Its been three years. Its been three years since a trailer for a new Capcom flashed across everyone's screen. The trailer inexplicably turned out to be a new Devil May Cry game. There was much bewilderment to be had at many of the choices as well as the choice of the developer. Being someone who infinitely values core game play over everything else the thought of the narrative heavy studio over at Ninja Theory taking on one of the most complex character action games was worrying. Yet here I am struggling to finish writing this wanting to go play the game again.
After a rather ludicrous opening sequence in which a large demon attacks a naked Dante (who gets dressed while flying through his trailer) the tone of the game is set. Dante is still largely ridiculous however there is also a depth to the characters that hasn't been seen before in a Devil May Cry game before. The story takes a bit of a page out of They Live. Demons infest the city ruled by the demon king Mundus who controls the populous with a combination of fizzy soft drinks and propaganda with what amounts to a Fox News analog. If you look at that on paper the story sounds extremely dumb. The crazy part of all of this is that DmC actually manages to make this compelling. This is largely in part to the superb acting of the motion and voice actors. It may not be pushing emotional buttons like The Walking Dead did but every time the characters come onto screen you want to pay attention. Ninja Theory isn't afraid to let the action simmer for a bit to allow for personal character arcs to happen. No matter if it is Kat opening up to Dante about her past or Dante meeting his brother Vergil for the first time you want to watch what is happening. The story unfolds over around 20 chapters and while its none too suprising that the team delivered on the story end of things they also nailed the combat as well.
The DMC games are known for their variety of crazy weapons. While DmC doesn't quite deliver on the variety it sure does deliver on making the weapons fun to use. You have your main sword "Rebellion" at all times. The other weapons are broken up into "Demon" or "Angelic" types. Instead of equipping weapons you simply have to hold down a trigger on your controller to transform you weapon into either a demonic or angelic weapon. While the style system from DMC 3 and DMC 4 was scrapped and the overall weapon count is down to 5 (not including guns) what DmC does offer is extreme fluidity in the combat. One sword strike can turn into an demonic axe hit and the next can turn into a swirling angelic scythe. This lets you piece together moves in effortless fashion and look damn cool doing it. The ranking system returns judging you on your combat skills ranging from a lowly "D-Rank" all the way up to the insane "SSS-Rank". The combat is fun and most of all its fair. Enemies all have some tell to them to let you know exactly what they are going to do. Each battle is a learning experience and as time progresses and you experiment combing enemies becomes second nature.
DmC is not a terribly hard game on its default setting of "Devil Hunter" which lets players with a lower skill ceiling be able to have a certain amount of fun with the game. There has never been a better time to jump into the franchise. If you are like me though and want the game to push you to the limit the Son of Sparda, Dante Must Die and the devilishly named Hell or Hell modes are there to give the veteran players something to chew on. Its not just tweaked difficulty sliders either. Enemy placements in Son of Sparda mode are completely changed around. Enemies are not only changed around they also will gain extra attacks and behaviors This leads to an extremely different experience on harder settings. The enemies themselves range from your typical grunts all the way up to hulking monstrosities complete with saw blades for arms. The words "pustular" and "bulbous" are apt terms to describe the horrors of hell that Dante must fight on his journey.
They are a proper reflection of the twisted limbo in which they reside. In most likely the most genious design decision made by the team at Ninja Theory you never actually fight in "the real world" instead if combat is afoot you will get pulled into what is known as "limbo" a twisted alternate version of the world around Dante. This allowed the level designers to go absolutely wild. Warehouses turn into chasms filled with large cargo crates suspended over a bottomless abyss. City streets break and pull apart with levels often reshaping on the fly. Entire buildings rip apart and reform in masses of twisted debris. This allows for some of the most fun platforming in a action game that I've experienced. Dante's angel and demon weapons can also turn into grappling hooks to allow for speedy traversal around these environments. The game also gives good incentives to return to the action after the credits roll. Even if you harder difficulty settings aren't your bag there are plenty of secrets to be found in the levels. In the early stages you'll see many doors and areas you flat out can't get to with your current abilities While the secrets behind all of these areas that are tucked away are usually just a collectible of some sorts its almost always worth peeking your head in for fun.
And while I've gushed for a few paragraphs now there are a litany of issues facing the game that while are troublesome aren't deal breakers. First off , a minor combat squabble is that the auto-targeting sometimes isn't enough. In crowded sections where priority targets are afoot taking them out can be more of a pain than need be especially when you are still trying to find your comfort zone with the combat early on. Secondly, I played the game on Ps3 and I've experienced a number of minor glitches. I booted up a mission once only to not be able to move Dante at all. I've booted up a few missions to have the game not load the enemies or bosses it was supposed too. I've also at least on the PS3 version had a few issues with stuttering audio at after a few loads. Oh, and there will be loads. While the load screens are not as nearly as offensive as some gems like say Sonic the Hedgehog '06 the Ps3 version does have some fairly decent load times to it even with the mandatory install.
That being said, most of these incidents especially the ones with disappearing enemies and the like seem to be extremely random occurrences. There are some bumps in the road for sure but I've never felt this amount of utter joy slashing and smashing baddies in a game in a long while. The visuals combined with a superb soundtrack by Nosia and fantastic combat really allow you to forgive the few technical hiccups that the game has. None of which are game breaking affairs. I don't expect this to be everyone's cup of tea but I urge you to at least give it a try before you make up your mind. If you are looking for a good melee combat game or if your are a longtime fan who is open to some new changes to the series there is something for everyone here. Ninja Theory, you had my curiosity now you have my attention.