Friday, May 28, 2010

Rental Considerations

As is my way I've been watching Let's Plays, and I've decided I may yet rent Dante's Inferno, but I will never buy it.

First things first, it's derivative. But if you've read anything I've written about Gears of War you all know that simply being samey has never put a damper on my opinions. It's got everything I should love: button mashing combat (see also: all those Dynasty Warriors games) and blood, guts, and horror (see also: my porn collection). It's a God of War rip-off, but God of War was awesome so it's OK. The problem seems to be that they took awesome elements from games they liked, but never gave consideration to what made them work. Gears of War 2 had you hijack a brumack in the last level, making you effectively invincible and packing huge guns. For maybe fifteen minutes in the last level. Dante's Inferno does something similar twice in the first hour of gameplay. Devil May Cry gave you guns for ranged attacks, but the guns were horribly underpowered because they were meant more to add flavor to the combat than to be a viable combat option. Dante's Inferno made its ranged attack powerful enough that you could theoretically never use your melee attack. They were so concerned with copying awesome game concepts that they never thought about what made them awesome and just piled them into their game. The result is that something that was once awesome becomes common and base.

The biggest complaint that anyone even remotely literate is going to have is the way the game rapes the original poem. Let's suppose someone made a game story about some generic fantasy kingdom that is taken over by some interdimensional chaos demon, and so some half-demon knight who can shoot lasers from his eyes has to cut his way through monsters to save the land. It's dumb, but a serviceable plot for an action game. Now imagine someone took that story, renamed the fantasy kingdom Denmark, made the half-demon laser-knight William Shakespeare, and called the game "Hamlet." That wouldn't work and would make something that started dumb end up epically stupid. That's what Dante's Inferno did. They took a dumb but serviceable story about a disillusioned Crusader launching a one-man invasion of Hell, and changed the names to make references to The Divine Comedy. Having your main character die, then having him kill Death and stealing his scythe, that's kinda stupid. Making this same character Dante Alighieri is offensively stupid. Also, all of this is taking place some three or four hundred years before Dante Alighieri was born.

So why would I consider renting this drek? Well, like I said, button mashing ultra-violence. But it's also a visual treat (I realize this says something about my taste). It's a visually brilliant game, which may be why a Let's Play might hold up better than an actual rental. I should point out that I was completely unfazed by things that horrified the Let's Play commentators and rendered one speechless. It's weird, but I want to rent this game less to play it and more to see it. And before anyone starts complaining about graphics becoming more important than gameplay, I said I'd rent it. I'm never buying this monstrosity.

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