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 PollySMPS

@Milkman: He does seem just a tad perturbed, yeah.

Posted by therealnelsk

@CptBedlam said:

"character action" is a genre? Huh?

Yeah. At least since the first one in 2001, and probably before that.

Posted by Besetment

I thought damn near everyone stopped playing DMC after 2, myself included. This review is perfect for me, since I wasn't even going to notice the game before seeing this review. Now I'll have to take another look. Seems the people who ARE attached to the devil may cry series have no need for a review, since they're so quick to judge the game without even playing it anyway.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@Ratfoot said:

Who let Brad do this after leaving the series after 2, he missed out on the two most important entries in the series.

DMC 4 is the most important entry in the series.

Huh.

@Animasta said:

@Milkman said:

@EnduranceFun said:

What a fucking joke. It seems like Brad's reviews are five stars more than anything else, but this game is an insult and bastardisation of a previously awesome series. Fuck off Brad, never trusting your shitty reviews ever again.

u mad or something?

so much salt right now.

I have decided that instead of getting disappointed in the community I will just bathe in it

Yes join me. Waters fine.

@EnduranceFun said:

What a fucking joke. It seems like Brad's reviews are five stars more than anything else, but this game is an insult and bastardisation of a previously awesome series. Fuck off Brad, never trusting your shitty reviews ever again.

Hey bro, maybe you should check the review stats for the last year. Learn a thing or two.

Posted by 123654

the old dmc games were shit, what are you babies crying about?

Posted by notdavid

Well, that settles it. I'm picking up this game on Wednesday.

On another note, I'm kind of sympathetic to the haters. And I never liked Devil May Cry before. If the changes are so radical, why are they calling it DMC? Doesn't that kind of prevent the old team from continuing the series they started? It's not like Capcom can have two different DMC canons being developed at the same time, one with old Dante and one with new Dante.

Posted by Crushed

@Besetment said:

I thought damn near everyone stopped playing DMC after 2, myself included. This review is perfect for me, since I wasn't even going to notice the game before seeing this review. Now I'll have to take another look. Seems the people who ARE attached to the devil may cry series have no need for a review, since they're so quick to judge the game without even playing it anyway.

There was a demo and the game released early for a lot people, and many old DMC fans who played it thought that the gameplay systems had been completely dumbed down so that you could just mash the same attack over and over and get high scores.

Posted by Vitor

Best optimised PC port ever apparently: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=508303

Even a low range GPU can get 60FPS no problem. Can't wait for the 25th.

Posted by Ghost_of_Perdition

Interesting. I'm definitely sticking around for tomorrow's live stream.

Edited by mrfluke

5 stars? good for them, i really dont like the new dante look, but ill put those reservations aside and play the game still.

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

only thing i take issue with is this piece above cause Asura's Wrath and Bayonetta, beg to differ.

also i see why you ducked out after Devil May Cry 2, but 3 and 4 were great games.

Posted by L33tfella_H

@EnduranceFun: Actually, I have played it. And from my experience: It's not the game you want it to be, but it's still pretty alright.

Seriously, let it go.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@EnduranceFun said:

@Animasta said:

@Milkman said:

@EnduranceFun said:

What a fucking joke. It seems like Brad's reviews are five stars more than anything else, but this game is an insult and bastardisation of a previously awesome series. Fuck off Brad, never trusting your shitty reviews ever again.

u mad or something?

so much salt right now.

I have decided that instead of getting disappointed in the community I will just bathe in it

Bradley I-5-Star-Every-Game Shoemaker has pissed me off, yes. When Ninja Theory befouls one of your favorites and are showered with praise by the gaming press you may appreciate where I'm at.

But they were paid so much money to give it that score man. How could they turn down that briefcase full of cash?

Posted by Drakoji

This is bullshit, this game is just some pure casualization of a perfectly good and challenging franchise.

Good thing I got a Wii U, can't wait for Bayonetta 2 to wash away this foul taste in my mouth.

Posted by Orange_Pork

Good to see the game getting the praise it deserves. Also good to see the tumultuous butt-hurt in the comments section of every gaming site on the internet right now.

Take notes, kids. This is what happens when you try to judge games you've never played.

Posted by spankingaddict

YEAH !

Edited by august

@EnduranceFun said:

Bradley I-5-Star-Every-Game Shoemaker has pissed me off, yes. When Ninja Theory befouls one of your favorites and are showered with praise by the gaming journalism you may appreciate where I'm at.

You are behaving like a child.

And it's pretty entertaining.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@Drakoji said:

This is bullshit, this game is just some pure casualization of a perfectly good and challenging franchise.

Good thing I got a Wii U, can't wait for Bayonetta 2 to wash away this foul taste in my mouth.

I think that foul taste might not go away bud.

