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    Whenever a game studio is willing to take a gamble on a new IP, I for one will always give the game the benefit of the doubt. In this case, the studio is Playlogic Entertainment and the title is their recently released Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance. As any gambler knows, some bets pay off well while others leave you scrounging in the gutter looking for cab fare. While Infernal is certainly not a total loss, it does have a tendency to crap out a lot.

    Let’s start with the storyline. Players take on the role of Ryan Lennox, fallen angel and former member of Heaven’s “Etherlight” – a secret agency whose purpose is to rid the world of hell’s earthly agents. For some reason, Lennox’s former employer is now hunting him down and won’t quit until he’s dead. Seeing this as an opportunity to bring aboard a powerful ally in their fight, hell recruits Lennox to join The Abyss with the promise of new magical powers and a chance to survive.

    Unfortunately, this intriguing concept devolves into a series of unbearable cutscenes anchored by poorly written dialog and terrible, campy voice acting. This deadly combination results in a tale which fails to capture your attention and sacrifices what might otherwise have been an interesting story.

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    From a visual perspective, the game looks great. Details in the environment are very nicely done and the third-person camera moves fluidly with only the occasional awkward angle to contend with. Visual effects during the action are also impressive and, while the gameplay is very linear, the levels are huge and for the most part, well designed. But we all know that good looks do not a good game make and Infernal’s flaws are too pronounced to ignore.

    The game features a less-than-stellar aiming system which forces players to chase their targets without the option of locking on or steadying their aim via zoom. This results in a lot of wasted ammo and the occasional desperate scramble to pick up the weapon of a downed foe. This may not be as big of an issue when you’re faced with small waves of enemies, but when they come in overwhelming numbers, the result is frustration.

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    This leads into the next weak spot of Infernal: balance. Lennox can take a fair amount of damage and replenishing his health is done simply by standing over a dead foe, pressing “X” and absorbing their soul. When enemy resistance is low, these abilities make the game feel a little too easy. However, when the action does pick up, it can go to the complete opposite extreme with what seems like an endless stream of enemy soldiers. Couple that with the aiming challenges, and the result can be a very frustrating experience.

    Oh, and while Lennox can take 100 rounds to the chest without breaking a sweat, falling from a eight foot scaffold results in instant death. Trust me. It happened. More than once…

    The subject of death seems the perfect segue to the most disappointing shortcoming of Infernal. The game features no checkpoints and thus, no Autosave. And by none I mean Nada. Zip. Bupkis. I discovered this, oddly enough, after I had about an hour invested in the game then met my untimely demise by way of a misstep on one of the aforementioned scaffolds. At first I was surprised only at the fact that such a short fall could claim the life of such a powerful person. But the real eye-opener came when I chose to try again and was delivered back in time to the game’s opening cutscene. Muttering to myself, I made a note on my pad and began again.

    Not including an Autosave feature (and neglecting to offer a button press “quicksave” option) forces players to pause the game with the Start button, select the Load/Save game option, select Save then finally choose a save slot in order to preserve their progress. This results in an unforgivable disruption to the flow of the game and a detachment from the small remaining pieces of the story.

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    Now that I feel as though I’ve butchered the game to bits, I do have to say that Infernal is not entirely bad. The magic Infernal powers that Lennox has are pretty cool and the weapon variety in the game is admirable. The game also features a number of puzzle solving moments which are well designed. And, despite the flaws, the game contains plenty of good ‘ole fashioned shooter action. Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance lacks all form of multiplayer options but it carries a discounted price reserved for titles lacking LIVE support.

    Overall, Infernal: Hell’s Vengeance had a lot of potential that it just didn’t reach. If Playlogic had devoted the same energy on designing the game’s heart as it did creating its skin, they could very well have had a surprise, off-season hit. Instead, the game is best taken in short play sessions with countless pause-save breaks for sanity’s sake.

    Score: 6/10

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