DmC: Devil May Cry Review (360)
The new Devil May Cry game has stirred up so much controversy and rage that it has been almost impossible for gamers to avoid the backlash from many of the changes made to the series iconic front man or the different developer chosen to make the game.
The gauntlet was passed on to Ninja Theory, the developers of both Heavenly Sword and Enslaved as well as one of my much beloved xbox classics, Kung Fu Chaos. It is most certainly a thorny crown to place on such a relatively new developers head and it was natural that a lot of people would be unsettled when they found out the news. But it is most certainly not a bad thing. If anything, this is a great step in the right direction for Ninja Theory at least. Its tough when you are trifling with a cult icon of the hack and slash genre. Everything you do will fall under the worlds largest gaming microscope.
For me DmC is a blast, although I was never Devil May Cry’s biggest fan. It starts off with a rather bold introduction on a strong note that resonates throughout the entire game. Dante is not the try-hard cool guy that we remember. Now he is an anarchist of sorts and approaches most of his life with what can only be described as profanity-ridden reckless abandon. Long gone are the silver locks of the Son of Sparda, and the story begins a new.
The story seems to be a touchy subject depending on who you speak to, but for the most part it is certainly not the Shakespearean work of art promised by the developers (although we should all know better than to believe everything that comes out of an ambitious developer’s mouth, we have been dealing with Peter Molyneux for a good number years after all). The story itself is pretty interesting and captures a more modern vibe than the previous games. The earlier missions leading up to the midway point are definitely the stronger missions in terms of story. The contrast in Dante’s carefree attitude to Vergil’s precise and calculated approach is nice and sets the ground for their torn relationship. There is also the inclusion of a female wiccan of sorts; Kat is her name, and she plays as what appears to be a semi-central love interest for both parties. She comes across as a rather underdeveloped character though whose interactions can feel quite constrained. Mundus is still the main enemy of DmC, but the story is more about the hidden hooks that he and the rest of demon society have nestled in the back of humans in a bid to control and manipulate them to their own means. Strangely though I found myself struggling to understand the war for our humanity as it was only ever detailed as a power struggle that seemed to have very little benefit to the ruler, outwith being able to claim you were the king obviously.
Personally I like the new Dante. He is a breath of fresh air in the icy white haired apocalypse that the predecessors foretold. Although at times he doesn’t come across quite how you would imagine, there are a few nods to the series original style and look including the ironically slow loss of hair colour as the game progresses after Dante very affirmatively states “not in a million years” when slapped with a white haired wig. Dante does feel a lot more in touch with modern times, but it is that type of relatability that might cost the game in the long run as it is a temporary fashion and may not be as relevant in the near future. As far as dialogue goes there are some truly inspired one-liners and off-the-cuff rebuttals from the arrogant star of DmC that were pretty damn funny, but when they came with poor timing or just didn’t quite sound right it could feel very strained and offputting. After hearing the countless number of “FUCK YOU’s!” that Dante dishes out quite liberally, it starts to sound like he is trying to audition for a part in a Limp Bizkit tribute band.
As for the rest of the cast, they are genuinely likeable. Most of them seem relatively coherent and serve their purpose well, but I can’t quite shake one character’s design or exposition in the game, that character being Lilith the mistress of Mundus. Lilith is present as a whore of sorts who appears to be wearing the skin of others. This skin slowly becomes loose during the course of the game to be tightened by a strange contraption on the back of her head. In terms of looks she can range from some run of the mill haggard prostitute you find on the street to a slow melting version of a rather bloated Pete Burns. More often than not it just seemed to drag everything around her down, her dialogue was strained and at times felt very forced. Also, being the star of what I feel to be the worst level in the game makes her even less welcome. Lilith genuinely looks like she was a half developed PS2 polygonal mess and sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison to the ever vibrant breathing environments you find yourself swinging through.
