Just in case you were wondering, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic is a direct to DVD animated movie spin-off of EA Games’ Dante Inferno 2010 video game release. Now you know.
This week’s Screenshot Saturday takes a look at the birth of the Hell-crusading Dante who charges in after the shadow form Lucifer stole Beatrice’s soul and whisked it away with him through the Gates of Hell.
Unable to break through Hell’s Gates after they closed right before him, an anguished Dante falls to his knees in despair, but this state does not last long as terrifying demonic hands break free from the ground behind him and snatch him up, binding him with blood red ribbon which then gets sewn into his flesh. The ribbon contains endless moving montages of his transgressions committed during his time out on the Crusades and also acts as his eternal source of power as the constant reminder of what he has done and how he is truly the reason behind Beatrice’s awful fate.
However, with the enigmatic poet Virgil at his side, Dante finds renewed strength in his quest to save his beloved and manages to break his way into Hell’s inferno – though this proves to only be the start of his long, torturous and bloody journey that will see him go on and face the very might of Lucifer himself!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante’s_Inferno:_An_Animated_Epic
EA Games recently released Dante’s Inferno, a re-imagining of the original epic poem sharing the same name, and a game that borrows much from the hack and slash classics that is God of War. Of course, in an attempt to cash in on the big release, EA has seen it fit to commission the creation of Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic – basically a straight to DVD, feature length film created from the stitched together work originating from a number of animation houses, much in the vein of The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight.
But here’s the kicker. It’s actually a stitched together movie that’s got the formula right!
The story follows Dante, a knight returned from the Crusades only to find his beloved Beatrice dead, slain at the hands of one who steals her very soul and transports it straight to hell. Realizing that it is his fault and with nothing else but the salvation of his beloved on his mind, Dante charges after the dark figure and attempts to break into Hell as a living mortal, though this is initially denied to him. However, be it divine or demonic intervention, his sins get sewn upon his body and his renewed spirit, together with the unexpected council from the long dead poet Virgil, allows him to break down the doors and so his descent through the various levels of Hell begins as he tracks down Beatrice’s soul in an effort to free her and deal with the Dark One responsible for her capture.
Limbo. Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Anger. Heresy. Violence. Fraud. Treachery. Dante and his Hellish scythe must cleave the way through these all and in the process confront his own trespasses if he is ever to save the pureness that is Beatrice from the clutches of pure evil!
In fairness, borrowing only the smallest of elements from Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece, Dante’s Inferno, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic is written by Joe Goyette and was released in February 2010, featuring segments from six different animation studios, including Film Roman (Dead Space: Downfall), Manglobe (Samurai Champloo), Dongwoo Animation, JM Animation and Production I.G., and is delivered through the eyes of six different directors, including Shuko Murase (Ergo Proxy) and Yasoumi Umetsu (Kite: Liberator).
As mentioned above, the story is pretty much one way traffic in that you basically have Dante starting at point one and hacking and slashing his way through to the final encounter at point b. However, along the way things get interesting as with each new level of Hell comes a bit of backstory which then slowly sheds light on as to how this situation did eventually arise as well as Dante’s rather less than innocent involvement in this whole matter. Of course, the big thing for this sewn together movie is the various realizations of hell and as such, the story manages to get this one nailed down pretty tightly as you are taken on a truly harrowing journey through the underworld. Of course, not all plot ends are explained nor followed fully to their end for that matter, but for the most part by the end of the movie you can be satisfied that a full story has been told, left possible room for a sequel and at that you haven’t just sat through an hour and a half of mindless violence without something to show for it.
In terms of visuals, for the most part Dante’s Inferno really impresses. Film Roman gets things going with some great animated sequences and their particular vision of the demonic hands sewing up Dante is a thing to behold. Manglobe as can be expected churn out some stellar action sequences and stylish backdrops and this is complemented by Production I.G. segment at the end. Unfortunately the character design from the two Korean studios don’t exactly meet my approval, but their capturing of the action as well as the visual look for their respective circles of hell are certainly well worth the look.
As a whole, the film manages to make Hell as repulsive and harrowing as what you can imagine, throwing some disturbing imagery at you whenever it can. The animation remains tight and fluid and as a whole, the whole thing is pretty nicely choreographed, though you do have to make a conscious effort to make the mental leap each time Dante and Virgil take the character design shuffle with each new animation studio crossing. Of course bloodshed and gore are central to the whole Dante’s Inferno experience and as such you need to go into this expecting plenty of blood, severed body parts and spilled guts literally littering the screen – which they do I’ll have you know.
