Arts&Entertainment

sore thumbs

By Matthew Scott Hunter

 

‘Dante’s Inferno’ (M)
An epic poem

***1/2
Electronic Arts
Xbox 360

A quick note to students out there who’ve been assigned to read “The Divine Comedy:” this game will not give you a Cliff’s Notes version of the story. If you choose to play this game rather than study the archaic verses themselves, your test will result in an F. However, your gaming experience will get a B. “Dante’s Inferno” takes dramatic liberties with its source material, as have most books and movies that have referenced the literary classic. But that’s because the element of this epic poem that captures so many imaginations is the grisly image of clever, ironic punishments for the damned. This game takes that concept and runs with it.

If the “God of War” games had been around in the 13th century, Dante might very well have written his story exactly as its presented in this game — as a total “God of War” rip off. Dante’s scythe may as well be Kratos’ blades of chaos, and hell may as well be Hades. I suppose the biggest difference is that Kratos, born well before the advent of Christianity, didn’t have to fight unbaptised babies during his stint in the underworld. “Inferno” is best at its most shocking, when you’re slaughtering lustful whores and morbidly obese gluttons. Unfortunately, these creative and controversial encounters wane in the second half, leaving us to hack-‘n-slash enemies we should’ve left behind in previous circles of hell. This game’s sin is “God of War” envy, and its punishment is that no matter how hard it tries, it’ll never quite get there.

 

‘No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle’ (M)
****1/2
Ubisoft
Wii

“No More Heroes” has got to be the craziest game to ever spawn an even crazier sequel. You cut stylized geysers of blood into enemy bodies with a lightsaber, you save your game progress on the toilet and you periodically get a kill spree that transforms you into a tiger, with no explanation offered other than the obvious truth that mauling assassins as a tiger is awesome. This sequel has more innovative motion controls and a collection of retro mini-games that make it better than the original. Not everyone will like it, but those who do will love it.

 

‘MAG’ (T)
***
Sony Computer Entertainment
PlayStation 3

“MAG” promised us 256-player simultaneous first-person shooter action. This promise demanded technical breakthroughs and epic battles. “MAG” delivers half. Technically, there are 256 players, but it never feels that way when you’re confined to an 8-man squad and are penalized for straying from the squad leader. The best players might earn command ranks that yield a big picture view, but most people will just wind up being grunts in a squad similar to those in other shooters, except this one sacrifices graphics to accommodate 200+ players you’ll never see.

 

‘Silent Hill: Shattered Memories’ (M)
***
Konami
PlayStation Portable

It’s hard to play the PSP version of the “Silent Hill” remake after already exploring its dark corners, using the Wii remote as a flashlight. Weaker graphics and occasional load times spoil the immersion and the atmosphere, and this game is all about atmosphere. However, every other aspect of the console game has made the transition to the handheld. As long as you keep your PSP turned off until after dark, you’re still in for a creepy experience.


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