Blue Reviews: DMC: Devil May Cry

DmC: Devil May Cry

Release Date:  NA – January 15, 2013
Developer:  Ninja Theory
Publisher:  Capcom
Platforms: PS3, Reviewed on Xbox 360

*Disclaimer – To begin, the original Devil May Cry cemented my decision to purchase a Playstation 2 in lieu of a Sega Dreamcast.  The first time I saw Dante lift a marionette into the air, slice him, shoot him, and slam him to the ground was mind-boggling.  I liked Dante because his flippant attitude combined with fluid combat controls was innovative and entertaining.  I want to dispel the rumor that Devil May Cry fans love hard games.  That is an utter lie. I’m not a masochist and don’t love games that are unnecessarily difficult.  If you stop having fun, change the game.  With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the review.

Capcom has taken a proactive approach to Western development in its games over the past three years.  Lost Planet 2, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Resident 5, Resident Evil Revelations and Resident Evil 6 all delineate Capcom’s deference to Western gaming development hallmarks whether it be with Co-op, customization or versus multi-player.  Ninja Theory, the development house responsible for the Playstation 3 exclusive Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, is the latest development to extend this trend with DmC: Devil May Cry (DmC).

Dante begins the game as a brash, direction-less, late-teens to early twenty-something amnesiac protagonist.  He lives in a world dominated by corrupt politics with all the strings pulled by the mysterious antagonist Mundus ( who reminds me an awful lot of Michael Chiklis).  Dante quickly meets Vergil, the head of the conspiracy group called The Order, who restores his memory.  The Order understands the aforementioned Mundus manipulation and has vowed to free the world.  Vergil and Kat recruit Dante and the story gets underway.

Ninja Theory delivers the story with its hallmark panache.  The graphics engine applies a beautiful and hushed filter to intricately-detailed art design to making DmC captivating.  A somewhat shaky-cam feel complements the presentation to make this game feel as good as it looks.  Performance acting contributes to character movement and voice, making the otherwise staid characters seem authentic, witty, crass, and completely believable. Ninja Theory keeps company with the likes of Naughty Dog and Team Bondi for characterization all while delivering on the best combat this side of Platinum Games’ Bayonetta**.

DmC: Devil May Cry is an action game and this is where it shines.  Dante carries a sword, Rebellion, as his main weapon while pressing LT or RT reveal Angelic or Demonic weapons, respectively.  Dante also possesses three different guns, rounding out his arsenal.  DmC fans panned Enslaved’s combat and extrapolated those concerns onto DmC.  Those concerns were ill-conceived. Capcom visited the Ninja Theory studio house on a weekly basis to ensure that this game feels as fluid and powerful as predecessors.  This investment paid off in spades as the combat is reminiscent of PS2-era Dante.

Juggling enemies combined with pulling Dante toward them and vice-versa leads to ridiculous attack combinations.  The style-reward system is very generous and nets you large rewards at the end of each chapter.  Achievements tied to overall game completion rank encourage replayability as does the Bloody Palace mode present since Devil May Cry 2.  Simply put, the combat puts a smile on your face.

Devil May Cry is accessible.  To many skeptical gamers, the barrier to entry for this series was attributed to its difficulty.  The game offers three levels of difficulty, Human, Devil Hunter, and Nephilim.  I played on Nephilim as that is recommended for previous Devil May Cry players.  Harder difficulty levels unlock as you continue to complete the game on higher difficulty levels.  At no point did I feel cheated or become unnecessarily angry at the game.  Human difficulty offers a more enjoyable experience and offers quick progression through the 9.5 hour campaign.  If you are new to the series, I recommend you begin here.

The first knock against DmC is that Ninja Theory didn’t do anything different.  This game is identical to another game in the series.  I know Ninja Theory had a pedigree to maintain and fans to satiate and it succeeded in both.  However, I still feel as if it could have been more.  The groundwork was so soundly laid that the missed opportunity to present something epic echoes poorly on this grand stage.  Great combat, excellent acting, and consistently interesting presentation build a wall of expectations that leave you feeling a bit empty.  I am unaware of what the Vergil DLC will offer but, odds are, it will not fill that emptiness of expectation.

Secondarily, the soundtrack is not compelling.  I understand that band Combichrist speaks of Demons and evokes the Dante of old however, change it up.  Ninja Theory’s  performance capture shows great characterization and because of this, music is not required to enhance Dante’s punkish self.  I often felt that the music was forcibly inserted into the game. I never felt immersed in the game world and often felt disconnected from key moments.

Nevertheless, DmC: Devil May Cry is as exhilarating as it has always been.  It looks, sounds, and moves better than it has in years.  I expected more from a stellar developer like Ninja Theory but I should not hold a company responsible for my expectations.  DmC entertains in few ways action games can and does so with Stylish flair.  If you want to put down the war simulators and just be entertained, DmC: Devil May Cry is for you.

Get it Scale:  5/5 – Let’s get it!

**Hideki Kamiya, Platinum Games President, created the Devil May Cry series after it was rejected as a concept for Resident Evil 2.  Soon after, he left Capcom and began Platinum Games which developed Bayonetta, a game which many critics believe to be superior to any game in the Devil May Cry series.