Quick Look: Devil May Cry

Brad's looking for a soul to steal, and this one is just too good to pass up.

Drew Scanlon on Google+
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Giant Bomb Review

1094 Comments

DmC Devil May Cry Review

5
  • X360
  • PS3

The character action genre hasn't been this stylish or crazy in a good long while.

There's enough combat variety here to support multiple playthroughs.

The reborn Devil May Cry from Ninja Theory exemplifies what it is to really get down in the dirt and reimagine a hallowed franchise from the ground up, bringing back only the broadest character traits and relationships but leaving behind everything else about the old that gets in the way of creating a singular, cohesive new. Names like Dante, Vergil, and Mundus return, but the world they inhabit and the roles they play out are only passingly similar to what you knew of them before. Everything in this new game exists in service of making it a great game in its own right, not in stoking your nostalgia for the games you played over the last decade. As a character action game, it hits all the notes--fast, robust action, marvelous visual style, and a tremendous sense of attitude--you could want in this type of game.

To be fair, on paper, everything about Devil May Cry sounds like the tritest video game pap: a bloody war between angels and devils, endless hordes of demonic enemies straight from your favorite '80s heavy metal album art, and all of it punctuated by Scandinavian "hellektro" outfit Combichrist's thudding soundtrack. And then there's Dante, remade in the image of a club-kid layabout who's so sneeringly self-satisfied he defies any attempt you might make to identify with him. I pretty much went into the game consciously expecting to hate all of this, or at least view it as the sort of eye-rolling embarrassment video games are usually so good at delivering.

Then, oddly, I started feeling a guilty pleasure at how much I was actually enjoying the spectacle. Then later I gave up the guilt and just flung myself wholeheartedly into the cyclone of nonsense. I think it became easy to like Devil May Cry because it seems somewhat aware of itself; the game is so damn committed to having fun with its absurdity, you can't help having fun along with it. Dante may be a smirking wiseass, but his lines are witty enough and delivered with so much panache, you quickly grow to like him anyway. And he makes a great foil for his brother Vergil, who's more of an uppity, refined ideologue fighting the good fight against the demons. Dante talks a constant stream of shit to Vergil and just about anyone else who gets in his way, and there's something uncomfortable and a little dissonant about a 50-foot ancient grub-demon screeching "FUCK YOOOOOUUUUU!!!" right back at him. The best sort of dumb fun is the kind that knows how dumb it is, and I consistently got the sense from Devil May Cry knew that the entire time I was playing it.

When acting is required, it's amazing how effective real actors can be.

The game also knows when to rein it in, though. After the dramatic triumph of Ninja Theory's last game, Enslaved, it shouldn't surprise you that I'm back to devote another paragraph to the characters' performances in this game, which do so much to sell what, again, probably should have been a complete joke of a storyline. Where Enslaved had a lot of heart, Devil May Cry offers an equal amount of middle finger, but it still manages to lend an appreciable level of gravitas and some occasional poignance to its tale of saving the world from demons who have enslaved the human race with... soda. As before, the success at selling you on the plot simply comes down to all the subtle eye movements and shoulder shrugs and skilled line reads that add up to real, believable performances, the kind of thing you get when you go into a performance-capture facility and fill it with people who can, you know, act. That the characters here do so much to uplift Devil May Cry's ridiculous premise is a testament to both the capability of performance-capture technology and Ninja Theory's use of it.

Lest we forget this is also a video game: Devil May Cry is in fact a greatly entertaining character action game, as fast-paced and diverse as I could have wanted. The game starts you off with Dante's familiar sword and dual pistols, but you quickly start to collect angel and demon weapons, which fill light and heavy attack categories respectively. Switching between melee weapons, and the three firearms you end up with, just takes a tap of the d-pad. You only have a single attack button which wields your sword by default, and you switch to the equipped angel or devil weapon instantly by holding the left or right trigger and hitting that same button. The game finds a lot of interesting ways to make you stay on your toes, with enemies that only fully coalesce when one type of weapon is equipped, or floors that will hurt you if you aren't holding the same-colored weapon. More importantly, if you're quick enough, it's possible to involve three, four, or five different weapons in a single combo, and the game is constantly running a tally on the side of the screen rating how stylishly you're fighting, all the way up to triple-S.

