A Jaded Gamer’s Salvation

Some visitors to TheSixthAxis will know I’m more often than not a bit of a grumpy bugger, and recently this grumpiness is spilling over into my gaming life. I’m actually quite jaded with my PlayStation 3 and even gaming in general – yes we’ve got blockbuster games left, right and centre, and yes it’s been a great end to 2009 and 2010 looks even better with epicness promised on a never before seen scale from the likes of MAG, Heavy Rain, Bioshock 2, God Of War III and, who knows, maybe The Last Guardian and even Gran Turismo 5.

But do you know what? I don’t care! It’s not my poor old PS3’s fault either as I also have less than zero interest in goings on of Peter Molyneux’s Fable III, the antics of the MasterChief / Rookie or whatever in Halo: Reach as well as a certain plumber’s activities in Super Mario Galaxy 2. I really can’t care for any of it.

For some reason nothing is exciting me or making me want to pick up my joypad. I am completely disillusioned by all that gaming has to offer, whether it’s minor stuff like announcements of announcements all the way up to the latest super exciting blockbuster of a game landing on my doormat that seemingly teh interwebz is literally doing its nut over. Have I seen it all before? Am I just a bit old? Is there nothing left in gaming for me?

Well, no, because I’m as happy as pig in the brown stuff when I’m playing a two and a half year multiplayer slice of awesomeness called Warhawk, nothing on the PlayStation 3 makes me feel as good as when I’m racing back from the enemy base with their flag in tow taking heavy enemy fire with the clock ticking down through the final thirty seconds.

That thrill and exhilaration and action like that, happens all the time in Warhawk right from the first ten sends to the last, whether it’s taking apart an orchestrated and careful attack on my base with a combination of a cunningly placed proximity mine and a bolt of lightening  from my Warhawk, before landing and taking a few more out with my rocket launcher and even a luckily tossed grenade as I myself bite the bullet, or going toe-to-toe with an enemy tank armed with nothing more than a flame thrower, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in gaming to compare with the buzz Warhawk gives me.

Yes, I’ve played other games and even enjoyed a few of them, from the top of my head there’s Civilisation Revolution, Dead Space and Flower – those are this generation’s top of the pops. FIFA 09 & 10 have also received a fair amount of playtime, but lately my frustrations with FIFA 10’s shortcomings mean it hardly ever gets my attention now, and of course Uncharted 2 kept my attention right to the end, and why wouldn’t it? It was awesome, but about five levels in to a second run-through I got bored and fired up Warhawk again.

So, has Warhawk ruined gaming for me and if nothing else can live up to it in my enjoyment-stakes is there any hope for me whilst waiting for Starhawk to be released?

As it turns out there was hope for me and it came from an unlikely source, from a game which some people have labeled a ‘rip off’, a copy of one of gaming’s greatest strengths, God Of War. I am, of course, talking about Dante’s Inferno – a game which in my ever increasingly limited gaming time has quite probably saved gaming for me.

So I was wondering just how Visceral Games’ masterpiece has done this amazing feat and rescued my mind from the sea of gaming negativity it was in. Was it the crispness of the graphics rarely seen on the slightly washed out and edge-blurred graphics of the PS3, the sheer scale and epicness of the action, the awesome achievement of locking the action at the holy grail of 60 frames per second?

Perhaps it is the ultra-fast combat which has that indescribably perfect ‘weight’ to it, or the fantastically realised vision of hell that Visceral have portrayed with help with from artists like Wayne Barlow whose drawings of hell’s creatures are everywhere from movies like Hellboy & Pan’s Labyrinth to his paintings which are famous for being the modern ideal of hell and hellish creatures.

Is it, perhaps, the musical score written and produced by Garry Schyman and recorded by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Metro Voices Choir at Abbey Road Studios which so perfectly accompanies the action as Dante journeys through the nine circles of hell?

No, it is all of those things which combine into one amazing gaming experience which is never anything less than jaw dropping from the early moments right through to the end sequence. There is one point where you are floating across the Styx Marshes using your ranged holy cross attacks to keep the winged beasts at bay when you reach the shoreline the music changes perfectly to the grandeur that is happening on screen as something amazing happens.

I’m not going to go in to detail for fear of spoiling it for the people who are still to experience it, but suffice to say it is my favourite moment in all of gaming, where the action, graphics and importantly musical score combine in to something which blew my mind.

Dante’s Inferno has rekindled my desire to pick up my joypad, and whilst I appreciate the graphics, the amazing musical score and the awesome level of effort which has gone into Dante’s Inferno, I just love the gameplay – the sheer ‘weight’ of it as you swing Death’s scythe and the pad rumbles in my hand and on screen enemies are instantly torn in half as the orchestral music reaches a crescendo.

The way your combos flow from gruesome scythe attacks to devastating cross attacks and back again as you’re provided with an almost never ending number of enemies to satisfyingly dispatch. So, errrm thank you Visceral and the whole team behind Dante’s Inferno right from the cleaner all the way to the head of the studio, and the guy at EA who was signing the cheques. Thank you all so much I’m now off back to hell. Again.

So, how do you feel about gaming and is there a stand-out title which keeps you coming back for more, or how about a gaming scene where the action, graphics and music combined so perfectly you’ll probably remember it forever?