DmC: Devil May Cry was announced at The Tokyo Game Show in 2010 and the overall impression was largely negative. That’s understating it… by a lot. Dante looked different, a lot different. He was smoking, he looked like a meth head, and he had shorter black hair. To add insult to injury the game was not being developed by Capcom this time around. British based game developer, Ninja Theory was at the helm (Capcom wanted a western studio to work with the franchise) and their previous games are often criticized for being geared more towards story and narrative, not gameplay.
This was a major cause for concern for many Devil May Cry fans because Devil May Cry is all about the gameplay. However the first complaints were not about that. They were largely about Dante’s lack of white hair, change of style, personality and heritage. He wasn’t the same character. He was not the same Dante.
However, style, was something Ninja Theory executed in flying colors. Enslaved and Heavenly Sword were both visually stunning games with well realized stories and great dialogue but they faltered in the combat department due to the lack of depth. Could Ninja Theory succeed in making a proper Devil May Cry game? That was the question everybody wanted the answer to, and come January 15th we gave the verdict.
DmC: Devil May Cry is a reboot, a re-imagining of Dante and his origin story. This is not the same Dante that was in earlier Devil May Cry games and it’s important to make that distinction. The plot opens up with Mundus, The Demon King and the main antagonist, talking with the President via cellphone. Before the conversation is over, you are guaranteed to dislike Mundus. You might even hate him a little. This works well, with him being the villain but being introduced to Dante brings up the same emotions. He is a douche simply put. While a concern at first, Dante develops into a likeable character as he learns about his past and vows to protect the people who believe in him. One of them being Kat, the other being Dante’s twin brother, Vergil.
Kat is a human girl that works for The Order. She aids Dante, often travelling with him to the battlefield and using her magical items to bring Dante in and out of Limbo. Limbo is a different dimension which exists parallel to the human city, Limbo City. Limbo is where all of Dante’s battles take place because this is where the Demon’s reside and have power. While Dante is battling in Limbo, his brother, Vergil, fights Mundus politically in Limbo City using The Order, an organization he founded and funded. He does this by making internet videos (highly reminiscent of Anonymous) which show the truth behind the Demons and how they control humanity by feeding us inaccurate news and giving us unhealthy food to keep us docile.
It’s obviously done to in light of the recent “99% vs 1%” issue which makes Dante’s battle more relatable.Ninja Theory’s handling of Dante’s story should be commended. It knows when it needs to be serious or silly. Characters are written well, especially Dante. You really get to see him develop into another person as he learns to do things for others, not just himself. The brother dynamic between Dante and Vergil is well done and they play off each other in contrasting ways; Dante is very figurative in his speech while Vergil is very literal. Dante will also have you laughing at his various quips towards his allies and enemies. He still knows how to be funny.
Unfortunately there is also a feeling of disappointment. Sometimes the writing feels too heavy handed or juvenile which makes it lose some of its consistency. Vergil is underused and I would have liked to see more of him in the game. DmC also suffers from a few pacing issues, especially right around the middle where things seem to drag on. I also believe Ninja Theory were tied down to a few of the older characters to really make it something new. The plot in itself feels very clichéd, and I wanted to see something more original and insightful come from the desk of Ninja Theory’s writers’. I wanted the game to leave me with something to think about after I was done but that did not happen.
While the initial complaints were about Dante’s appearance, the latter complaints were targeted more towards the combat and gameplay. Devil May Cry run’s at 30 frames per second. The previous games ran at 60 frames per second. This was a problem. A video game that runs at 60 frames per second offers more responsive controls and increases the speed of the game. A fighting game set at 30 frames per second can work but it needs to maintain that frame rate and offer no slowdowns. Luckily for us, the games does maintain its 30 fps average which results in a smoother gameplay experience compared to Ninja Theory’s older games, which often suffered from frame rate issues. It’s not as perfect as series past but it gets the job done better than you might think. Also, the PC version of the game can run at 60 fps so check that one out if that is very important to you.
DmC does very interesting things with its combat and makes it fun and challenging. Dante can now wield Angel and Demon weapons and switch between them and his sword, Rebellion, on the fly. Both Angel and Demon weapons offer a different way to chain together combos; Angel weapons are more based around crowd control while Demon weapons are used for taking down a stronger enemy. While the new weapons are a blast to use, I found myself gravitating towards the more Angelic side of things rather than Demonic. A weapon called the Aquila, which is available later on, might possibly be one of the best weapons in Devil May Cry history. Really…it is that amazing.
The Angel and Demon weapons also bring another advantage that helps Dante reach his enemies faster. Demon Pull and Angel Lift. Using these new abilities Dante can either bring an enemy towards him or he can pull himself towards one. This works really while juggling an enemy in the air and maintain air time, it also helps get to an enemy quickly to quickly put an end to whatever attack it might be charging. However the Angel and Demon weapons also bring a few problems. First off, there is slight control lag when you switch between both Angel and Demon weapons. It just takes a bit too much longer than I would have liked to and that does interrupt whatever combo I have going. Also, the introduction of Angel Lift and Demon Pull does make your pistols, Ebony and Ivory, a bit obsolete until you get more ranged weapons such as the Shotgun. Everybody should try to juggle an enemy with a shotgun…it just looks so badass! If you are having trouble getting some combos down, the game also includes a training room which allows you to test out any new weapon or moves you have unlocked.
