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DmC: Devil May Cry Preview

by Diogo Miguel December 19, 2012

Humans have a funny way to look at changes in life. They seem to want it but at the same time end up going against it. Perhaps that is why Devil May Cry fans haven’t been so pleased with the prequel, DmC, that Ninja Theory has been working on. They try to hide this fear of change by criticising even the smallest of changes, such as Dante’s hair style. It has certainly proved challenging for Capcom and Ninja Theory to convince fans it’s a worthy new entry. So will DmC live up to expectations or are fans correct to fear such a radical change?

The fighting mechanics in the upcoming Devil May Cry are nothing short of impressive. In the beginning Dante only has access to normal sword attacks and his trusty pair of guns. The first couple of hours are then spent acquiring both demon and angel weapons and abilities. It’s a clever way to ensure that the player doesn’t feel overwhelmed with information. It feels more natural to acquire one at a time. Specially as it makes it less difficult to combine all of these attacks later on.

As already mentioned, one of the key factors in the combat mechanics are the demon and angel powers. Each of these provides Dante with new weapons, such as the powerful Arbiter axe. Changing between weapons is as easy as pressing one of the triggers and an attack button or a quick tap of the directional weapon.

This easy transition between weapons gives the player complete freedom in combat. It’s a great way to encourage creativity in attack patterns and potentially earn even better high score grades. In fact, one of the main ways to succeed in Devil May Cry is by finding out about all its various combos. Making use of more advanced combos makes it possible to even juggle enemies in the air, and other equally impressive feats. It’s a pretty solid combat system that becomes more intricate with mission progress.

There are a lot of different combos to purchase in true Devil May Cry style. It’s necessary to first fill up an orb by defeating enemies. Each orb is exchanged for one point that is used to buy more weapon combos and other skills. These weapon upgrades do make a difference and will make it much easier to get through some of the challenges ahead.

Unlike the earlier Devil May Cry video-games, it doesn’t seem like there are any puzzle sections, or at least that was the case in the story portion played. However, these are replaced by some fantastic platform sections. These often make use of some of the abilities provided by the angel and demon powers. Some of these powers include the ability to pull platforms and even dash forward to cover large gaps.

These agility based platform sections get more complicated with each new mission. It gets to the point where it’s necessary to multi-task by making use of several abilities at the same time. Initially, it’s tricky to use both the demon pulling and angel hook powers at the same time though. Yet it feels very satisfying to pull it off after a few attempts. This may seem daunting but the idea of Dante earning one new ability at the time means it is simple to adjust to the situation. Either way, falling will merely penalise the player by reducing the health bar a bit and placing Dante in a nearby platform.

The missions played all take place in different areas of Limbo. Limbo is just like every other city, but for the fact that deep down it’s more like a human livestock farm for demons. The city itself is living and will attempt to kill Dante whenever it gets a chance. The nature of the missions means that levels felt somewhat linear, since the path is narrow to accommodate for the scripted environment changes. It still felt enjoyable to play through and tackle the various agility challenges. The idea of going back to improve scores is also very appealing. Those that played through Devil May Cry 4 will also like to know that there isn’t any backtracking.

It’s a Ninja Theory video-game so it isn’t a surprise that there are plenty of cut-scenes. Most of these consist of seamless transitions between combat sections. Ninja Theory’s experience in this area means that the in-game cut-scenes are nothing short of impressive. It never feels like it is interrupting the flow of combat and it certainly doesn’t feel like a nuisance.

The dialogue is an improvement from the previous Devil May Cry video-games. Specially since it actually makes more sense. There is a lot of swearing involved, but that is just one of the aspects that makes this a modern take on the franchise. The use of modern cultural references, such as the fact that Dante’s female companion uses spray cans for spells, makes for a better experience. It also shows that Capcom is letting Ninja Theory tell the story from their unique point of view. Sometimes the story feels so surreal that it will surely make the player eager to find out more. Not that it means this is a completely different version of Devil May Cry, since various familiar references popped up throughout the time spent playing it.

Perhaps one of the more pleasant surprises was encountering so many different types of enemies. Not only that but each one required a different approach to defeating them. It is certainly handy that the controls are mapped in a way that makes it easy to use different weapons. The dodge function is also an essential tool for not being hit and gaining higher score grades. It almost feels like a dance with demons when fighting. Specially when fighting different types of enemies at the same time. Perhaps the only downside is that it’s not always easy to target enemies. It automatically locks in to the nearest enemy, but this means not always having control who Dante attacks.

Going up against each of the bosses will likely end up being a memorable moment. Each boss has a certain theme that usually revolves around current world issues, such as greed and misuse of media outlets. It’s a fascinating idea since Dante is slowly liberating the blissfully unaware citizens of Limbo with each boss killed. It’s not often that video-games meddle in real life affairs, so it’s reassuring to see that Ninja Theory successfully manages to incorporate it in Devil May Cry. Some of the messages are not so subliminal, but it’s still entertaining.

The soundtrack is obviously not to everyone’s taste. It will take some patience for some to endure the various licensed bands, like Noisia, that play during specific moments. In a way, it does feel like it’s the sort of music that Devil May Cry is typically associated with though.

The idea of a city that is both home to demons, in its true nature, and humans gives the development team plenty of room for being creative. Some of the ideas used in later stages will surely surprise in a positive manner. Specially when it comes to each of the paths that Dante uses to progress deeper into this city owned by the evil Mundus.

Those that are still worried about this radical change for Dante should perhaps look closer. There is certainly more to Devil May Cry than meets the eye. What has been played shows that Ninja Theory is committed to providing a unique experience that bends the very basic laws of gravity.

It’s a risk, but Devil May Cry has the potential for becoming a worthy new entry, and perhaps another successful gamble for Capcom in terms of handing over a key franchise to an external developer.

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