The 2009 Summer Games Preview

Written by Joe Martin

June 18, 2009 | 10:47

Tags: #2009 #assassins-creed-2 #batman-arkham-asylum #bioshock-2 #dantes-inferno #dragon-age #preview

Dante’s Inferno

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PSP Portable
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: January 2010

The last time we had a look at Visceral Studios’ follow-up to Dead Space, our impressions weren’t exactly very favourable, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed down the hype machine very much as Dante’s Inferno is still a hotly anticipated title in some circles (of hell).

Billed as a re-imagining of Dante Aligheri’s classic poem - which helped define the Italian language and is a key work of European literature - EA’s version of the Inferno re-casts Dante as a veteran of the crusades who returns home to find Satan sucking his girlfriend Beatrice down into hell. Deciding that he isn’t ready to put up with that, the predictably grizzled hero first beats the hell out of the Grim Reaper, then heads down into Hell itself with his scythe in hand.

The 2009 Summer Games Preview The 2009 Summer Games Preview - 3
This isn't what your English teacher is referring to when she talks about the rhyme and reason

Subtle, Dante’s Inferno isn’t. In fact, we bet that Dante himself is probably spinning in his grave at the thought of his epic poem being bastardised into a gore-fuelled hack-em-up. Visceral Studios have made a token effort to include parts of the original poem too, but having the ghost of Virgil lecturing you about the nature of suffering as you slice your way through demonic winged babies isn't exactly our idea of fun.

Still, if you’re not the type of gamer to be put-off by the spoiling of one of the most important works of fiction ever then there’s still a lot to recommend Dante’s Inferno – especially if you’re a God of War fan. You can check out our Dante’s Inferno hands-on preview for more information, but suffice it to say that there’s a lot of hack and slashery and massive bosses for you to rip the heads off of - just don't expect to actually learn anything.

Dragon Age: Origins

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 20th

The 2009 Summer Games Preview The 2009 Summer Games Preview - 3Despite being billed as the successor to BioWare’s seminal Baldur’s Gate series, Dragon Age: Origins isn’t actually set in ye olde Dungeons & Dragons universe. Instead, it’s set in a totally new game world created wholly by BioWare and which has players joining up with a secret society of Grey Wardens, desperate to repel a demonic invasion that threatens the entire kingdom. Obviously, it falls to you and a squad of three or four friends to save the world from this blight – it wouldn’t be much of a game if it didn’t!

As well as all the usual features that you’d expect of a BioWare game, such as team members you can romance and strangers who rely on you to resolve all their problems, Dragon Age is also going to see the debut of BioWare’s spell interaction system. You'll be able to combine spells and they'll react with the environment to create new effects - no longer will casting a fireball spell into a stack of dry wood leave you underwhelmed.

Really though, while spell combos are all very well and good, it's the BioWare magic that we’re craving at the moment – characters with real depth and the chance to build meaningful relationships with your allies. These are things that are difficult to find elsewhere, but which BioWare have consistently excelled in. Well, excluding Jade Empire anyway…

If Dragon Age: Origin, with its swords, sorcery and new origin system (which lets you decide how your character starts off in life), doesn’t sound like enough to keep you satisfied though then there’s always Mass Effect 2 to look forward to as well – if neither quickens your pulse then you might want to check you’re still alive. That or you're primarily a Wii-based gamer.
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