In Good vs. Evil, It's a Draw

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eidos is an interesting publisher, with some of the most popular franchises around, including Tomb Raider, Hitman, DeusEx and Thief. But it also publishes terrible games, such as Chili Con Carnage and Shellshock: Nam '67. Infernal falls somewhere in between, like the hero of this heaven vs. hell shooter.

You play Ryan Lennox, a former angel kicked out of heaven for using unorthodox methods against the bad guys. Now he is a mostly happy, gun-toting mercenary earning a living the hard way but glad to have former restrictions, such as not being able to have sex, rescinded along with his angelic powers.

The forces of heaven decide to take him out, and an ambush ensues. Leaving a trail of dead angels behind, he takes to the streets.

In the eternal struggle between good and evil, good is about to win, and you would think that's a good thing. But absolute power corrupts, and some angels are getting into shady business. So the infernal forces recruit Lennox, offering demonic powers, such as charging bullets with hellfire, sucking the souls of those recently killed for healing and even teleporting. With nowhere else to turn, Lennox accepts. He must infiltrate angelic hideouts to unravel the supernatural conspiracy.

Graphically the game is stunning. And to help separate Infernal from other shooter games, your powers are pretty cool and can be used to do interesting things, such as teleporting hapless victims off the edge of balconies or seeing secret writing on the walls to learn codes for locked doors. As a devil, you can regenerate your powers in dark and spooky spaces, but lose them if you step onto holy ground or bright, cheerful spots.

Some people may be offended by the game's religious themes and its premise that angels can be bad, God can be tricked and sometimes the devil is -- inadvertently -- looking out for the good of humanity. I suspect, however, that more people will be turned off by the horrible voice acting, the bad dubbing and the plot, which starts out great but eventually grows thin.

Infernal is a good shooter title with unique features, but, like the game's hero, it has a few flaws to contend with.

-- John Breeden II

Infernal Mature; PC Windows 2000/XP, Xbox 360 ($40) Eidos

© 2007 The Washington Post Company