If you live a life of sin and gluttony, Infernal will be waiting for you in the afterlife.
- Dialogue is funny at times.
- Shoddy controls
- Illogical puzzles
- Frame rate problems
- Superpowers are underutilized.
Infernal was originally released to middling reception more than two years ago for the PC, and the years spent porting this third-person shooter to the Xbox 360 have not done the game any favors. Clunky controls and shoddy cover mechanics make this an easier game to put down than to pick up, and perseverance is rewarded only with repetitive enemy encounters and inconsistent logic. The story does provide the occasional moment of levity, presenting the battle between heaven and hell in such an over-the-top fashion that it's hard to not smirk at the ridiculous dialogue. But this tiny glimmer of light is not strong enough to pull this otherwise soulless game from the depths of darkness.
You play as Ryan Lennox, an earth-bound agent fighting the endless war between heaven and hell. After being sacked by heaven's EtherLight corporation, you team up with hell's public facade--The Abyss--in order to strike back at your former employer. Your new boss is Lucius Black, the embodiment of evil, who is more than happy to give his newest turncoat agent all the information needed to destroy his rivals, as well as demonic powers so no one will be able to stand in your way. The story is full of celestial puns and silly non sequiturs; thus, the goofy dialogue makes the plot amusing and weird at times, though it often doesn't make sense. The story provides an odd contrast to the endless bloodshed of combat, but considering how wonky the combat is, this is a welcome respite.
The action plays out like a typical third-person shooter, albeit with cumbersome controls. Aiming is extremely finicky, so hitting a moving enemy or lining up a precise headshot is a practice in futility. The cover mechanic is so poorly implemented that it only serves to make the game more difficult. You jump into cover by tapping toward a solid object, but it's far too easy to get sucked into cover by accident. Getting unstuck is also a chore, so you will often find yourself desperately trying to become unglued from a box while an angry monk throws shurikens at your noggin. Double-tapping in any direction allows you to perform an invincible roll, but is too easy to pull off by accident, making you tumble around the battlefield like a fool. The idea of slowly somersaulting in front of angry men with assault rifles may seem funny, but when you roll off a five-foot-tall ledge to your death, you won't be laughing.
In addition to your standard array of pistols and automatics, you get to play around with some demonic powers. The most useful of these powers is a soul-sucking ability that lets you gain health and ammo from dead soldiers. This is a good idea in theory, moving away from the automatic health regeneration typical for the genre, but it is irritating in practice. It takes more than five seconds to pull off this action, and because you have to perform this move throughout the game whenever you need a refill, it gets extremely tedious before long. Furthermore, dead enemies disappear far too quickly, which forces you to hunt down corpses before the room is cleared of living attackers, needlessly putting you into harm's way. Another power lets you charge up your gun so it can shoot evil bullets, but your normal attackers are so weak that using this ability is pointless unless you're fighting a boss. Finally, although you can teleport both yourself and other objects to solve puzzles, these instances are quite rare; the powers feel like a missed opportunity. It's probably for the best, though, because controlling these teleportations is just as awkward as every other action in this game.
If the shoddy controls and tedious demon powers are enough to derail this shooter, the inconsistent logic dooms it. The levels in Infernal are linear, but you will often find yourself stuck because the game doesn't stay true to its own set of rules. Glass is bulletproof everywhere in game except for one section where you must shoot out a pane of glass to advance; fences can't be climbed at all or have barbed-wire at the top except for one instance where you must climb over a fence to reach freedom; switches can be triggered by teleporting nearby and hitting a button, except for one puzzle where this inexplicably doesn't work; and you can die by falling off some ledges that are only five feet in the air, but other boxes and platforms the same distance from the ground allow you to jump off with no repercussions. These inconsistencies make your quest frustrating, forcing you to go against the already established logic to progress.
Infernal: Hell's Vengeance is a forgettable shooter that spends more time irritating players with imprecise controls and illogical puzzles than it does entertaining them with thrilling action or killer set piece battles. The save system is another annoyance. There is no autosave option or checkpoints, so you must remember to save manually. Although this make it easier to bypass the trickier portions, fiddling around in the menus takes too long, destroying much of the appeal of quick saving. Even the best moments of Infernal, when enemies are swarming and explosions are going off all around you, are hampered by a stuttering frame rate that make these sections nearly unplayable. It doesn't matter if it's bargain price, full price, or flat-out free, Infernal is not worth your time.