Edited by LegendaryChopChop

Another 5-star GB review that will be completely left out of the 2013 Game of the Year category. This smells like a Diablo 3 kind of review/caught up in the initial hype sort of deal.

Posted by GiantAlston

Well, this is surprising. I'm glad to see the character alter didn't screw up Dante :)

Posted by LackingSaint

Awesome to hear, I might pick this game up. Loved Enslaved but have had no experience with the DMC series, but looking out how outrageously jaded a lot of these comments are i'm probably better off.

Edited by Cyrus_Saren

5 stars, huh? Crazy.

Also, am I the only one baffled on this being a "nearly forgotten franchise"?

Posted by Vitor

Seriously, fuck everyone in these comments.

"This review doesn't agree with my preconceived notions of what this game that I've never played and have no intention of ever playing is like. I'm judging it completely based on marketing, which can never in any way be misleading or do a disservice to a product BECAUSE I'M A FUCKING ASSHOLE".

Posted by Drakoji

@ArtisanBreads: MGS: Rising and Bayonetta 2 will sure help make it less worst.

Posted by Animasta

@EnduranceFun said:

@Animasta said:

@Milkman said:

@EnduranceFun said:

What a fucking joke. It seems like Brad's reviews are five stars more than anything else, but this game is an insult and bastardisation of a previously awesome series. Fuck off Brad, never trusting your shitty reviews ever again.

u mad or something?

so much salt right now.

I have decided that instead of getting disappointed in the community I will just bathe in it

Bradley I-5-Star-Every-Game Shoemaker has pissed me off, yes. When Ninja Theory befouls one of your favorites and are showered with praise by the gaming press you may appreciate where I'm at.

then stop fucking whining and go wait for bayonetta 2 then?

seriously you are legit acting like a ten year old.

Posted by Humanity

@Crushed: There is no way you can even survive most of the later levels by mashing the same attack over and over. Those people played a demo which had to show a vertical slice of a game with a ton of systems. You don't even unlock all your abilities for the first hour of the game - it's fine, everyone calm down it's fine. Not dumbed down or bastardized, and Brad isn't getting a fat check from Ninja Theory, seriously, it's fine.

Edited by DarthOrange

So seeing as how I loved RE6 and think Brad has horrible taste in games does that mean I should stay away from this one? I'm joking (not about loving RE6, that shit was awesome). I will wait for a price drop, nothing stays at $60 for long these days and I don't have $60 to throw at everything that looks neat.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@Drakoji said:

@ArtisanBreads: MGS: Rising and Bayonetta 2 will sure help make it less worst.

less worst. Word.

Edited by mdnthrvst

Hah. I've never played a DMC game, but it was clear from the get-go that the hair thing is just a big, attention-grabbing distraction.

However, this is what I'm taking away from all the reviews out there:

A simplified (streamlined and simplified seem like direct synonyms in this case, if real fans have any say about it), dumbed-down combat system that prioritizes style above player skill (which is conveniently why mainstream journalists are eating this shit up hand over fist).

A lame, hokey story that boils down to They Live meets Occupy Wall Street, with bad characters and a poorly-realized villain.

Alternate costumes with the white hair everyone wanted in the first place, not to mention Dante getting it later in the story anyway, killing the whole point of your big, controversial design change.

Yup, looks like Bayonetta is *still* the greatest action game of all time.

Too bad.

Posted by Drakoji

@Vitor: You sure fit with this game audience. FUCK YOU!

See I'm like Donte. :3

Posted by NapTimeSleeper

Happy to see it turned out well.

Posted by august

@LegendaryChopChop said:

Another 5-star GB review that will be completely left out of the 2013 Game of the Year category. This smells like a Diablo 3 kind of review/caught up in the initial hype sort of deal.

There wasn't hype for this game, if anything the opposite. It's not even close to being comparable to the behemoth of a new Diablo game.

Posted by Colourful_Hippie

@Animasta said:

@EnduranceFun said:

@Animasta said:

@Milkman said:

@EnduranceFun said:

What a fucking joke. It seems like Brad's reviews are five stars more than anything else, but this game is an insult and bastardisation of a previously awesome series. Fuck off Brad, never trusting your shitty reviews ever again.

u mad or something?

so much salt right now.

I have decided that instead of getting disappointed in the community I will just bathe in it

Bradley I-5-Star-Every-Game Shoemaker has pissed me off, yes. When Ninja Theory befouls one of your favorites and are showered with praise by the gaming press you may appreciate where I'm at.

then stop fucking whining and go wait for bayonetta 2 then?

seriously you are legit acting like a ten year old.

Fuck the forums, the comments section is already full of gold.

Posted by SquirrelGOD

Well, hot damn. I had sort of written this off, because I didn't think the series needed the reboot treatment. But, I'll probably pick this up tomorrow!

Posted by OllyOxenFree

Controversy! Love the comments so far. Dance, fools, dance!

