DANTE'S INFERNO opens with a Gerard Butler type stitching a bloody crucifix design across his upper torso before his scream of pain segues things into a Heavy Metal-style animated cut, complete with flaming skulls, brain-piercing arrows, and mounds of corpses. After you murder a few infidels, you're off to kick Death's ass, steal his scythe, jam it in whatever passes for the face of an omnipresent conceptual being, and rend his corpse in half.
If you were wondering how one turns Dante Alighieri's nearly 700-year-old epic poem about Christian guilt into a videogame, publisher EA's answer is clearly, "Make it as violent as fucking possible."
Aside from its gouts of blood, impressive soundtrack of Wagnerian themes, and blasphemous stuff like legions of shrieking, unbaptized fetuses who are need of scythe abortions (the likes of which gave this Catholic school grad exceedingly perverse giggles), Dante's Inferno is pretty derivative. Down to the green-hued health fountains and random smattering of titties (whose appearance seems an effort to prove, once again, that nothing goes with violence like an awesome, gravity-defying rack), it looks and acts like a God of War sequel minus the Greek trappings. Honestly, I prefer the whole "Catholic doctrine is goddamn terrifying" angle, but then that may just be the horns poking out from under my habit.
Bizarrely, the only bits that managed to disturb me are the game's attempts to fictionalize the life of Alighieri himself. So his father was a gluttonous wife beater with a vagina for a mouth? Really? Even in a game bent on angering the papacy, that skews slightly cruel.
It's easy to peg Dante's Inferno as a provocative grab at a genre dominated by Sony's aforementioned Greek-themed franchise—but still, you can't deny its appeal. Though perhaps not for the reasons EA intended (and certainly not for the reasons Dante Alighieri intended), painting Hell red with the blood of sinners makes for a damn good time.