Infernal: Hell's Vengeance
Developer: Metropolis Software House
Publisher: Playlogic
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1
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The opening scene of Infernal: Hell's Vengeance has the protagonist, Ryan Lennox, enjoying a Martini with his former colleague and lamenting over being fired from slightly saintly security company Etherlight, only to find himself betrayed and set upon by burly blokes. He then decides to get revenge by joining the 'baddies' (The Abyss) and sets out to waste more priests than the Spanish Inquisition. Original Infernal 'aint, but is it a tongue-in-cheek guilty pleasure or tedious load of pugwash?

Infernal has a strange presentation style - it throws out a mixture of light and dark visuals, to balance the aesthetic between the two 'corporations' (which are so obviously fronts for Heaven and Hell), although it feels like the brightness has just been turned down in some areas as trying to walk around and see pickups is impossible. It's not dark, it's just literally dark.

However any hope of a serious attempt at Good vs. Evil is promptly squashed by the game about two minutes in; sometime during your first fight actually. Campy rock music blares out nice and loud to announce the arrival of some enemy blokes and carries on quite a way after they're dead. This same bit of music is repeated every time, gets repetitive and removes any of the atmosphere the visuals were trying to create.

The cinematics don't do the game any favours either. Your new boss in Abyss booms his lines out evilly, only to be rebuffed by Lennox with pseudo-funny lines about wearing mittens and such. One-liners are rarely clever, but it's quite easy to slot them into the 'so crap they're funny' category. Infernal's quips miss the mark spectacularly and plop straight into the toilet. The 'comedy' dialogue also trashes any interest in what could be quite a dark story. By this point I didn't care about any of the characters or what they were doing - I just wanted to kill more of the bad blokes that don't look like me.

Unfortunately relying on the gameplay alone to keep you interested isn't a great idea as it's as broken as Gordon Brown's credibility (who says we aren't highbrow!) Simple things like moving Lennox about and particularly aiming, take a lot of attention as even with the sensitivity adjusted down he jerks all over the place like an epileptic breakdancer.

Lennox takes forever to get up and down ladders and if you get bored and try to jump off a 6ft ledge this ‘superweapon with demonic powers’ will die (presumably from terminal sprained ankles). There are loads of other environment interaction issues, particularly with the cover system which is so fiddly and complicated that it's better just not to bother with it at all. One game dynamic that really wrecks the flow of combat is having to stand over your dead enemies and hold 'X' to absorb their soul, which replenishes both health and ammo. You can't just stand over a body and 'absorb' either, you have to look directly at it and they disappear really quickly, so if you're in a big fight you need to run around absorbing souls while still being shot by the remaining blokes. And it's not as if the soul-sucking replaces health packs and ammo boxes as they're plastered all over the levels as well! Not fun.

Calling the combat simplistic is a compliment - it's mind-numbing. Hordes of tunic-clad baddies run onto the screen (after being announced by a wailing guitar solo) and make very little attempt to actually kill you. They seem to spend more time rolling about on the floor and taking cover than shooting in your direction. Their saving grace is the fact that it's impossible to aim at the buggers and your guns feel like pea shooters. If you get up close the right trigger is meant to change from weapons to hand-to-hand but never really works. Quite often I’ve been close enough to a bloke to tickle his nipples but because I'm not looking at his chest I've fired a whole clip over his shoulder while he pounded me! (With bullets, that is...)

Infernal has a few hell-powers that are intended to bring some variety to the game but given the scope of the powers I was pretty disappointed with how mediocre they were and how strictly they were rationed. How cool could hell-powers be? Massive fireballs? Yes please. Summoning giant Hitler-shaped demons to beat the warrior priests to death? Why not? All they actually do is make bullets more powerful, allow you to teleport (but only in a few limited situations) and switch into a different vision mode which means you can see hidden items and clues to solve (really simple) puzzles. Wow.

The most surprising thing to find was the complete lack of any autosave or checkpoint system. That's what sealed it for me with Infernal; it's 2009 and it lacks one of the most basic and essential requirements of a videogame, something that is considered standard practice. To save you have to manually do so through the pause menu. Play for an hour, forget to save and then try to jump down an 8ft ladder and you're back to the beginning! You don't even get a "Do you wish to save now" prompt. Ridiculous.

I could go on about Infernal's faults for much longer but it's not necessary - it is a poor game that borrows ideas from successful games but screws them up royally and turns fun gameplay elements into grinding chores. The lack of autosave is unforgivable in light of the dodgy gameplay elements that cause instant, unexpected death. There's no replay value, no multiplayer and one of its 'special features' is three difficulty settings. For the retail price you could get three or four games that are years older but play lightyears better. Avoid.

Best Bits

- Get to kill members of the 'clergy'
- Looks nice in places
- It's a bit less painful to play than going to the dentist
- Some of the dialogue is unintentionally funny
Worst Bits

- Awful controls
- Repetitive
- Simplistic Puzzles
- Idiot enemies
- Boring weapons and 'Hell Powers'
- Some of the character models are butt-ugly

by: Crazypunk

Copyright © Gamecell 2009