Enemies in the game are highly varied and make a good use of Dante’s arsenal. Some enemies require specific strategies such as knocking out a shield before you can damage them. There is a point in the combat when everything just works and that becomes clear when you are zipping around from enemy to enemy to dish out some moves and then moving to another one to do the same. But that point is broken when the game introduces colored enemies which require you to use either an Angel or Demon weapon exclusively. This breaks up the flow of the combat because it restricts the type of combos you can create. The lack of Lock-On was something I was concerned about but the auto Lock-On does a serviceable job of knowing which enemies you want to target. It flubs up sometimes but it’s not too big of a problem.
Similarly, while DmC’s bosses look interesting most of them aren’t too much fun to fight. They are just too formulaic and telegraphed for them to offer any depth. Hit a weak spot and dodge a couple of attacks – rinse and repeat. Even one of the finalbosses just ends up being a rehash of one of the earlier ones. It’s not that these bosses are bad; it’s just that they aren’t as great as what the series has done in the past.
Ninja Theory wanted to improve the platforming sections and boy did they deliver on that front. Gliding in the air and chaining Demon Pull and Angel Lift towards specific points in the environments works well within the type of game DmC is. You won’t be getting Mario levels of platforming but that’s alright. The traversal elements in the game offer a break from the combat and let you cool down your engines. It’s also nice to see that they have gone away with boring puzzles and back tracking in this game. Seriously, why did the older games have this? Although the environments are more linear this time around, the developers did managed to hide secret rooms and other collectibles in the game.
DmC: Devil May Cry is a very pretty game. There is no doubt about that. The environments are stellar and the animations and cut scenes are highly detailed. The greater emphasis on the art this time around was made possible due to the developers sticking with the 30 frames per second so it’s nice to see that pay off. Dante’s new design was however blasted and was often called “emo.” Was it because of the hair? I don’t know, his hair doesn’t look emo at all. Infact I could argue that the previous Dante’s hair is more in line with the emo style. I do like Dante’s new design better than his previous one because it seems more practical. It works with his character, a poor, and good for nothing kid who lives in a trailer. He’s not over dressed like the Dante in DMC4.
The environments, particularly, the ones when you are in Limbo are breathtaking. They are colorful and have a lot going on. The levels change and shift around as Dante travels through them which keep things from becoming stale. Some of the latter levels really push the art direction in some stellar ways. In contrast the environments that exist in the real world are drab, boring and lack any sort of color. They almost look like they came out of Gears of War.
Ninja Theory is pretty much known in the video games industry for its focus on facial animations and cut scenes and it remains true here. Characters move and speak realistically which makes you care for the characters a little bit more. Voice acting is top notch and really sells us on the characters. Dante’s actor did a great job with the character; developing him as the story progressed and the game went along and so did the rest of the cast. The cut scenes are also directed pretty well with nice cinematography which highlights the action pretty well. They cut scenes also flow in and out of the gameplay nicely and it rarely feels like control is ever taken away from you.
However I do wish that the user interface was better designed in terms of the way it looks. It just seems very amateurish with the grungy look it is going for. It doesn’t mesh well with the action on the screen and that was one of the main presentation issues that stuck out for me. The music in the game is there and it works well but ends up being ultimately forgettable. It’s not something I would put on my phone and listen to on the train. The music serves the game and that’s all it does.
While Dante might look and talk different it’s good to see that he can still kick the same amount of demon ass. DmC: Devil May Cry strongest aspect can easily be its gameplay which is something of a surprise considering Ninja Theory’s track record. Injecting new life to the Devil May Cry franchise was something they were tasked with and they did a great job with it. However it should be noted that the game does not best previous Devil May Cry games in its combat design (DMC4). Despite that, DmC still brings something new to the table with stronger focus on narrative and other gameplay elements such as platforming. So is DmC: Devil May Cry a proper Devil May Cry game? I think it is, if you are a fan of the series, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself by not checking this out.
The PC version of DmC: Devil May Cry is the superior version – granted you have a controller and a decent computer. The first big difference is the ability to play the game in 60 FPS or higher (it’s a better idea to turn VSYNC ‘ON’ for a more stable frame rate). This has a direct effect on the way the game is played; making it a much smoother and faster experience. Ninja Theory has also added extra graphic options exclusive to the PC version which include higher-res textures, shadows, and stronger anti-aliasing. There’s also the added benefit of setting the resolution higher which results in a cleaner image. It’s a strong port, and easily the best way to enjoy DmC.
However there is a little nit-pick I have. The pre-rendered cut scenes are natively rendered in 1280×720 (720p) and in 30 FPS. This makes it a bit jarring whenever the game switches to a pre-rendered cut scene because the image isn’t as clear due to resolution size, there’s a bit of compression artifacts that are also visible but mainly the speed doesn’t remain consistent. Also, play the game with a controller; I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to play the game without it. I personally used the XBOX 360 wired controller and it works great.