DEVELOPER: Visceral Games
PUBLISHER: EA Games
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2010 is the year of the action game. More specifically, action games that feature over-the-top “God of War”-style combat against ghastly creatures. As the third one released in only two months, “Dante’s Inferno” had the most potential, but alas, the action is forgettable and the story pales in comparison to the source material.
Very loosely based on “The Divine Comedy” by Alighieri, “Dante’s Inferno” isn’t funny at all. In fact, the depiction of hell in this title is frightening enough to give anyone nightmares if they believe in that sort of thing. After his beloved Beatrice is killed and her soul is damned, Dante must traverse the Nine Circles of hell in order to be reunited with his true love. Along the way, he brutally slays all who stand in his path using Death’s Scythe and various holy powers.
Fighting enemies is fun for a while, but Dante’s move repertoire just doesn’t look as cool as that of Kratos, the God of War. Sure it’s fun to hack and slash at enemies, but most players will find that using the two basic attack buttons can be more effective than employing Dante’s various abilities, which is rather disappointing. Players can also blast enemies with Beatrice’s Cross, but the attack is so weak that it’s only worth using against flying enemies.
One interesting feature is the ability to pass judgment on weak enemies. Dante can literally pick them up with the blade of his scythe and then decide whether to punish or absolve them. Punishing rewards the player with Unholy experience points, while Absolution offers Holy experience points, both of which can be used to purchase or upgrade Holy and Unholy powers.
“Dante’s Inferno” isn’t a bad game, but the combat is weak and the story line strays so much from its allegorical source that it features more prose than pros.
‘SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3’
DEVELOPER: Slant Six Games
SYSTEM: Sony PSP
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Navy SEALs train for a wide variety of enemy encounters, but one foe they never expect is poor game play. While the SOCOM series used to be the epitome of military shooters on the PS2, its foray onto the PS3 was universally hailed as second-rate. During the same time, the PSP series strayed from a military shooter to a military action/strategy game with mixed results. Now the developers have thankfully returned to the original formula for “SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3.”
Players assume the role of a U.S. Navy SEALs commander who must locate a dangerous ex-KGB agent named Alexander Gozorov. This Russian has information about an impending WMD attack against Western interests in Eurasia, and only the SEALs can track him down. Unfortunately, this believable scenario degrades into little more than a showcase of how awesome the SEALs are, which might be great for 10-year-olds but is laughable to adults.
New to the series is the ability to command three squad members instead of only one. Now players can set up crossfire ambushes and rely on their teammates more often, while enemies increase in number to compensate. Too bad players can’t issue orders to individual teammates. Instead, the four-man squad is broken up into two groups that can be ordered around separately, but it’s nice to have three teammates as opposed to one.
An aspect of the series that I’ve always enjoyed is the freedom to approach enemy installations using stealth. While it isn’t necessary, sneaking into a situation and then rushing out with guns blazing certainly makes combat more interesting! I also like the bonus objectives that push players to try levels over and over as well as the ability to play the game cooperatively with friends. Speaking of multiplayer, this title features some of the best co-op and 16-player adversarial online modes available on the PSP.
“SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3” looks great and plays even better, which is something the ailing PSP library desperately needs.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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