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Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: 'DmC: Devil May Cry' - I Like It Rough

I'm not going to lie. The first hour or so of Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry left me less than impressed. Dante felt shallow and uninspired, the graphics were sub-par, and worst of all the story to that point felt plucked from a book of one-liners.

That's when +Bryan Cole gave me some great advice: look for something positive rather than focus on the negative. Maybe, just maybe, that positive thing will be enough to make you notice the greatness within.

While I may have written what he said to me in a slightly more colorful manner, the message was the same. I'm just glad he said that to me because 8 hours and 24 minutes later, with the end credits rolling, I can honestly say Devil May Cry is one of the more fun games I've played this generation.

The story is rather simple. You play as Dante (no shit, right?) as you try to avenge your mother's death. You team up alongside your twin brother Vergil, meet up with a few other characters, and ultimately decide the fate of mankind. 

I don't like writing about the story to a game because there are inevitable spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.

The thing about Devil May Cry is that the story really isn't anything great. Honestly, it's fairly bland, adding nothing all that new to the classic revenge story. It's not the story that makes DmC such a great game. It's a combination of Dante's demeanor - in large part due to Tim Phillips' excellent voice work - and the combat.

From the opening moments of DmC you are punched in the mouth with Dante's apathetic attitude. He really just doesn't give a shit (to put it lightly). Nothing that is going on around him phases him, and when things actually do get in the way he handles them with one-liners, sarcasm, and a swift death. It's exactly how I imagine myself to act if I were a demon slayer.

Though I realize I would most likely just run and hide...

Boss battles are unforgettable simply due to the dialogue that takes place within them. One scene in general comes to mind, involving Dante and a certain boss screaming "Fuck you!" back and forth to one another. This is of course immediately following a slur of profanities involving disgusting acts the boss plans on doing with Dante's dead body, an invitation to prom, and a remark about being too clingy.

Then there's the combat. The beautiful, crisp, nearly perfectly created combat. While it may not be as in-depth as previous Devil May Cry games, it's one of the best in its genre to date. You are given several "Angel" and "Demon" weapons, each of them mapped to a directional button and triggered by either the right or left trigger.

For example, if you'd like to wreak some havoc with the Arbiter, select it by pressing right on the d-pad then holding down the right trigger. You now have light and heavy attacks with the Arbiter, along with a few attack tweaks such as grab and pull. This goes for both Angel weapons and guns as well. 

Nearly every enemy is vulnerable to each weapon, with a few special enemies requiring attacks from a certain category. Demon weapons are great for breaking shields, while Angel weapons have incredible AoE and crowd control. +Roger Hansen couldn't get enough of the Aquila, a set of shuriken-like projectiles that would slice through mobs faster than Edward Scissorhands in a zombie apocalypse.

What's truly impressive about this combat system is that while there are quite a few buttons mapped to specific actions, it's never entirely overwhelming. In fact, once you understand the situation and learn the moves you can absolutely destroy a group of enemies. The only time you will die in Devil May Cry is when you yourself make a mistake. 

Or when you overestimate the distance of a platform and jump over it.

My point is that death from combat in Devil May Cry is rarely ever due to the game mechanics themselves. It's because you screwed up. No need to throw the controller and scream at Ninja Theory. Instead, learn the moves, unlock a few new ones if you have to, and try again. Trust me when I say that the large move list and crisp combat is there to help you, not hurt you.

Yes, Devil May Cry by Ninja Theory hasn't been so greatly received from the hardcore DmC fans out there. Yes it's slightly dumbed down, especially in the combat field. Yes, Dante has dark hair now. Does that make this game not an absolute thrill ride worth exploring?
Absolutely not. What Ninja Theory has created is a new entry in the Devil May Cry saga. While it may be different, it's also certainly welcome. There's nothing wrong with change when it's done correctly. In this case, I'm very happy with the new direction and incredibly excited for its future.

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