My short time spent playing Dante's Inferno on the Playstation Portable reminded me an awful lot of time spent beating Chains of Olympus on the PSP, which is both good and bad.
When I reviewed God of War: Chains of Olympus I called it portable near perfection but that was because of it's delivery of the much beloved God of War franchise to a handheld.
Dante's Inferno, though, has yet to prove itself, so it has an uphill battle. Hopefully, it won't be a Sisyphean one.
Electronic Arts didn't go to the Tokyo Game Show this year, instead the mammoth developer and publisher held a nearly day-long event at the Mado Cafe in Tokyo's exclusive Roppongi Hills. The cafe, perched on the 52 floor of the Mori Tower in the back of a museum, was stuffed with copies of most of EA's top titles. After playing a bit with the chainsaw in Left 4 Dead 2, I hunted up the only copy of the portable version of Dante's Inferno tucked away in a corner of the packed cafe.
My first hands-on with the game opened up in Dante's Fifth Circle of Hell: Wrath and Sloth. The diminutive Dante had to raise a platform with a crank while avoiding the fire spewing from holes in the surface and fighting creatures that dropped down during the level.
Later, Brian Ashcraft and I debated whether a hell of levers and cranks was something that took away from the experience. Ashcraft argued that hell wouldn't be a place of gamecraft mainstays like levers and puzzles. I pointed out that maybe the game was meant to represent hell for game designers on some deeper level.
While I see Ash's point, I don't think that the inclusion of puzzles in this game's version of hell really takes any more away from Dante's imagined circles than does the very concept of turning his epic poem into a game. And it was challenging and fun.
After making your way to the top of the puzzle-laden ride, you get to ride a raft across a sea of fire while defending yourself against flying enemies. When you reach the other side, the raft turns out to be the crown of Phlegyas.
Dante than has to survive an attack by the giant as he takes out waves of enemies. The combat in the game is fairly straight forward, with light and heavy moves and the ability to blast holy light from a cross. The fights felt a lot like the combat in Chains of Olympus, which is great. The movement and tempo is fast, though perhaps a bit too forgiving.
While I only spent about 20 minutes playing Dante's Inferno on the Playstation Portable, it feels like the game will be a solid version of the console title. The only thing I was left questioning was whether an unproven franchise will be able to attract an audience on the PSP.