DmC has also cast away a lot of the gothic (and almost Victorian) imagery that ran throughout the majority of the series in favour of a far more vibrant and living atmosphere. Jumping in between Limbo, the real world and the dream world (of sorts), you notice a very significant, unique and vibrant atmosphere from each individual level. For me, the level design was definitely one of the games biggest saving grace. More often then not you are greeted by a living and evolving environment to explore and play in. At times it could be rather linear but I wasn’t expecting an RPG landscape with a million hours to lose myself trying to find a green star. It was all part of a very well thought out design that places you in an array of wonderful and colourful surroundings that are easily distinguishable even as the very floor you stand on warps and shatters as you progress.
The game play is the eye of the storm for the nerd rage focussed on the DmC. It’s certainly not what the fans were expecting, and to that extent I can empathise. It has been toned down and runs at half the original frame rate expected of the series. Complexity and “true skill” have been substituted for flash and the implementation of a far easier set of difficulty levels. But for me that’s not a bad thing. I was never the best at the DMC games and I struggled to do anything impressive and did poorly in the harder difficulty levels to the point I would usually get bored and go play something else, but in DmC I felt compelled to experiment with the weapons to see what was the coolest looking, most widespread and stylish loop I could find to maximise my style points. I didn’t have to worry about cancelling into other moves that much or rely on some insane level of dexterity and practise to pull off some cool combo. I could easily switch between weapons by the press of a few buttons and wire in without too much thought being put into each and every move I used. It suited me perfectly. There are a few times the game did appear to eat my inputs or came across as a bit laggy (as previous moves seemed to be installed in my combos long after I thought I had let go of the triggers) but that was a minor discrepancy in amongst a fair amount of fun and it hardly impacted me that much. What was more frustrating was the initial learning curve of trying to remember what triggers to hold down and when was the best time to use them, but once you have demon evades down and have worked out the best way to tackle the situation it is pretty easy and real good fun.
The soundtrack also compliments Ninja Theory’s direction with the new game. Its not my not to my taste in music, but I did find myself bopping along to a lot of tunes I wouldn’t really listen to otherwise, although at times I do wish they left out some of the vocals in the tracks as it could be rather distracting and grind a little bit when trying to listen for other in game sounds.
In terms of replayability there is a fair amount to do that can be expected of a Devil May Cry game. Countless difficulty levels increasing as you complete the predecessor,in fact to the best of my recollection there isn’t a missing difficulty level, not that I really see myself playing Hell and Hell mode but it’s nice to see it exists. There are countless hidden doors and keys scattered throughout the game that you can’t open until a lot later as well as hidden souls placed throughout almost every level to be freed. What is a bit disappointing is the omittance of the Bloody Palace which is a series staple from DMC2 onwards and I know that a lot of people have been let down by its absence.
With all it’s faults and protesters DmC is a very hard game to give an unbiased opinion of; the astounding levels of hate that come from some of the series original fans is overwhelming and sets the bar very low in terms of expectations. So much so I can’t say that I was expecting much from DmC, even after falling in love with Enslaved I lost my faith in Ninja Theory with the backlash of DmC, and shame on me for doing so. DmC is certainly the best game Ninja Theory have produced to date, there is a clear step up in their game and combat systems, I loved almost every bit of DmC for that alone. It felt that Nt have realised how they want to approach their games and have really found solid footing in DmC, if you don’t treat it as a DMC game. And therein lies the issue, you need to treat it as a separate entity from the Devil May Cry series. The name was a curse bestowed upon Ninja Theory and they have paid for it to an extent. The combat leaves much to be desired for the hardcore fans and the same can be said for the levels of difficulty. But you need to remember these people are probably a minority in terms of your average gamer. So if like me you dabbled in DMC but never quite put it on the pedestal above the rest you will love DmC but if you are currently sitting reading this spraying bile with a red leather coat draped over your shoulders it might be wise to avoid it altogether, or maybe just rent it and put your mind to rest in the knowledge it isn’t quite as bad as you were lead to believe by your peers. So I guess what I am saying is, give it a go it’s definitely worth it. Even if it is just to prove you were right and that the game is awful by your standards. Don’t let others influence your opinion, I almost did and I would have been wrong.
7 over-entitled fanboys (proven wrong) out of 10