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 Darkecho117

First review of the year is a 5 star. Way to start things off okay video games.

Posted by MrAriscottle

Might check the demo out then. Good review.

Posted by Wastrel

I...don't know about this, Brad. But alright.

Posted by Zuldim

Whoa, really? 5 Stars? To... DmC?

O- Okay, I'll admit, I didn't see that coming.

Posted by killacam

whoa!

Posted by CptBedlam

"character action" is a genre? Huh?

Posted by Demoskinos

He was obviously paid off you guys.... *cue eye roll*

Posted by Hardtarget

well ..

that's surprising

Posted by Sackmanjones

Very cool to hear that this game turned out awesome. I'll be waiting for a pc discount but cannot wait to pick it up

Edited by L33tfella_H

I foresee a massive shitstorm incoming concerning the review score for this.

Personally, game's alright, slightly disappointing if you're used to character action games like this though.

Edit: Odds on Brad's opinion of the game dropping by the end of the year? Might just be me, but it seems he is super excited for some games during the review process, but afterwards starts finding more and more flaws with them as time goes on.

Posted by Mesoian

I am genuinely surprised.

Posted by Zurv

really? hrmm.. I don't like games like this.. but i'll pick it up...

I better like it brad! :)

Posted by Big_Mex
Posted by falserelic

YAY!

Posted by MrGtD

UH OH, there's no way I'm staying in this comment section for long. This is about to go real bad.

Posted by Marz

5 stars, wasn't expecting that :D

Posted by HaltIamReptar

When I saw the 5 star score, I knew instantly that it was Brad who reviewed it. Nobody does hyperbole quite like Shoemaker.

Posted by Twinsun

Already pre-ordered it for PC, looking forward to playing it even more now :).

Posted by DoctorWelch

Interesting. I don't give a shit about DMC either...maybe I'll like this game.

Posted by LikeaSsur

I smell a storm approaching.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Spaceyoghurt

Huh.

Posted by MuncherOfSpleens

Maybe I need to stop ignoring this game.

Posted by Mesoian

@L33tfella_H: The biggest problem this game seems to have aren't ones that are going to permeate reviews. The fact that you can do SSS combos super easily now can only be put into context if you're not just a fan of older DMC games, but are hardcore into them tot he point where you complete stuff like Dante must Die mode and the Bloody Tower. I think we'll see a ton of 4's across the board, as the narrative, while stupid (which it's always been), doesn't really seem to be anything offensively terrible like people thought it would. Sessler's review was pretty interesting, him saying that it's the clearest and most focused the story in an DMC game has ever been, but that drags it down because it makes how stupid the whole thing is that much more apparent.

Posted by Getz

Yeah sure, I'll buy this. It's kind of funny; Bayonetta was the first game I bought that year too.

Posted by Draxyle

I don't know much about the DMC franchise, but almost all the buzz leading up to today made it sound like a terrible direction for the series and for the fans. It's very interesting to see it get glowing reviews on release despite all evidence to the contrary; that normally never happens in videogames.

I should probably pick up the old DMC collection someday soon to start.

Posted by JoeGuy

Surprised at a GB 5/5 tbh.

Posted by wemibelec90

@Demoskinos said:

He was obviously paid off you guys.... *cue eye roll*

I can't believe how many of these comments I'm seeing. It appears DMC fans are not very good with change.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

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.

Posted by Shaanyboi

Ninja Theory is kinda the only reason I cared about a new Devil May Cry at all. I hope it's an experience I'll enjoy when it arrives in the mail.

Posted by thebunnyhunter

Was pretty excited for this since i played the demo and all my hesitant thinking has been quelled. Be picking this up

Posted by Video_Game_King

A.) I knew that Brad reviewed this before I even clicked it.

B.) ElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiAsura'sWrathElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddaiElShaddai

Posted by brownsfantb

@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.

Because all of the other reviews are saying how bad it is. Except it seems that most people agree with Brad. The game has been getting great reviews across the board.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

Damn sounds like they improved alot from 4, might have to give it a crack.

Posted by nohthink

Wow, starting off 2012 with a 5 star game. I can feel this year is gonna be great :)

Edited by cannonballBAM

I love you, you are awesome.

Posted by weegieanawrench

Great review, Brad. Did not expect a fiver at all. I would be stoked if I were any good at these sorts of games, I just can't seem to move my fingers fast enough.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

Nice. Dudes on already assuming this was getting a 3 or 4. Can't wait for the PC version.

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

Agreed, got the game early and it's one of the best action titles I've played in a long while

Online
Posted by Demoskinos

@wemibelec90 said:

@Demoskinos said:

He was obviously paid off you guys.... *cue eye roll*

I can't believe how many of these comments I'm seeing. It appears DMC fans are not very good with change.

Yeah, cute when people point out the slightly more negative reviews and are like YO THIS GUY IS TELLING THE TRUTH. THEM OTHER GUYS MAN THEY JUST ON THE TAKE. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Like, c'mon thats sad when you can just accept that some people actually really like this reboot.

Posted by L33tfella_H

@Mesoian: Yea, suppose you have a point. To the game's credit, as reviewers have already stated, it helps ease people not familiar with these types of games into it, but the hardcore definitely won't come away impressed with it (my take on it atleast).

Posted by JoeyRavn

@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.

So, what you're saying is that if this is my first DMC game, I won't be disappointed by it? Sweet. I'm gonna get it for PC.

Posted by Pr1mus

Dis gon b gud.

Some people are already super pissed and tons more are on the way!

Posted by VicRattlehead

@ZeroV2: the combat system is their you just have to dig

Posted by Epidehl

Huh, sounds like it's not as far off from the old games as it seemed, what with "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".

That makes me way more excited about it, since the gameplay seemed great from the demo which was largely the bigger concern going into this reboot. I'm also a total sucker for good mocap, which DMC3 also had.

That said, I still hate this Dante's design but at least it should be a fun game otherwise.

Posted by killacam

@L33tfella_H said:

Edit: Odds on Brad's opinion of the game dropping by the end of the year? Might just be me, but it seems he is super excited for some games during the review process, but afterwards starts finding more and more flaws with them as time goes on.

I think that can be said for anyone in regards to new games, and for a lot of reviewers in general.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

@Video_Game_King: Sorry king, but the combat in El Shaddai is bad but You are free to disagree.

Edited by rmanthorp

FUCKING-A! Way to go Shoemaker. I have played though this game 3 times now and it is straight up fucking awesome!

Let's GO! I'm so happy that you could look past all the bullshit hate thrown up against this game. I can't wait for DmC chat on the bombcast!

Moderator
Posted by iceveiled

Hmm...game seems to be getting so pretty positive reviews. I'll add it to my to-do-when-price-drops list.

Posted by Overbite

I still think its fucking hilarious that Donte was designed after that Tameem dude. As for the game itself I'm sure I'd find all this FUCK YOOOOOOOOUUUUU and edginess badass if I was in high school. Does Donte draw pentagrams on his backpack with white-out?