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 Xtrminatr

@WMWA said:

@ZeroV2

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.

"Have someone who loves the old games review this so they can hate it or be indifferent to it." Quit being so self-centered. There are other people out there who may actually like this game for what it is, not what it isn't, or what you expected it to be anyway. And this review is indicative of that.

Certain people need to know that someone with an actual name in the industry agrees with them. Amazing how the whole part about reviews being for those on the fence about buying games goes completely over peoples' heads.

Posted by Legion_

@pbhawks45 said:

@zombie2011 said:

I have no idea what is going on in the comments for this review.

Why are people mad this game that the game reviewed well?

Because change is bad. We hate how games always stay the same, and become bland/generic, then flip even more shit when they try to do something different. People get so angry because they have nothing else to live for besides their happy memories of the past.

I salute you. Those are wise words, brother.

Posted by Branthog

You know, it's strange -- I generally like every genre of game, to some degree. Except rhythm games. But I guess the DMC style of game is a second one I don't care for, because nothing about it seems appealing. It just looks like a lot of spastic work to play padded by unappealing characters and story. I kind of wonder if this is an age thing. I can almost see myself looking eagerly at this if I were a teenager, but . . . ugh.

At least is sounds like it's a solidly made game, though, after all of the complaints and questioning throughout development and the marketing of the last year.

Posted by Make_Me_Mad

@mdnthrvst said:

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

@tourgen: 30 FPS.

No.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@EnduranceFun said:

@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.

Hurr hurr, yeah, my life's in shambles now that I've flipped two birds at Brad's reviews. Sick burn.

I'll move on, but I also want to say, fuck this game and fuck everyone lapping it up.

You were telling someone to grow up a minute ago.

And were mad Dante says "fuck you" right?

Oh my sides.

Posted by EnduranceFun

@patrick 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.

Though there's always Platinum Games' stuff, it's still depressing if this is really it for DMC.

Objective opinions = lolol

Lower FPS

Less Weapons

Lower Difficulty

Worse Story

Less Content

Objective facts

Posted by Pr1mus

@tourgen said:

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?

I think they said 30 fps on both consoles and 60 on PC.

Can't tell about Bayonetta, never played it.

Posted by smatticus

dude you never played 3? that was the best one! i highly recommend grabbing the original (not special edition) ps2 release and taking it for a spin.

Posted by Milkman

How dare Ninja Theory soil this great, storied franchise that clearly deserved the utmost respect and reverence.

Posted by mdnthrvst

@cooljammer00: This is a bit larger than the white-hot madness of this comment thread, but the issue of reviews and reviewers' opinions is something worth looking at.

You say that Brad Shoemaker's opinion isn't worth the speck of dirt under my fingernail if I don't let it be, but that isn't really true. Brad's opinion is the one that counts for Metacritic, and, in a very direct way, he has the largest platform of anyone on the site to give a judgment of DmC. It is Brad Shoemaker's opinion that is plastered across the front page of this website and broadcast to ten thousand-odd people. They don't have to respect it, but he is CLEARLY more empowered than anyone else in this discussion to make his voice heard.

Posted by Ramone

Well that's a surprise.

These comments are fun also.

Posted by august

TELL STACEY THAT BRADLEY IS NO LONGER INVITED TO MY TEA PARTIES

Posted by algertman

First ME3 is his GOTY and now this.

Posted by HaltIamReptar

@ArtisanBreads said:

@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:

you know what, that makes sense. I suppose the worst you could say it was a weird choice of words

Posted by Besetment

@EnduranceFun said:

@mdnthrvst said:

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 (yes, streamlined and simplified ARE direct synonyms), 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.

This. A million times.

This shit's a good example of how the games media, focused on finishing games as fast as possible, reward a series for being dumbed down and made simplistic, as well as spoon feeding them the content. There was so much more depth to even DMC4 than DmC, it was a far better game on a nicer looking engine, this game doesn't come close to even that, and DMC3 >>> DMC4.

You just quoted someone who admits to never having played a DMC game before, then agreed with him using comparisons of the previous DMC games.

Makes perfect sense.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

@Milkman said:

How dare Ninja Theory soil this great, storied franchise that clearly deserved the utmost respect and reverence.

Just ruining a rich story man. You would expect the Anime Editor to realize this.

Posted by Linkster7

OK I haven't read the review yet, I just feel the need to express my surprise over the score. Here goes: WHAAAA!?

Posted by Milkman

@EnduranceFun said:

@patrick 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.

Though there's always Platinum Games' stuff, it's still depressing if this is really it for DMC.

Objective opinions = lolol

Lower FPS

Less Weapons

Lower Difficulty

Worse Story

Less Content

Objective facts

Worse story is an objective fact? Okay.

Posted by L33tfella_H

@EnduranceFun: Worse story? Did you even PLAY any of the old DMC games? Christ, you're just trying to fish out excuses to not like this game now.

Posted by Tiefling

Brad whyyyyyyyyyyyy ;_;

Edited by falling_fast

huh. didn't expect this game to be any good. I've played some of 3 and 4 and I didn't like either. Devil May Cry 4 especially was a painfully bad game. Even Bayonetta was merely okay, gameplay-wise.

Posted by believer258

@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.

Do you know what an opinion is? Do you understand that Brad can have one that isn't the same as yours?

Posted by BoomSnapClap113

What happened to this community :( You can't look at the comment section of any video / write-up, without seeing long dragged out arguments about pretty much anything and everything. Am I misremembering when I say it wasn't like this 2 years ago? It's such a drag.

Posted by Drakoji

@Legion_: I got nothing against change. I love change, I love innovation and the desire to make things fresh.