Oh, and do realize that there are plenty of biblical and demonic references to take in. Showing this at a Sunday School camp may not necessarily be a good idea.
Quite frankly, I don’t like the multiple studios handling a movie gig but I will grudgingly admit that Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic had got the formula right. The segments are tightly bound together and form a coherent and single story that is quite enjoyable to sit through. It is a polished release with some great audio in terms of soundtrack and voice acting, some hellishly rendered, effective animation and manages to suck you in and make you sit down and watch from start to finish.
If you love your animation brutal, bloody, stylish and full of fight (with just a tinge of disturbed), you can’t go wrong with Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante%27s_Inferno:_An_Animated_Epic
Hands up if you were a fan of the trigger-happy button masher on steroids that was Devil May Cry 3, featuring everyone’s favourite son of Sparda come Demon Hunter, Dante? Yes? Well I absolutely loved it and I’m happy to say that Devil May Cry 4 kicks off exactly from the level set by Devil May Cry 3 and then raises the bar just that little – Oh and it even looks a whole lot prettier this time around!
For this outing the story follows a man other than Dante, a young trouble-maker with a itching for a fight and a demonic hand to match, who just happens to be in the employ of the Order of the Sword that currently worships Sparda as the saviour of its people. Nero is however drawn into an unlikely conflict as demons are unleashed upon the world once again and at the same time, a mysterious man in red appears to murder the Order’s leader and spiritual guide Sanctus. With only the safety of his beloved Kyrie in his mind, Nero accepts the challenge and enters the fray – though the extent of the deception and danger that still awaits him has yet to fully reveal itself!
Released in 2008 from makers Capcom, Devil May Cry 4 slips snuggly in the same fast-paced 3rd person, hack and slash gameplay of its predecessors, though it brings a new element into play thanks to Nero’s Devil Bringer demonic grappling arm. Again we have the fixed camera locations, the industrial metal soundtrack, the over the top sound effects, screams and one-liners, a variety of some fairly strangely designed demons together with a LOT of very cool, well executed CG cutscenes to take in.
In terms of gameplay, you get to experience the game controlling both Nero and Dante through the course of the game, though it is without a doubt that this new upstart Nero is the main protagonist from stage 1. Armed with both a ranged gun attack as well as a sword attack, Nero gets the added grappling abilities gifted through his Devil Bringer arm, a new gameplay mechanic and one that actually elevates the Devil May Cry experience and actually makes Nero more fun to play with than Dante himself! In terms of Dante, you have access to the same abilities and styles as from Devil May Cry 3, meaning you still have your various guns and swords available to you to switch through as you like (though now you can switch between all at a simple button press during a stage whenever you want), plus the added four styles of Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster and Royal Guard to play with.
Both Nero and Dante have access to a Devil Trigger ability that when activated grants them a cool new look, increased power and abilities and also a slow health regeneration boost. As for the actually running around and playing, the pace is still frenetic as you jump, hack and slash away at enemies to eventually reveal over the top, larger than life boss characters and of course obtain those all important red orbs that can be used to upgrade your weapons and abilities at designated divinity statues and stage begin menus. As before, the style system is in place to judge your overall score on a particular stage as well as the amount of orbs dropped from defeated enemies, meaning that it is in your best interest to constantly switch between attacks and avoid get hits – all in order to reach that sought after Smokin’ Sick Style (SSS) ranking!
Visually Devil May Cry 4 is as polished a game as what you could hope for. Character models are well detailed, special effect are beautiful to behold and the character animations and movement is smooth and shows off all the right visuals. Of course, no Devil May Cry game would be complete without beautifully rendered and often over the top CG cutscenes and I’m pleased to report that DMC4 has these dripping in abundance, complete with those crazy Dante performance that you got used to witnessing the last time round in this particular franchise.
In terms of difficulty, DMC4 is not overly aggressive and will actually dumb down boss characters should you find yourself on a game over screen just one too many times. Also, because the red orb and experience point accumulation is exactly that, accumulated, it means that you’ll keep levelling up even if you keep losing, meaning that eventually you should be able to make your way through to the end. Most of the boss fights are pretty simple to work out and give a decent challenge, but be warned that the final battle has a trick to it that you’ll need to think around in order to beat it (Devil Bringer – it’s all I’m going to say!)
Aurally Devil May Cry 4 delivers the good exactly as what you would expect from a AAA title, featuring a beautiful and haunting soundtrack mixed in with some frenetic and hardcore riffs during the fight scenes. Voice acting is top notch and for the most part there is very little to complain about.