The more style you rack up, the more new abilities and moves you can unlock (from a list of dozens), and since you lose a couple of letter grades every time you get hit, you're really incentivized to play as cleanly as possible. The combat isn't overwhelmingly hard on the default difficulty, though it isn't a cakewalk, but if you're really serious about this kind of game, play it on hard from the outset. There are another four difficulty levels waiting for you to unlock them after that. The game is built to be replayed repeatedly; you can jump back into any mission on any difficulty whenever, and there are plenty of places you just can't access without the right abilities the first time through. All of your completion totals get rated and slapped onto leaderboards if you want to keep up with how your friends are doing. In short, the between-mission trappings, the glue that holds the levels themselves together, feel thoroughly modern in this game.

The inventive visual and level design just keeps on coming.

Since all the action takes place in a demonic mirror world called Limbo, the designers get to go wild with the sorts of places you're fighting in, and the game is constantly turning your expectations (and the levels) upside down by placing you in skewed, exploded, or otherwise deconstructed versions of city streets, mansions, night clubs, and a few more unlikely environments I'll leave to you to discover. While this sort of level design has started to feel a little played out since games like American McGee's Alice made it popular ages ago, I was constantly surprised and delighted by the sheer, over-the-top inventiveness of the levels in this game. There's also a degree of grappling-hook-style traversal, and a few creative moments that emphasize the relationship between Limbo and the real world, that make the game feel like more than a constant stream of enemy encounters. And the game is absolutely awash in dazzling visual presentation. I won't go too deep into that, because it's better absorbed firsthand, but the broad and ever-changing color palette, the ways the level geometry explodes and deforms around you, the titles and overlays that pop up on the screen to enhance the action, all combine to make this game a great venue for its artists to display their talents.

I brought no personal baggage to Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry, having played and enjoyed the original game way back when but then steering clear of the series after its poorly received second entry. Whether you're a longtime fan (with an open mind) or a total newcomer just looking for a solid character action game, it's hard to imagine anyone feeling overly dissatisfied with this new game. It's almost wholly successful at what it tries to do, and seems like the start of a promising new direction for what was otherwise a nearly forgotten franchise.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
1094 Comments
Posted by coribald

...what'd I miss?

Posted by happypup70

@Alkaiser: A reviewer cannot be held responsible for how their opinion of a game changes after they publish their static review of that game. A review encapsulates a moment in time for the reviewer. It should only pertain to the reviewers experience from the moment they first press play to the moment the last revision is done.

Posted by Hef

This is why nobody takes the video game medium seriously. This entire comment section is full of children. It's one persons opinion on a game. Holy shit.

Posted by AnEternalEnigma

@Creamypies said:

@illmatic19 said:

I hope you Devil May Cry fans never get the game you want. You don't deserve it.

Agreed. Capcom did the right thing with this franchise. It was dead in the water after the fourth game. So they freshened it up, gave it a new set of legs and a new head of hair. It was the only way to keep DmC relevant and more importantly, alive. Don't hate change, it can often be for the better.

Uh, how the fuck was it dead in the water? DMC4 was the highest-selling game in the franchise.

Posted by EnduranceFun

@AnEternalEnigma: There is also such a thing as bad change.

Posted by ELpork

Ha, Ohhh internet... It's Killzone 2 all over again. Remember how important that game was?... NO!?... why am I not shocked.

Posted by PrinceRhaegar

Wait hang on, people give a shit about Devil May Cry? DEVIL MAY CRY?!

.....

...AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

fuck the haters, i love the look of this game. DMC never looked better.

Posted by King9999

That last paragraph is troubling, the part about Brad not playing DMC3 or 4. DMC3 is widely considered to be the best in the series.

And the DMC series wasn't "dead in the water," to whoever said that.

Posted by GnomeonFire

@EnduranceFun:Well it's not like the old games are going anywhere.

Posted by AlexanderSheen

I wish GFW Radio was still alive, because most of the comments here are premium Heroes of the Web material.

Like this one:

Posted by Dirk_Dexter

Now I really want Brad to review Metal Gear Rising Revengeance.

Posted by defcomm

I'm still a part of #teambrad!

Posted by rulerofeden

I tried to get into DMC4, but there was just something about it that turned me away. Not sure if it was the difficulty (I'm not great at games) or the crazy complexity, it just wasn't really for me.

This new one looks pretty good. I might pick it up when I get the money to do so.

