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DmC: Devil May Cry Review

by Diogo Miguel January 25, 2013

It’s fair to say that Ninja Theory has received its share of criticism throughout the development of the latest Devil May Cry video-game. Capcom has given the external developer full reigns of its beloved franchise. But will this new take on the DmC formula work out for the best?

One of the main reasons for playing a Devil May Cry video-game is the fighting. DmC has plenty of it with literally most of the missions revolving around taking on lots of demons. Fortunately Dante is given some fantastic abilities that makes it easier to take on all of them.

One of the main concepts in DmC is the fact that Dante can use both devil and angel powers. It’s only fair to assume that having so many powers at once would end up confusing the player. Fortunately the control scheme makes it all very straight forward. Each trigger activates demon or angel powers. So making use of a demon power is as simple as holding the right trigger and one of the buttons.

This controls scheme makes it possible to easily change weapons and attack patterns. It’s specially useful when attempting to fight different types of demons at the same time. Some enemies are only vulnerable to demon or angel powers. Dante can only damage them with weapons that are associated to either of these powers. So it’s essential to make the transition between weapons as smooth as possible.

Oddly enough DmC is very generous with the amount of weapons and abilities given fairly early on. But it’s done so that the player can adjust to multitasking when fighting enemies. Each of the new weapons is cleverly introduced in such a natural manner, that it’s impossible to not learn how to use it. It’s also not the case that weapons or abilities are used once or twice throughout the story. Every mission will require the use of everything that Dante has learned to complete it.

Those worried about being given so many weapons fairly early should relax. New weapons are given out right up to the last couple of missions. What matters though is that switching between all the weapons is as simple as pressing a direction on the d-pad. Admittedly some of these weapons are more powerful than others. The combat mechanics make up for this with limitations, like the fact that Dante is more vulnerable when swinging stronger weapons, since the animation takes longer.

Perhaps one of the weaker aspects to combat is how Dante automatically locks on to enemies. At times it becomes difficult to focus on a specific demon, since it seems to lock on to the nearest demon. This also causes some very minor issues with awkward camera angles. It’s not exactly a deal breaker, but it feels like it could have benefited from a lock on system that allowed the player to control it. However, the dodging feature is extremely handy and does a superb job of making sure that players can easily build up some impressive combos.

Combos are the life essence of the Devil May Cry video-games. Dmc does a very good job of making the player feel accomplished after reaching impressive combos. The simple controls makes sure that anyone can build up to an impressive combo rank. However, only those that can make use of everything the combat system has to offer, can attain respectable combo ranks. Dante’s trademark Devil Trigger power also makes a comeback, but it doesn’t feel like it’s particularly helpful outside of boss battles. This is due to the fact that it makes enemies float in the air and only lasts for a short period of time.

There are various kind of demons to go up against throughout the story. Some of them even require paying special attention to any weaknesses and attack patterns. This is particularly true during the boss fights, where Dante needs to exploit every weakness found to survive.

Fighting Demons is an enjoyable aspect of DmC, but the agility based sections are one of the highlights. These often make use of abilities that Dante learns along the way, such as the demon pull or angel grab. It’s fairly simple to get through these sections, but still satisfying due to how it is presented. Specially later on into the story where it’s necessary to make use of both demon and angel based abilities at once.

Dante can earn points that are used towards earning new upgrades. These upgrades cover weapons and any abilities that are linked to them. What is fascinating hough, is the possibility to remove upgrades. This creates the opportunity to upgrade weapons that will benefit Dante in the current mission. It’s certainly an unique way to give player the freedom to dynamically change strategy based on what challenges lie ahead.

As a visual experience, DmC certainly knows how to put on a show. The fact that the very city is attempting to crush Dante never gets old. See, the city may seem like a great place to live on the surface, but it’s actually more like a human livestock farm for its demon overlords. The demonic Mundus and his band of demons have full control over the city. It’s an interesting concept that makes use of current world problems, such as consumerism and misuse of the media.

Perhaps that is what makes DmC such an engaging experience. It’s the fact that the story actually feels coherent enough to follow. There is a surprising amount of swearing in the script and some rather disturbing scenes. But it is all done in a manner that ends up being quite amusing to witness.

The real fun begins when Dante is pulled into the true nature of the city. The very concept of a city that is attempting to protect itself is fascinating. It’s never easy to know exactly what will happen next. Each of the locations that the various missions take place in offers new sights. Perhaps it’s unfair to say so, but it feels like the story hit a creativity peak about halfway through.

Not to say that it becomes any worse towards the end. It’s just that it feels like there is so much creativity being pumped out up to a level set in a flashy night club. It becomes that much tougher to feel like anything after can live up to what was experienced in this level. The use of colour and the way that the level is designed is truly inspiring. In fact, DmC as a whole is a very pleasant visual treat and it’s obvious that the team put a lot of effort into making it as surreal as possible.

Noisia do a great job when it comes to the soundtrack. It is probably not to everyone’s taste, but is a perfect representation of the surreal experience provided by Ninja Theory. It’s a good combination of aggressive music tracks, such as the superb dance track that plays in Lilith’s club level, and slower tracks typically associated with this sort of video-game.

The story doesn’t exactly take a long time to finish, but it feels like just about the right amount of time. It’s complimented with all the secret missions, extra difficulty settings that will test the patience of even the best players and all sorts of other collectibles. There is certainly a lot of replay value and there is always the incentive of trying to improve scores and compete in the online leader boards.

DmC is a fantastic experience that contains plenty of mesmerising moments. However, it feels somewhat like it could have been better, if it wasn’t so content with sticking to more or less the same formula throughout the whole story. Specially when some of its best moments come from levels that feel more unique, such as the club.

But DmC is still a fantastic new entry in the Devil May Cry video-games. Capcom took a gamble by giving control of the franchise to an external developer, but it was worth it. Ninja Theory proves that it can handle such a beloved franchise, whilst also adding its trader-mark artistic flair that made video-games like Enslaved feel so unique. DmC is a successful experiment that is worth playing just for the surreal visuals.

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