Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review #307: DmC - Devil May Cry

 Just cry already, dammit!
 This game never really had a chance, did it? As soon as Dante's redesign was revealed, fans got up in arms, and they wouldn't let Ninja Theory hear the end of it. Many of them argued that 'it's not just about the hair'... but isn't it really?

 First, Story and Characters... it's gonna be a while. This game was meant to be a reimagined reboot, so everything's almost completely different. The premise resembles the movie 'They Live', were people are being controlled by propaganda, this time by demons, and the bad guy also uses debt to control everyone. It's not a novel idea, but it's been rarely used in videogames in this way before. I liked the story, Devil May Cry has never, ever had a good story and it made up for that with cool. You saw cool characters doing cool stuff and that was the end of it, and it didn't really matter, because story was never the main draw. What isn't good, and it's something you'll realize during the opening cutscene, is that the dialogue isn't very good. It's funny, because the audiovisual presentaton nails the look they were going for perfectly, very reminiscent of those old 90s action movies like The Crow, and somewhat like the opening scenes of the first Highlander film. But the dialogue comes across as if its trying to hard to be dark and edgy, at times it feels cringeworthy and forced.
 A lot of criticism has been leveled towards new Dante, mostly because he is a 'douchebag'. And he is. Towards his enemies, that is. Y'know, kinda like old Dante. Remember when Rudra and Agni offered their help, and Dante responded by 'No talking', and then smashing their heads because one of them did? Or how about when Lady asked him if he had killed her father, and his answer was 'What if I did?'. Dante's always been a dick towards his enemies. And this Dante cares about his allies, he cares about Kat and even asks her about her past, he cares about her when she is about to get captured. He cares about Vergil, his brother, even when they don't see eye to eye. This Dante hates demons, but when he sees one being harassed by other demons he goes to help him, and then Dante asks him to take him to a certain place, which the demons answers 'I'll help you if you help me first.'. Dante doesn't complain, doesn't hurl insults back, he hears him and helps him. Does this Dante seem like a dick to you? He isn't much more of a dick than Dante, the same Dante that cracked a joke in DMC 4 after Sanctus started laying death and destruction. Something that Sanctus was only able to do because Trish decided it would be a good idea to give them Sparta. But maybe being a dick is only OK if old Dante and his pals do it. And when it comes down to it, Dante has had THREE different personalities already, who's to say that this isn't Dante either? There was a lot of complaints about a joke, when a white wig falls on Dante's head and he says 'not in a million years', some even claiming that this was NT's way of saying 'Our Dante is better than yours'... it's just a joke, particularly considering that, spoilers, Dante's hair ends up white anyways.

 Combat is like a simpler version of previous games. The skill barrier is set lower, not to say that the moveset is limited in anyway, just that making and maintining SSS combos is incredibly easy. On previous games, your combo rank would decrease over time, not anymore, now it only decreases if you get hit. Plus, repeating the same moves over and over again do increase your rank, although at diminished returns. There's plenty of finger gymnastics involved if you want to create combos, but there's a ton of options. Triangle, by itself, uses Rebellion, the sword, and circle performs an enemy launcher. But holding L2 when pressing either will make Dante attack with an Angelic weapon, or holding R2 allows him to use Demonic weapons. There's two of each, and you can switch them on the fly by using the directional pad. Basically, doing large, varied combos is very, very simple, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And it looks cool to boot, as cool as 30 fps allows anyways. It doesn't end there, Dante can use fire arms with Square, or combine it with either L2 or R2 to produce two different chains, one that pulls enemies towards him, and another that pulls him towards enemies, not unlike Nero! I can't stress this enough, there's a ton of different moves and possibilities with the combat system.
 The one thing I did find annoying was the lack of a targeting button. Let's be honest here, the lock-on reticule was serviceable on previous games, but it was there and it was helpful. There's no such thing here. And enemies require different strategies here. Some will have attacks bounce right off them unless using either a demonic or an angelic weapons. Others can't be approached haphazardly since they have super armor on, there's winged enemies that are best dealt with by shooting at them, to break their wings, and then pulling them towards you. There's even shielded enemies! So the combat is not mindless, although much easier than previous games, and a lock-on feature would've done wonders for the game. Plus, as much as I liked so many options in combat, sometimes it's easy to get confused, since there's so many different button combinations,

 Which shows mostly during the platforming sections in the game. These are deceptively simple, 'cause you see, you might have to pull, with the demon chain, objects towards your path, or grapple through certain blue orbs by using the angelic chain. It's not hard to mess up the inputs. That said, these sections look complex, but they are very easy and require little thought put onto them. Jump, jump, maybe do an air dash, pull something, air dash, grapple, air-dash, land, rinse and repeat. They are very mechanics once you properly remember which combinations gets which chain out. Previous games had a small, but existent, exploration element to them. There's none of that here, but, you are free to explore, which will net you keys to open doors(that must also be found!) in order to access different challenges, for health and devil trigger upgrades.
 Thankfully, the game borrows the best additions from DMC 4: Red orbs and White orbs are different currencies, both are earned by scoring high combos and mission rankings though. Doesn't stop there, just as with DMC 4, white orbs are used to buy moves, which can be refunded as well. Even better, the store shows you a preview video and lets you try them out before you buy them. It might be a bit too much for the system though, scrolling through the different moves makes it feel as if the game is choking, and, as a matter of fact, the game froze on me once while buying moves!!

 The level design is alright. It's made up of a lot of cyans, oranges and blacks, and that's about everything you'll see. It's mostly urban environments, which I guess makes sense according to the story the game wants to tell, but it does make for a bit of staleness. That said, there went a lot of creativity towards certain sections, namely, the boss fight against the news anchor, which is probably the most memorable part in the game, as well as a rather cool sequence in which you must protect Vergil and Kat's car, by pulling and pushing objects around it. It's much cooler than what it sounds like. The game lasts about 6-7 hours, and sadly there's not much in the way of unlockables. There's about 4 difficulty settings, a must for any DMC game, including some rather creative ones, where Dante dies in one hit!
 It may not look like a Devil May Cry game, but it feels like one and that's what matters. There's little things, like how Dante fights like a mixture between old-Dante and Nero. He can pull enemies towards him, like Nero, and even gets his aerial Roulette attack. He also gets Dante's Stinger and Million Stab attack, even the Stinger-to-Million stab move! Remember the Shotgun-fun move Dante had in Gunslinger style? New Dante gets it as well, and there's even a punchy weapon that allows you to charge any of its attacks. This may be a slight spoiler for those new to the franchise, but you get to fight Vergil and... my god, the way he fights is so similar to how he fought in DMC 3. It feels like an alternate take on that fight, as a matter of fact, this game is what it was meant to be: An alternate take on Devil May Cry.

 Do I prefer new Dante over the old one? Nope, the old one is so ridiculously funny that's impossible not to love. But I believe that both series could co-exist, kinda like Marvel's Earth 616 and the Ultimate universe. I want to continue seeing how this story unfolds as much as I want to see Nero and Dante go on. Because it's an alternate take on characters I like, because I can have both characters coexisting without throwing a fit. Because while this game could've accommodated for new and old players alike, like DMC 4 did with Nero, who could do massive damage with few hits, but if you wanted to delve deeper there was always mastering the EX gauge, and Dante, for returning players that wanted to style, instead of pandering mostly to new players, with it's easy average difficulty and easy combos, it's a fun game on its own right.
 8.0 out of 10

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