|System: X360, PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: A2M, Visceral Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 1, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Whenever a major console release comes with a PSP port in tow, there is usually good reason to be apprehensive. Some can fare just fine, but then there are the others. The PSP ports that take what is essentially a good, or even great, console game and yet somewhere along the line wind up twisting and breaking whatever worked in the other versions and then selling it based solely on its name. Thankfully, this is definitely not the case with Dante's Inferno for the PSP. In fact, I believe this PSP version may be better equipped to face its immediate competition than the console versions of the game.
Admittedly, this statement is made partially true due to the lack of similar, high quality beat'em ups on the platform. Dante's Inferno for the PSP doesn't have to worry about its release being bookended between the likes of the crazy and over-the-top Bayonetta and the looming shadow of Kratos' swan song in God of War III. However, Dante's main competition does still come from the man who wants to kill Zeus in the form of his two-year-old God of War: Chains of Olympus. While I think Kratos probably still wins in a heads-up comparison, Dante's Inferno holds its own as one of the best action adventure titles on the PSP.
As you probably already know, the story of Dante's Inferno has been loosely adapted from the first book of Dante Alighieri's epic poem, The Divine Comedy. When I say loosely adapted I mean incredibly loose, like a tent-sized sweater for a tiny child. Think of it less like a direct translation from the epic poem and more like Dante's Inferno for Dummies set to gratuitous violence. Although it isn't a direct transcription of the epic poem, the story in Dante's Inferno is still quite entertaining and worth playing through. After a grueling stretch in the Crusades, Dante returns home to find his lady Beatrice murdered and Lucifer stealing her soul. To help save his wife from whatever Lucifer has in mind, Dante must slaughter his way through the nine circles of Hell in order to get to her.
Since he's been in the Crusades, Dante is no stranger to weapon-based combat. He quickly makes this apparent, killing Death himself and stealing his scythe for his own use. Using the scythe is mainly reliant on the square and triangle buttons, providing quick and heavy attacks, respectively. Mixing between the two as well as quick button presses will execute combos, which become more and more useful as the game progresses.
Dante will also discover a divine cross and some magical attacks along his adventure to save Beatrice. The cross functions similarly to a shotgun blast, propelling nearby and ranged enemies away from combat while still doling out punishment. This weapon is as fun to use as it is useful, allowing you to keep hordes of overly eager enemies at a distance. However, if you do happen to get overwhelmed, your magical attacks can still save the day. These attacks range anywhere from creating a timed shield that damages nearby enemies to a devastating attack that equates to a concussive bubble that blasts outward in every direction. While your magic can help to get you out of a bind, the act of using them is somewhat cumbersome due to the fact that you'll need to take your thumb off of the analog nub in order to press the correct direction on the D-pad. Of course, if you're already being overrun, this small sacrifice is likely still more than worth it.
All three of your weapons (scythe, cross, and magic) can also all be upgraded from a menu on the pause screen. Killing enemies, solving puzzles, destroying red fountains, and choosing certain characters' final destinations will earn you currency, which of course, in a game about Hell, are souls. Dante can then take these souls and pour them into upgrades such as new combos, spell upgrades, and health and magic bar extensions. The only catch is that besides the amount of souls each upgrade will set you back, you'll also have to be the appropriate level on either the holy or unholy scale in order to unlock them.
Being holy or unholy in Dante's Inferno feels a bit tacked-on and really doesn't seem to serve a purpose other than to make it harder for you to earn all of the possible upgrades. There are two main ways to skew towards the light side or the dark, and neither really affects anything else. Whenever you've whittled an enemy's life down to almost nothing, you'll have the choice to either punish or absolve them. Either way you'll still butcher them, albeit in different manners, but your decision will affect which type of experience you'll gain from the death. The same mostly goes with the random cowering travelers you'll find, usually hidden, throughout the game. Although absolving these folks won't result in a bloody execution, your choice really won't matter besides what kind of experience you'll earn from making it.