden as the animations in the game's cut scenes, and the main character often slips from a surly American accent into an eastern European cadence that is entirely at odds with his attempts at idiomatic cultural speech. The subtitles are sometimes mistranslated, phrases often seem like they were translated using a dictionary and no knowledge of native English, and words are mispronounced. For example, I was told early on to avoid "heavenly infrastructure facilities," and shortly after, Satan pronounced the word "ingenious" as "engine-us." None of these flaws are fatal, but they are so common that the moments intended to be Infernal's tensest are often its funniest.

Must... Try to... Shoot... Guard...

A far more real problem is the game's control system. The club that hosts the opening scenes is chic, but the flashy decor can't mask the fact that Infernal's controls felt like trying to thread a needle while wrestling a bear. The game solves the control problem by making most of the game so easy to complete it doesn't matter if you run up next to a guard and shoot past his ear six times before finally shooting him in the ankle. But the occasional short drop (such as from the top of a box) can be fatal, and boss battles are such a struggle against the controls that they became interminably frustrating.

Frankly, the worst part of Infernal was the second boss battle. The first boss battle involved shooting a few stationary objects before powering up an infernal shot and quickly executing a monk. The second involved eliminating all of a boss' henchmen before powering up an infernal shot to hit the boss, and then repeating that process far too many times. Given the crappy console controls, I had trouble eliminating the henchmen before they respawned, and they respawned fast. If I hadn't been reviewing the game, I would have slammed down the controller at this point and shattered the game disc. Instead, I tried time after time, moving from irritated to annoyed to enraged at the poor game design. It didn't help that the game's flawed cover system, instead of allowing me to hide while shooting, generally meant that if I went anywhere near a crate or column I became a sitting duck, unable to move or shoot.

I Get to Play the Whole First Mission Again?

This is aggravated further by the game's save system. Infernal doesn't auto-save. I discovered this when I died in the second boss fight. Then I had the distinct pleasure of playing through everything in the game up to that point... again. I appreciate that Infernal allows me to save anywhere – that's great – but there also needs to be an autosave feature so that I don't have to distance myself from the immersion of play to repeatedly remember to save my progress lest I fall off a crate to my death. And if that's not entertaining enough, the loading screens are generously described as interminable.

The best thing about Infernal is its menu screen. Sadly, there's no other portion of the game that comes close to passable enough to recommend it. Infernal could have been fun, if the developers had picked just a few of the game's features and polished and tested them until they worked flawlessly rather than burdening the game with tons of potential that shouldn't have seen the light of day.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 30, 2009 10:02 PM.

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