January 17, 2013

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

Almost 5 years after the launch of Devil May Cry 4, Capcom gives its beloved franchise to a western developer in hopes of bringing the series to a new generation. With a new visual style, refined combat, and Dante sporting a new look; would Ninja Theory’s experiment work or would it make the devil cry?

 

The game starts as showing Dante being an angry, young adult enjoying his sinful ways in a club, taking home a few “angles” to his trailer. Yes, Dante lives in a trailer, on the pier, in Limbo City. Limbo City is run by demons. Demons control everything from keeping a close eye on the populous, to economic control, to keeping humans sedated to everything going on around them. Mundus heads all of this, the original protagonist from the first Devil May Cry. Dante meets Kat, who is in “The Order”. Ninja Theory has always had either a strong female lead or strong supporting female characters in their current gen efforts and DmC is no different. Kat becomes very important later on. After he meets her the world around him transforms into Limbo it’s self and is hunted by Mundus. Dante meets the head of “The Order” and learns of his past that had been kept from him, so that his parents, Sparda and Eva, could keep him from being hunted. The story becomes more intriguing but never becomes so farfetched or so incoherent that you lose track. It plays out as an origin story to set up a sequel, but it lets us know these characters in the new light Ninja Theory has created. There is plenty of room at the end for a sequel and despite this being a reboot/reimagining there are plenty of hints here and there at the previous four games. In the beginning when Dante is ripped from his trailer and does a good job of getting dressed midflight, lands with a mop top on his head depicting him from the previous games. After he gets a good look at himself, he jokes “never in a thousand years” and heads off. Dante is a bit crass at the beginning of the game but that cocky facade slowly fades over the course of the game leaving a semi-respectable antihero.

 

Gameplay and the combat system is something that has made Devil May Cry since the early PS2 days, emphasis on combo, lightning fast combat hasn’t changed. The frames per second have been downsized to 30FPS instead of the 60FPS the last two titles have enjoyed. Despite the frames being cut in half the combat still feels just as fast and furious. Besides having the staple weapons, ebony and ivory and Rebellion, Dante gets a feast of new weapons and abilities. Mapped to each of the trigger buttons are devil/angel versions of Rebellion. The Devil versions include an ax (Arbiter) and powered fists (Eryx); these weapons are slow but very powerful and offer different combo techniques per weapon. The angelic weapons, a scythe (Osiris) and a pair of blades (Aquila), are very quick but also light on the power. The game does a good job of making you use the specific weapons outside of combos with enemies representing fire and ice. There are also two whips for each side to traverse the ever changing terrain. The red/devil one can pull out new platforms when directed and the angel/blue one acts more of a grapple hook more mobility when directed. The platforming is solid, but I felt underwhelmed by the lack of a shadow for Dante. While it made the platforming more challenging it was also harder to judge some jumps and could become frustrating. The camera is great but sometimes can get in the way of combat; I lost Dante a few times in a corner but it wasn’t anything detrimental to the game. The game is built on the engine I love so very much; Unreal 3, which if you didn’t get the sarcasm, can be a polished turd. There was one instance that I had revert back to a check point due to a flying enemy getting stuck on some geometry and couldn’t get around it. One of the boss fights failed to continue until I jumped off a platform and rest the sequence. Now this could be a big deal but I have seen it in other Unreal powered games (Mirror’s Edge, Mass Effect, Rainbow Six: Vegas, etc) and have purposely tried to break them to see if I could, with varying degrees of success, so DmC isn’t alone in that category. I would feel like I wasn’t doing my job if I docked it points because of something Epic had never addressed in their engine. I am here to critique the game not the engine, but I thought I would warn you there is a possibility of these things.

With a new game we get new voice actors and new music. Reuben Langdon does not reprise his role of Dante; Tim Phillips (an Australian born actor) takes over the role. Phillips does a great job of being a crass anti-hero and never falls out of his American accent unlike Sam Worthington in Black Ops. All of the voice acting is excellent but some of the dialog is a bit cringe worthy. There is a particular boss that Dante has an F-you contest with that seems like it was written by an angry 12 year-old. The soundtrack was done by Noisia, a Dutch electronic trio. Noisia has done music for other games such as some of the more recent Wipeout entries, DJ Hero, and SSX. Norwegian aggrotech band, Combichrist, also added some tracks to the soundtrack. The electronic scream rock feels right at home with the setting, fast combat, and Mohawk sporting Dante. Noisia has put their compilation of over three hours of music out on an official soundtrack and is nothing short of epic.

So referring to my question above, has Ninja Theory’s experiment worked? Yes, yes it has. Despite Dante looking like he fell out of a Hot Topic sponsored rave, the game is very much Devil May Cry with all the little nuances of previous Ninja Theory titles. If there is one thing Ninja Theory has proven over the years is that they can take a good design concept, God of War (Heavenly Sword) and Prince of Persia (Enslaved), and make it their own. DmC doesn’t fall away from the formula that made the series popular in the beginning; it has a new coat of paint, some epic new beats, and a nice new perspective on Dante’s origins. I played through the game on the hardest difficulty unlocked from the get go (Nephilim) and clocked in around 9 to 10 hours. I only found a few of the hidden doors that lead to challenge rooms (which are also accessible from the main menu) and there are plenty of unlockable difficulties remixing enemy waves and making the game much more difficult. There are leader boards that your scores are uploaded to after each level and there is always room for improvement. For all the hoopla that went around when the new Dante was showed off this is a great game that proves that the series is in great hands. If you’re a fan of the series or of action games or eyeliner, give the game a shot it deserves the attention.

 

Pros.

+ Uber Stylish

+Limbo is beautiful

+ Combat is better than ever

+ The soundtrack is fantastic

+ Ninja Theory nuances, like a strong female character

+ Despite the hate, I like the new Dante

 

Cons.

– It can be a bit brass and crude at times

– Enemy variety is a bit lacking

– Platforming can be iffy

– Camera can be a pain in a few spots

 

Score 9/10

 

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

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