Posted by Besetment

@Crushed said:

@Besetment said:

I thought damn near everyone stopped playing DMC after 2, myself included. This review is perfect for me, since I wasn't even going to notice the game before seeing this review. Now I'll have to take another look. Seems the people who ARE attached to the devil may cry series have no need for a review, since they're so quick to judge the game without even playing it anyway.

There was a demo and the game released early for a lot people, and many old DMC fans who played it thought that the gameplay systems had been completely dumbed down so that you could just mash the same attack over and over and get high scores.

Oh, okay. So if playing a demo is enough to affect your decision to buy the game, why even read a review? Are they looking for their frustration to be validated? Are they hoping the reviews are all bad so the developers don't sell copies? Are they trying to reach out to people reading the comments and try to convince them to disregard the review? Why exactly are they here if their mind is already made up? If it's just to vent steam, then I think I'll go with Brad's judgement on this one.

Posted by algertman

Game play must be Halo levels casual if Brad can play it well.

Posted by cooljammer00

I love you guys for being so butthurt over this game and claiming DMC has been defiled, or whatever.

Ninja Theory owes you nothing. Capcom owes you nothing. Brad Shoemaker owes you nothing. Last I checked, Giant Bomb is a site that expressly tells you that each review is the opinion of the reviewer only. Jeff hates Red Dead, but did that make me like it any less or make it any less of a good game? No.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@Animasta said:

@EnduranceFun said:

@august: Put it down to horror at seeing Giant Bomb like this hot garbage. All of these hyperbolic reviews for this, in many ways objectively, worse reboot are digging a deeper grave for the old style of DMC I love

hey hey hey

you know what I did with Jeff gave Catherine 2 stars?

I silently disagreed with him AND MOVED ON WITH MY LIFE.

Wait how could you do this? You could play the game and enjoy it if someone else didn't?

But what if they rebooted Catherine and her hair was black? WHAT THEN?

@algertman said:

Game play must be Halo levels casual if Brad can play it well.

Yeah Halo is never hard. There's not like difficulty levels in this or Halo.

Posted by Applederp

Jesus christ the level of rectal pain in the comments is terrifying.

Anyways, I'll check this out. I like the other Devil May Cry games (besides 2), and was worried about this one.

Posted by HaltIamReptar

I pretty much went into the game consciously expecting to hate all of this

ok

I brought no personal baggage to Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry

Posted by Brandino

Well deserved.

Let the lonely haters hate.

Posted by SasquatchRuby

What?! This is good!

First Far Cry 3 and now this?!?!?

Posted by Superfriend

Cool, maybe this will be the break Ninja Theory needs. They deserve to finally have a successful (or maybe even million selling) title!

Posted by Equal_Opportunity_Destroyer497

I'm not so surprised by the score. I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed the demo and became genuinely interested in this franchise for the first time in a very long time. Plus it's Ninja Theory, who happen to make games that I really like. I hope this sells well, as NT could use a break after doing two extremely solid titles that sold for shit.

Posted by Drakoji

@algertman: Oh it is... Reaching SSS in the combos is super easy compared to early DMC games or Bayonetta.

I'm sure this game is not that bad and must be quite fun for a casual to normal gamer, but this is not DMC.

DMC is supposed to be challenging and have a really focused and hardcore combat system. This is mashy as fuck.

Posted by tourgen

I've got two questions that I didn't see answered in the review:

1) Is it 60fps on the 360?

2) is it at least as good as Bayonetta?

Online
Posted by Crushed

@Humanity said:

@Crushed: There is no way you can even survive most of the later levels by mashing the same attack over and over. Those people played a demo which had to show a vertical slice of a game with a ton of systems. You don't even unlock all your abilities for the first hour of the game - it's fine, everyone calm down it's fine. Not dumbed down or bastardized, and Brad isn't getting a fat check from Ninja Theory, seriously, it's fine.

I'm already hearing people who have played the whole game complaining about how the systems don't change at all past a certain point and they're getting S-ranked in levels they did shit in.

Posted by Efesell

5 Star review, and 5 star comments. Lovin' it.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@HaltIamReptar said:

I pretty much went into the game consciously expecting to hate all of this

ok

I brought no personal baggage to Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry

You sure can make that sounds weird if you totally take it out of context. I'll clarify.

He expects to hate the direction of the reboot from what he saw about the character and setting.

He wasn't a fan of DMC before, thus isn't offended by change.

Anyways, these comments:

Posted by buzz_clik

@Sooty said:

I can't trust Brad reviews after the love Far Cry 2 and Rage got.

Quite the contrary, it sounds exactly like you can trust Brad reviews based on his tastes clashing with yours. As Jeff has said repeatedly, if you learn a reviewer's style and tastes and how they mesh with your own, their review is still useful to you as a sort-of "what not to buy" guide if they give a game a good score (and vice versa).

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