So Dante's Inferno (the game) has finally hit the streets and I've had a chance to give the demo a spin on Xbox Live.
I want to make it clear that I haven't played the full game, so it is possible that some of my opinions based on the demo may be wrong.
I also want to make it clear that I don't really need to play the full game to form my opinions on it, as it is a shameless derivative of God of War, and thus it is most likely that my thoughts are correct. As always.
The game is comfortably mediocre, but the sheer averageness is not what I want to make a focus of in my writing. I want to draw attention to just how hard they have tried, nay struggled, to make a game that is offensive to Christians (Catholics, in particular). I find it interesting because, from a game design perspective, this is the most extreme example that I can recall of taking a AAA budget game and spending every penny on marketing instead of making a good game.
You may recall the mock protests over the game that EA put on (tastelessly, even for them) at last year's E3. The initial idea was to make fun of christian groups that the media likes to popularly portray as always being loud and angry about something or another. In an odd twist of fate, the people most fooled by the mock protest were many in the mainstream media who, in a stunning display of ignorant prejudice, couldn't help but jump at the chance of making fun of those ignorant, prejudiced religious folks.
I should point out that, to their credit, many gaming media websites, like Gamespot, actually got it right. Maybe they hate EA more than they hate religion.
I also can't help but find it amusing that they should try so very hard to craft a Christian bashing game, knowing that of all major religions the Christians are the least likely to try and kill you over your insults. What they were counting on was some angry blogging to generate buzz, and none of the more unpleasant things that can happen when a certain other religion gets insulted (I'm looking at you, Zarathustrians). Fortunately, no religious groups took the bait and the only insulting thing about the game is its own shallow gameplay (and, if you are well read enough, the butchering of a classic work of literary art).
The game itself has you in the shiny metal boots of a Christian crusader who dies and, obviously, goes to hell for his part in the war. Then you kill Death, and something something something, your constantly naked wife is murdered and for some reason she goes to hell too (possibly for never wearing any clothing) and, yadda yadda yadda, the poet Dante Alighieri teaches you magic spells and helps you traipse your way through hell and a series of images and landscapes straight out of the Subversion for Idiots guidebook.
As a final note: The gamer in me can't help but add this bit: The game of Dante's Inferno is, after all, worth a rental. I look somewhat forward to button mashing and quick time event-ing my way through this thing on some boring weekend. Also, they clearly hired the same people who did the Heavy Metal cartoons to do the cutscenes for the game. That, for me anyway, is a small plus.
Still, I'll probably have to roll my eyes a bunch along the way to the end.