Devil May Cry review

DmC

It started as a faster paced sequel to Resident Evil, and now it restarts again, but does Dante still have his best tricks?

Yes, that’s right, one of the gaming world’s worst kept secrets; Devil May Cry was originally part of the Resident Evil series until Capcom realised it was different enough to be its own franchise. Four games later, it’s time to reboot the series, with a new look for protagonist Dante, a new universe to inhabit, and that damn Mundus is back for another fight.

Fans will moan at the change of visuals; Dante no longer sporting his trademark white Bieber hair, and the world in which he inhabits is new again. He, a Nephilim, half demon half angel, is regularly ‘dragged’ into Limbo, the demon world, and is tasked with wiping them out, from the lowliest foot soldiers to the god, Mundus, sitting at the top of the highest tower, pulling the strings of humanity and keeping them passive and under control. Dante fights for our freedom, with the help of his brother, Virgil, and human witch, Kat. Yup, it’s a familiar enough story for us to kind of already know what’s coming, but it’s the journey that counts.

Combat is a very tight skill points earning twitch fest that rewards variation in your attacks, and weapons used to defeat your foes. A little too quickly for my taste, new features are thrust into your arsenal, from the quicker Angel weapons (helpfully colour coded blue) to the hard hitting but slower Demon ones (you guess it; red), and it certainly will take you some time to master the combat. Through the game more weapons are added to your collection, not forgetting the firearms, and while learning all of their benefits and issues you’re also choosing upgrades to unlock; new moves that complicate the move set further. When you do get used to it though, that’s what keeps the gameplay feeling genuinely engaging. The moment when you pull off a ridiculous combination of air juggling and powerful attacks on a helpless enemy lives on with you, and telegraphs your success by flashing up how well you’ve done with the usual D to SSS ranking system.

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Beyond the fighting

The whole concept of reboots irritates my sense of mythology and episodic storytelling. Sure, you may be invested in the characters and plot, but replacing them and starting from scratch forces us to ignore what went before, and hope that you’ll like this new scenario as much as the one you originally fell in love with. Developer Ninja Theory have been brought in to ‘westernise’ the franchise, and in many ways that have made the whole thing a lot more cinematic than the previous iterations.

Time sensitive set pieces seem to be prevalent here, with some great events such as escaping collapsing areas, or clearing a car’s path from danger in slow motion being welcome breaks from other gameplay. Despite Dante moving well, hooking himself on to grappling points or pulling platforms into place, the game rarely shows off a platforming prowess opting instead to dock you a segment of your health bar upon falling to your death, which I can only account on platforming not being DmC’s strong point. At least the grappling hook can be used against your enemies too, either pulling you towards them, vice versa, or just ripping any shields out of their hands.

A linear mission based system that ran me around 16 hours on the medium difficulty, the campaign is the only side to Devil May Cry. There are a number of secrets and hidden objects dotted around, however, that will encourage replays, from more useless ‘Lost Souls’ that simply increase your final score, to the keys and doors that lead to secret missions; challenges that must be completed for a nice boost item of some kind. While that will keep you entertained on the short term, it’s the extra unlocks once you’ve completed the game that truly bring extra value.

DmCsonofsparda

Restart again

Sure, you may be starting the whole campaign over again, but with tougher enemies and altered enemy patterns, the unlockable Son of Sparda mode does give you a nice bit of variation if you do want to keep playing. Complete that and there’s an even harder version of the game, and after that Heaven and Hell mode gives both you and your foes a one hit death, culminating in the Hell and Hell mode, which gives you normal enemies and a one hit death yourself. Needless to say, if you’re still playing after this many challenges, you’re going to need to have perfected your techniques. The more you play, the more you unlock new concept art for performing certain feats, such as killing a certain number of enemies with a certain weapon, but it keeps drip feeding you rewards, even when you’re not really trying.

As each enemy is revealed to you, it’s generally a tough moment, as you figure out whatever combinations of attacks, or clever timing will allow you to defeat it. Much like the bosses, in fact; it’s always down to the attack pattern, which means when I restarted the game on a harder difficulty, I found it a lot easier than the first time I was playing through. Indeed, once you’ve got a handle on your foes, it becomes a simpler case of figuring out which enemy to kill first, and how to keep the others busy, or indeed just avoid them, while you focus your efforts.

While the series has always had a great emphasis on ridiculous and exciting boss battles, DmC doesn’t put it all front and centre. Sure, enormous hulking demons will challenge you, and some of them are exciting and varied events, but some rely on the simplest of twists, such as punching a zone on the floor or hooking onto a specific part of their anatomy. What may have been a complete nightmare, without causing any damage can suddenly become an easy case of button mashing, when you stumble upon the solution. Sure, a lot of these encounters boil down to avoiding the highly telegraphed attack and using that grapple again, it seems like there are far less of them than in the previous games.

DmC-1

Devil Will Cry

Dante kicks some serious ass, and isn’t that the ultimate pull of these games? The story weaves simply but effectively between the missions, and though you think you’ve heard the story before, there is enough change here to justify the reboot, yet enough similar that if you’ve enjoyed the previous Devil May Cry games, you’re bound to find satisfaction here.

It’s an enjoyable and varied fast paced action adventure. If you can get over Dante becoming awfully more generic, it’s a game worth playing. Sure, even when installed to the hard drive there are still moments of texture pop up (or rather fade in), but the visuals are exciting and detailed. Especially since the setting seems to have become much less generic.

Game details

Title: Devil May Cry
Reviewed on:Xbox 360
Available on: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Capcom
Strengths: More Devil May Cry, but not just more of the same. Plenty of reason to replay.
Weaknesses: Once you've 'mastered' an enemy, it can feel like fighting the same battles again.
Score: 8/10

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