Bayonetta was a different game than DMC and I loved it. Sure they have the same roots, but some mechanics made it really fresh.

My problem with DmC is not that they changed Dante, who cares, but that they made the game super easy and casual.

They dumbed it down.

Posted by ocha

I'm extremely happy to see this. I was a little scared seeing Ninja Theory was taking the reigns on this one. I was afraid it wouldnt "feel right." But after playing just a few minutes of the demo I know this is a keeper. I love Ninja Theory's story characters and art but it's great to see them get gameplay down solid.

Posted by Vitor

@EnduranceFun said:

@patrick 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.

Though there's always Platinum Games' stuff, it's still depressing if this is really it for DMC.

Objective opinions = lolol

Lower FPS

Less Weapons

Lower Difficulty

Worse Story

Less Content

Objective facts

DMC4's story was hot garbage and you know it. DMC2 and 1 weren't much better. You're seriously misremembering the series.

As for less content, Bloody Palace is coming out as free DLC soon and did you forget about the bit where DMC4 was half a game that made you play through it twice because it was clearly unfinished?

Everything I've heard about DMC suggests great replayability so your facts hardly seem like facts at all.

Posted by therepublicanguy

Well shit...

Posted by cannonballBAM

Posted by august

@Animasta said:

@EnduranceFun said:

@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.

Hurr hurr, yeah, my life's in shambles now that I've flipped two birds at Brad's reviews. Sick burn.

I'll move on, but I also want to say, fuck this game and fuck everyone lapping it up.

you are him.

you are the new dante.

Punk rock as fuck!

Posted by TheHT
Edited by Blind_Evil

I'm eagerly looking forward to playing DmC. Ninja Theory proved to me they deserve my attention and money with Enslaved. I doubt it'll tickle me like, say, Bayonetta, but it should be great.

Regarding how nutty the DMC traditionalists around the web are... remember the boycott of DMC4? For Capcom's BETRAYAL of Sony in favor of a multiplatform release? Seems the most loyal of the DMC crowd skews young, or immature at least. This'll look as nuts in 5 years as the boycott does now.

Edited by mnzy

@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.

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/marino/2012-a-year-in-reviews/30-98148/

You mean 5-out-of-26 Bradley?

People want to hate this game so much, I'm loving it.

Posted by DeathbyYeti

Is this the furry comment section?

Fucking furries right guys

Posted by d3c0yBoY

I saw the 5 stars for this game and immediately thought, "I hope they are prepared for the shit storm of stupid heading their way". Looking at some of these ignorant comments, I hate to say that I was right.

Great review Brad. Stay the course and don't apologize. Its what makes you guys at Giantbomb great.

Posted by falling_fast

is Run DMC in this game

Posted by TadThuggish

@damnable_fiend said:

is Run DMC in this game

Posted by Tobiass

Nice.

Posted by Firelogic

Reviews don't happen in a vacuum so if you haven't played DMC3, not sure if I can trust this DmC review.

Edited by Pr1mus

The delusional folks complaining that Ninja Theory ruined their favorite franchise need to realize one thing. This game doesn't erase DMC 1-4 from existence. It doesn't make 1,3 and 4 any worst and doesn't make 2 any better. These games aren't going anywhere. Also if Capcom greenlit this reboot it's obviously because they had no interest in making a 5th one like before. You were never going to get that game anyway.

Now by all means, go back to being angry.

Posted by Xtrminatr

@EnduranceFun said:

@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.

Hurr hurr, yeah, my life's in shambles now that I've flipped two birds at Brad's reviews. Sick burn.

I'll move on, but I also want to say, fuck this game and fuck everyone lapping it up.

You're seriously the best at writing comments like a 12 year old

Posted by Dallas_Raines
  1. I just beat this....it's a Devil May Cry game through and through. Same exact combat as far as I can tell, same forgettable storytelling.
  2. Also, about his hair, it turns white just like every sensible person had guessed.
Posted by heatDrive88

Oh, Capcom franchise fanboys. You people are the worst ever.

Posted by Dasdude

WHOA was not expecting this at all! Good job capcom!

Posted by metalsnakezero

Nice to hear this game is pretty good, Capcom doing something right. Now they need to keep this up with other series.

Posted by Curufinwe

It's cool Brad enjoyed the game so much although I find his love for the storytelling kind of hard to fathom, and if he's got the action game itch then there's DMC 4, DMC 3 SE HD and Bayonetta out there for him to dive into.

And MGRR next month.

Posted by Hitchenson

Huh.

Edited by EnduranceFun

@Vitor said:

DMC4's story was hot garbage and you know it. DMC2 and 1 weren't much better. You're seriously misremembering the series.

As for less content, Bloody Palace is coming out as free DLC soon and did you forget about the bit where DMC4 was half a game that made you play through it twice because it was clearly unfinished?

Everything I've heard about DMC suggests great replayability so your facts hardly seem like facts at all.

DMC4's story was better than DmC's, which is a rip-off of They Live and tries to be edgy in a way that was entirely avoided by previous games. I find it very hard to believe anyone can say DmC is better than 4 when it runs at a crisp 60FPS with far more going on, DmC runs on the god damn Unreal Engine. It is practically a different genre when it is that much slower and the potential for crazy combos or simply the ceiling for player skill has been capped very low. Also don't see how you refuted any of my facts whatsoever. Arguing that having to download Bloody Palace is okay is also pretty disgusting imo.

Posted by tourgen

@Drakoji said:

@tourgen: 30 FPS.

No.

thanks.

well I'll just wait for the next time around I guess.

Posted by Enigma777

I literally cannot believe this review. Either the game gets much, much, much better after the demo or me and Brad have completely dofferent tastes when it comes to character action games.