Review: Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance

InfernalHellsVengeance.jpg Anyone remember Infernal? It was a PC third-person shooter Eidos and Playlogic put out a couple years ago? I’m going to take a wild guess here that those of you reading this are drawing a blank, and I can’t blame you for a second. Infernal was a dull, forgettable game, to put it kindly. I can’t be as kind when talking about the new Xbox 360 version, though. Playlogic recently resurrected the game for a port to the 360, giving it an edgy “it’s so much cooler than the original” subtitle, Hell’s Vengeance. But unfortunately a fancy new subtitle can’t save this game from the fiery infernos of the Xbox 360’s hall of shame.

Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance gets off to a poor start from the second the first cut-scene begins to roll. The woeful script and horrifying voice acting put a sour taste in your mouth that simply won’t go away for the duration of the game’s five short chapters. There is a story here – something about a special agent named Ryan Lennox caught in the middle of the ever-waging battle between Heaven (EtherLight) and Hell (The Abyss) – but it’s so poorly written and acted that you’ll feel the urge to skip through cut-scenes by the end of the first mission. In terms of animation quality, the cut-scenes also look straight out of the PS2 era, and while the in-game graphics aren’t too shabby, they haven’t improved at all since the 2007 PC version and the age definitely shows.

The game itself takes the form of your average, everyday third-person shooter, showing clear signs of inspiration from older titles like Gears of War, Psi-Ops and Max Payne. Mr. Lennox gains access to a diverse arsenal of low and high-tech weaponry, which you get to use in blasting through carbon-copy EtherLight soldiers, in addition to a variety of demonic superpowers, such as teleportation, telekinesis, and the ability to add a flaming infernal charge to your weapon fire. And when not runnin’ and gunnin’, you get to spend time hunting for keycards, hacking into computers and flipping plenty of switches.

None of this is very original, but in premise the game doesn’t sound too bad. Although bland and generic, the game has the trappings of a mindlessly fun third-person shooter and potential guilty pleasure. But sadly the core of the game is too fundamentally flawed for these trappings to shine through.

Shoddy controls spell Infernal’s doom. Targeting is far too touchy and imprecise, making it difficult to shoot even the dumb enemies who stand in place waiting to be shot, let alone the “smarter” enemies who at least attempt to evade your attacks, and even the character movement is clunky and tank-like. I tried adjusting the control sensitivity numerous times hoping to find some way to at least put a band-aid on the problem, but try as I might I couldn’t find a happy medium. Ultimately, I had two bad options: play with higher sensitivity and attempt to counteract the overly twitchy targeting by spamming the enemies with reckless gunfire, or play with a lower sensitivity and put up with sluggish targeting, turning and movement speed so I could at least aim at what I wanted to aim at. Suffice to say, both options sucked and I didn’t want to put up with either one of them, and you shouldn’t have to either. Controls this lousy are simply unacceptable.

Controls aren’t the only problem here, though. Many other nagging quirks cripple the game even further. For instance, why is there no checkpoint system? Saving progress is entirely up to you pausing the game every few minutes and manually saving a checkpoint. This only takes a few seconds, but when you have to keep doing it the game’s pacing completely falls apart. And trust me, you must save often because the first time you forget to save and wind up having to replay through half a level’s worth of lost progress you will want to pull the game disc out of your 360 and smash it to pieces. You don’t even get an automatic checkpoint in between missions – if you move from one mission to the next and fail to save your progress, death will have you going back to your last save from the previous mission. That’s absurd!

I could also ramble on for a few more paragraphs about the choppy frame rate, the clunky cover system, how the cool superpowers are wasted on inane block and switch puzzles, and how stupidly the game’s ammo system works – if you shoot one bullet and reload, you lose a full clip of ammo rather than just the single bullet – but at this point that would be overkill. By now I think you get the picture – Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance, though filled with potential, is a dated, poorly executed mess of a third-person shooter. May it burn in hell!

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Special powers are cool in concept
+ Graphics are at least decent

Cons:
– Lousy controls
– No checkpoint or auto-save system whatsoever
– Awful story and voice acting
– Choppy frame rate
– Special powers wasted on rudimentary puzzles

Game Info:
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Playlogic
Developer: Metropolis Soft.
Release Date: 6/30/09
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!