In summary, Capcom’s MT Framework game engine is once again responsible for bringing to life a superb entry in the fast-paced, button bashing and trigger happy hack and slash genre that is difficult to put down and even harder not to enjoy. It is satisfying building up style points, getting good ratings for levels and eventually beating the game. It looks good, sounds good and plays smoothly, making it a firm favourite of mine – in other words, pick it up if you are a fan of this genre… you won’t go wrong! :)
(Just a tip though. In order to unlock the secret game ending cutscene, you need to protect Kyrie and basically ensure she doesn’t take a hit. Not go after the bad guys like I did. Doh!)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_May_Cry_4
The undisputed king of PS2 frenetic-paced action titles without a doubt sits squarely with Capcom’s legendary 2005 release, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening which exploded on the scene and left millions of frustrated gamers on an complete adrenaline rush. One year later and Capcom decides to treat us all by releasing Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening – Special Edition which features a whole lot of new extras plus the chance to play with Dante’s rogue brother Vergil as a main playable character (and at budget price just to make the deal so much sweeter to boot).
Devil May Cry 3 is best described as frantic-paced, high-energy metal that sees you controlling the brash and arrogant Dante, half human and half demon, devil hunter and detective as he attempts to stop his brother’s insane plan of bringing the demon world to Earth while at the same time cut his way through half of Hell itself just to do it. The focus of the game is on unrelenting action and sees you tackle hordes of demons with a wide variety of weapons (both melee and ranged), all instantaneously switchable mid combo just for the hell of it!
The action and fighting is about as fluid as you can get and combined with the upgradeable move set for the various fighting ‘styles’ that you can employ makes for a pretty deep combat experience. There are a number of very detailed and finely connected levels to make you way through, usually battling scores of demons just to get to the other side where you are more often than not presented with some or other fiendishly difficult boss battle to deal with. There are one or two annoying puzzles you get stuck with, a little backtracking and a few infuriating Fight Adjudicators to deal with, but other than those, it is pretty much gun-blazing, sword-slashing action through the good number of hours it will take you to beat this game.
On the story-telling side of things, Devil May Cry 3 has one of those epics stories that reels you in and is jam-packed with intrigue, twists and poignancy and in the end makes for one of those games that stand as tall on the story that they deliver as on the game play that they dish out.
Visually, Devil May Cry 3 comes out on top with extremely detailed and moody backgrounds, fixed cinematic camera angles and extremely stylish and fluid movement animations. The environments themselves although confined in one building are so diverse and styled that you never ever seem to get bored or tired of your surroundings – not that you notice them all that much with the non-stop action flowing around you anyway!
The game is also literally littered with breathtaking cutscenes that makes full use of the exciting Asian choreography and special techniques that makes so many Hong Kong and Japanese action movies stand out above traditional Western offerings.
Of course, even with all the breathtakingly designed characters and backgrounds and the non-stop button mashing, the true genius behind the frenzy that is Devil May Cry 3 is the extremely cleverly picked hard rock/metal soundtrack and scintillating sound effects that propel the pace of the game to a new level. The extreme energy and aggression that comes from the soundtrack is enough to get any gamer’s adrenaline flowing and this heightened aggression is what makes Devil May Cry 3 an even more action-packed adventure that what it should perhaps be.
Another reason for Devil May Cry 3’s massive popularity is its legendary difficulty that was guaranteed to put even the most ardent of gamers through their paces and leave you with a sense of owning the world should you ever actually beat the damn game! Funnily enough, the main reason for this was the rather strange decision to set the initial American release’s normal difficulty level to the Japanese release’s difficult setting and the easy setting became the Japanese’s equivalent normal setting.
For better or worse, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition sets the difficulty level back to the normal setting it was originally meant to be on, meaning that many who haven’t played the original will be left wondering as to why Devil May Cry 3 used to be hailed as one of the most difficult games to get through. Although this reduced difficulty doesn’t take much away from the game as a whole, it does become slightly less rewarding for gamers who clocked the original but thankfully there is still enough added bonuses and extras to make old gamers come back for more.
First off, the most touted extra feature is the ability to play through the game as Vergil, complete with his own set of upgradeable moves and styles. As cool as it is to play with this new character, you can’t help but feel a little cheated when you realise the developer have done nothing more than create the new character and generate his new moves set but then simply tack him into the game and strip the cutscenes to make the story more or less move forward. And if you think you are going to finish the game by fighting against Dante, think again – you’ll simply be fighting a differently coloured clone of yourself I’m afraid.