Also, QQ moar comment section.

Edited by Rahxephon91
@GnomeonFire: Nope, it's more like it's in jeopardy if we are going to get more games like them.
Posted by KikReask

I've not played the other games completely much but aside from Devil May Cry 2, I thought they were alright, but I wasn't really a fan. Yet it puzzles me why people look at this with blind hate and won't accept a different opinion. I mean yes I prefer Dante with white hair and yes Capcom have made a lot of mistakes recently but, this doesn't look like a game that's worth hating over.

Posted by Redhorn

@ZeroV2 said:

This game is a disgrace to the Devil May Cry series

The awesomely complex and intricate combat systems from the other DMC games (barring 2) was thrown out of the window in favor of a casualized and totally simplistic brain dead turd. Not only that but it's obvious that Dante is essentially Tameem masturbating via video games

I wish someone with an actual interest in the DMC series could have reviewed this and given it a score that reflects the obvious steps back in quality that this series has suffered.

lol. this post.

Posted by Redhorn

I enjoyed the previous Devil May Cry games. Glad to hear the new one is good too. :)

Posted by EnduranceFun

@King9999 said:

That last paragraph is troubling, the part about Brad not playing DMC3 or 4. DMC3 is widely considered to be the best in the series.

And the DMC series wasn't "dead in the water," to whoever said that.

Yup

Posted by hengyulim

Game is okay, but giving a 10/10 to this kind of game.... It's like all of GiantBomb's credibility is lost to me =(

Posted by scarycrayons

@hengyulim: They didn't give it a 10/10. They gave it five stars, which means 'it's a really great game'.

Posted by Pop

oh wow, I like how angry people are. Yes more tears more! MORE! I must have all the tears to drink!

Posted by LukewarmGravity

Man, Devil May Cry fans always baffle me with how angry they can get. Remember when DMC4 was announced for the 360? That was a massive shit-storm too.

Posted by fisk0

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

Okay Brad, picking this up tomorrow.

@CptBedlam said:

"character action" is a genre? Huh?

I never heard of it outside Giantbomb and while a silly, vauge sounding title, It works.

I'm pretty sure that name has been established for the genre for quite a while.

The name's absolutely been thrown around at least since the first God of War, possibly also Onimusha.

Googling for "character action game" shows that 1UP, TouchArcade, Joystiq, CNET, Gamasutra and a bunch of press releases use the genre name.

Posted by Nettacki

@Pop said:

oh wow, I like how angry people are. Yes more tears more! MORE! I must have all the tears to drink!

If people like you are part of the pro-DmC crowd, I'd rather be a hater.

Posted by Pop

@Nettacki said:

@Pop said:

oh wow, I like how angry people are. Yes more tears more! MORE! I must have all the tears to drink!

If people like you are part of the pro-DmC crowd, I'd rather be a hater.

I'm not in the pro-DmC crowd, I haven't played it yet, I'm in the anti-hater group. I love the prince of persia series (sands of time, warrior within, the two thrones are my favorite games ever) do I hate the prince of persia movie? yes I do, do I go on metacritic and give it 0 and say it's bad cause it's not what I wanted it to be? nope.

Posted by whylessness

“Launch week sales for DmC Devil May Cry were just a third of the amount that previous entry Devil May Cry 4 sold during its launch week in 2008,” Eurogamer reported. “That’s despite DmC having an extra three days on sale - it launched last Tuesday, compared to Devil May Cry 4‘s Friday launch, the traditional day that new video games hit shop shelves in the UK.”

Posted by horseman6

Uh oh, a Brad review which means you need to automatically take off two stars since he overrates everything.

Posted by redgonzo

god I'm not a brad fan, I mean he's ok more of a ryan davis person but you guys are assholes this review is fine.

Edited by Nettacki

@Pop said:

@Nettacki said:

@Pop said:

oh wow, I like how angry people are. Yes more tears more! MORE! I must have all the tears to drink!

If people like you are part of the pro-DmC crowd, I'd rather be a hater.

I'm not in the pro-DmC crowd, I haven't played it yet, I'm in the anti-hater group. I love the prince of persia series (sands of time, warrior within, the two thrones are my favorite games ever) do I hate the prince of persia movie? yes I do, do I go on metacritic and give it 0 and say it's bad cause it's not what I wanted it to be? nope.

