Ever since Dante’s Inferno was announced it has been slammed by many people as a shameless God of War clone, and in a general round-about-way they are completely right. The control scheme is completely God of War-esque right off the bat, and the general feel of the game is also very similar.To try to convince people that the game is more than a shameless rip-off EA has released a demo for PS3 owners first, to try to convert the God of War fans.

The demo starts off with a CGI cutscene showing Dante sewing a cloth cross into his skin which details Dante’s many sins. This cross is used to introduce anime cutscenes that go into depth on Dante’s past, and his dark secrets. Both the CGI and anime cutscenes are used in an effective manner, and both have very high production values and work well and add variety to the story.

After some story dumpage we go into the past where Dante is in Acre as a crusader, where he comes under attack by some weak human dudes who fall pretty quickly to your halberd’s light and heavy attacks and combos. After slaughtering those fools you move on and then get stabbed in the back by an assassin.

As Dante is left to die, Death himself comes to claim his soul and send him to Hell. Dante refuses to face his destiny, and prepares to do battle with Death.

All of this transpires with in-game cutscenes, which compares poorly to it’s fantastic CG and anime brethren, but the characters animate well. And I really enjoyed the voice acting, Dante doesn’t sound like a gruff soulless badass like Kratos, and instead has a very soulful and emotional voice actor who portrays the character well. Other characters have good voice work also, with Death and others sounding like they should.

As a first boss battle, Death is good and fair and as long as you block and dodge you’ll survive and triumph. After inflicting a good amount of damage to Death, you switch out your halberd for Death’s badass scythe and precede to beat the crap outta Death.

Combo’s with the early halberd felt wrong and out-of-place, but as soon as you gain the scythe everything comes together well and feels right. Another quicktime event kicks up with Death begging for his life, up until Dante cuts him in half.

After surviving his confrontation with Death, Dante decides to head home back to his wife Beatrice, but finds his house in ruins and arrives in time to find her dead with her soul getting stolen by some dark force. Dante gives pursuit, fighting off mysterious dark demons as he heads to the church. Here he finds Beatrice, seemingly being raped by this dark force, who then drags her to hell. This is where you gain your other weapon, the cross, which functions as a range/crowd control weapon.

Here the game introduces its upgrade mechanic and pseudo-moral choice decision system. By grabbing enemies with your scythe you can choice to either completely obliterate  them with your scythe, or save their souls with the holy cross.

You gain extra souls pertaining to either the Unholy upgrade tree that powers up your scythe, or the Holy path upgrading your cross. The two upgrade trees are incredibly deep, and seem like it’ll be impossible to fully fill up both of them by the end of the game. Obliterating enemies is quick and satisfying, while saving them takes a great deal of time to accomplish and probably gives the greatest benefit.

Once you make your way through the church you find yourself at the gates of hell, which happens to be modeled after Auguste Rodin sculpture, but you cannot open it. Here you find Virgil the poet, who claims that Beatrice asked him to guide you through hell to her.

Dante swears an oath to save her, Virgil gives him the power to unleash devastating attacks called Magic. After which hordes of the unholy erupt from the ground around you, trying to kill you.

After long long fight sequence, a new powerful demonic enemy with goat horns confronts you who is a little harder to kill than the little dudes you fought along the way. After more fighting a gigantic beast with a rider on top breaks through a wall.

Once you’ve worn it down, you’ll enter a quicktime event where you gain possession of the beast. Which controls incredibly well, then you use the beast to kill more enemies by smashing them and breathing fire.

After all enemies are dead you steer the beast over to the gates of hell, and using the beast you rip them open. As Dante enters in, the demo ends.

The demo was fun and a pleasure to play through, the controls were incredibly solid and offered no hinderance to the mayhem you caused. Technically the graphics were a little on the weak side, though the game ran at a steady smooth 60 FPS which really added to the experience.

Once of the most surprising thing about Dante’s Inferno was it’s upgrade system, was which incredibly deep reminding me of Diablo and Borderlands right off the bat. And the Punish and Save system is an interesting innovation to the hack ‘n slash genre.

Another good thing was that the story was very interesting, and was told well with a good mix of CGI, anime, and in-game cutscnes. And I’m intrigued on how it’ll develop.

The ultimate sin of the Dante’s Inferno demo is that it doesn’t take place in hell, which, from the videos, looks incredible and shows Dante’s Inferno’s unique artstyle.

Despite that I fully recommend that PS3 owners try this out, which is out now while 360 owners will have to wait until December 24th.  The game will be in stores Feburary 9th, 2010. Prepare to go to hell.

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