Secondly, we get a new boss battle tossed into the mix, this time a fight against Jester, though this boss battle is a lot more forgiving than the original bosses that you still need to mix it up against. You do however get to experience this new fight a whole three times during the game, increasing in difficulty with each encounter.
Another major change that has been implemented has quite an effect on the frustration that was the original version, namely the continue system. In the original you needed to buy yellow orbs which could be used to continue with on death, but these orbs quickly became prohibitedly expensive and you pretty much had to replay level after level simply because the tough boss at the end of it wasn’t going to let you have your own way. This time around you can set it that you have unlimited continues which makes for a far smoother and less frustrating trip through to the final battle, something that goes a long way in making this game more accessible to casual gamers.
And then there is all the other bonus material of course. Tons and tons of images to view, alternative costumes, video theatre and soundtrack material to unlock plus a little extra in the form of the Blood Palace, a 9 999 level big play area which pits you in endless combat and is best suited to those DMC3 professionals that want to squeeze the most out of the game.
Overall, the reduced difficulty level and infinites continues structure lessons the impact of this classic title ever so slightly, reducing the personal reward gained in clocking it, however it does make it far more inviting to players new to the Devil May Cry 3 mythos and remains as worthy an action title as what it ever has been. If you are looking for non-stop, heart-pounding action featuring some of the most breathtaking cutscene choreography ever devised combined with some of the toughest boss battles out there, you really can’t go wrong by picking up this legendary title. And at the price it is going for, you would really have to kick yourself if you miss out!
For any non-gamer out there, Capcom’s Devil May Cry is one of the most popular extreme action titles to ever grace the PlayStation 2 and there are currently 4 titles in this hugely successful franchise (the fourth game is in post production for the PlayStation 3). This 12 episode long anime series is produced by the Madhouse Studios and is directed by Shin Itagaki.
The anime details the exploits of the permanently broke and in debt (but always ultra cool) half-human, half-demon Dante as he struggles to make ends meet with the operation of his gun-for-hire business, Devil May Cry. Each episode is annoyingly self-contained and ends up being pretty much the standard demon of the week story, with Dante being challenged by some beastie which he then kills off by the end of the show. The stories are all well told, but the lack of a continuum or an advancing storyline soon becomes very frustrating and leaves Devil May Cry wallowing as a VERY average title.
The writers attempt to be clever and string the last couple of episodes into an arc, tying into the very first episodes story, but to be honest, at this late stage in the show it is a little too late. This is quite a disappointment because with the richness of the Devil May Cry universe, there was more than enough scope to come up with a compelling or richer storyline for this show than just the run of the mill monster-of-the-week formula it degenerated into.
(However, don’t get me wrong, the standalone episodes themselves are all pretty good. Predictable yes, but well executed and all interesting in their own right – perfect fodder for Anime society screenings or something along those lines then.)
In terms of animation quality, Madhouse studios, as per usual, doesn’t disappoint. Although there is a remarkably noticeable difference in animation quality between the opening and last episodes of the series (as always the big budget is spent on the two ends of the series), Devil May Cry screams pure, unadulterated style. The action sequences are fast, fluid and extremely stylish in presentation, following very much in the vein of the cut-scene style from the legendary game series. The demon character models start looking a bit flat and uninspired as the show progresses, but the main characters such as Dante, Lady and Trish never fail to shine.
Note that this is an older-teen orientated show, so there is a fair bit of on-screen violence and gore, particularly towards the end of the series.
Devil May Cry features a very competent voice cast, but it really is the soundtrack that shines above all. Heavy rock riffs feature throughout the show and add to the pace and style of every episode. If you enjoy music with a harder edge, then Devil May Cry certainly wont disappoint.
In summing it all up, to say that I was bitterly disappointed by this show is an understatement. As a fan of the game, the anime was perfectly adequate, just disappointing, while to any other anime fan this show would be pretty much an average affair and lie around on the heap with all the other mediocre titles around. The style and flair which Devil May Cry is known for has been captured well in the anime, but the lack of a cohesive storyline really, really hampers the enjoyment of this show and I can only recommend it being watched one episode at a time, spread over a decent length of time – It simply doesn’t warrant hording all the episodes and then watching everything at once.
Thank goodness it does at least try and save itself from complete ignominy by putting on a great show right at the death of the series, but it is too little too late though, and as much as I hate to say it, Devil May Cry should not be at the top of any anime fans must see list :(
Enjoyable, fun, but stops a long, long way off from being great.
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_May_Cry_%28anime%29