Still, proclaiming your desire to drink the tears of the "angry butthurt fans" is not a very good way to express your willingness to consider other people's viewpoints. it's no worse than the extreme fans saying that everyone that gives this game high ratings is paid off by Capcom/Ninja Theory.

Posted by bshidoheat

Brad how much did they pay you and can you share some of the weed that you were smoking when you gave this game 5 stars?

Edited by ScribbleScrabble

Want a deeper look at the character development and tone in the game? Well, look no further!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NfxSQ896-c

Posted by OMGmyFACE

Occupy DeviantArt: The Game gets a 5-star review from a blog I respect? Disgraceful.

Posted by tamriilin

@Firelogic: Uhh... Reviews HAVE to be written in a vacuum. Taking a game on its own merit, with content that is there and without taking anything else into account, is the ONLY way to write reviews.

Posted by masterpaperlink

I don't traditionally enjoy dmc, thought this reboot was made for people like me, nope. somehow i enjoyed dmc 4 more.

wasn't terrible but pretty forgettable.

Posted by fatalbanana

@Nettacki said:

@Pop said:

@Nettacki said:

@Pop said:

oh wow, I like how angry people are. Yes more tears more! MORE! I must have all the tears to drink!

If people like you are part of the pro-DmC crowd, I'd rather be a hater.

I'm not in the pro-DmC crowd, I haven't played it yet, I'm in the anti-hater group. I love the prince of persia series (sands of time, warrior within, the two thrones are my favorite games ever) do I hate the prince of persia movie? yes I do, do I go on metacritic and give it 0 and say it's bad cause it's not what I wanted it to be? nope.

Still, proclaiming your desire to drink the tears of the "angry butthurt fans" is not a very good way to express your willingness to consider other people's viewpoints. it's no worse than the extreme fans saying that everyone that gives this game high ratings is paid off by Capcom/Ninja Theory.

oh come, on the Prince of Persia movie was fine.It wasn't great maybe not even good but it was totally fine.

Posted by fatalbanana

@Nekrokreuz said:

@ZeroV2 said:

This game is a disgrace to the Devil May Cry series

The awesomely complex and intricate combat systems from the other DMC games (barring 2) was thrown out of the window in favor of a casualized and totally simplistic brain dead turd. Not only that but it's obvious that Dante is essentially Tameem masturbating via video games

I wish someone with an actual interest in the DMC series could have reviewed this and given it a score that reflects the obvious steps back in quality that this series has suffered.

lol. this post.

Posted by ominousbedroom

Hey guys? This is one person's opinion, you know. I agree and disagree on a number of things in a number of reviews posted here and elsewhere. This is a game site run by people who have their own biases, just like me. And you. Why not treat all the content as information that can supplement your gaming life?

Reviews, being as subjective as they are, are just words, not law. Quit taking it so personally!

Posted by Gruff182

Great review Brad.

Your second paragraph pretty much summed up my expectations of the game. Got a decent deal on a Steam code so I gave it a chance. Loved it.

I've dabbled with past games, but am by no stretch a fan. They were fun games, my disconnect was the pairing of the nonsense story with nonsense characters. Ninja Theory took the same nonsense and made it relateable. Dante is still a smug asshole like before but without being a cartoon character and I'm not sure what everyones obsession is with "liking" the protagonist of a game or not being able to play as someone you wouldn't want to be buddies with. I always liked redesign direction doesn't need to be Nathan Drake though.

Not that it took me long to start to like Dante with his quips and mannerisms.

Anyway, theres so much great and subtle design that has gone into this and limbo is brilliant. Casting Joan Rivers as Lilith, also brilliant. I was set on skipping this game, now I'd love for NT to carry on the story in the next gen, so I can play an even better, better PC version :).

This might be the best DMC game, but it's by far the best Dante.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

I think we need to start a petition to get that review score lowered. I mean damn! When you call the storyline complete nonsense in your review, that should have dropped it to at least 4 stars, amirite?

Posted by Mars_Cleric

I liked it

Posted by Brenderous

I hope you give this game a chance if you're one of those "but I like the older ones better" people. Just beat it and it was FANTASTIC!

Posted by Nintendude

Game seems decent in general but I think this pun is unnecessary and damn stupid... *sigh*

Edited by HurricaneIvan29

Looks like it brings back the old school platformer style that current gen has been lacking. Digging it!