STAFF REVIEW of DMC: Devil May Cry (Xbox 360)

Friday, January 25, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

DMC: Devil May Cry Box art When the new redesign of Dante was first shown off back in 2010, to say there was a backlash from long standing Devil May Cry fans would have been an understatement. Dante, the protagonist of the series has always had a very distinct look and feel about him, and when Capcom announced a new Devil May Cry game was coming, dubbed simply DmC: Devil May Cry, there was a huge uproar as it seems the iconic style of Dante has been changed so dramatically that he wasn’t even somewhat similar to the original Dante.

Capcom has its reasons though, as DmC is a reboot of the franchise, so what better excuse to re-envision not only the world and story of Dante, but the appearance of himself as well. It was quite surprising to see the initial reaction of fans to the new look of Dante and how negative most people seemed to be about a simple appearance change. Needless to say, Capcom had a lot to prove once the game was released to show that the game itself would be able to appease long standing fans of the series. To do so, Capcom enlisted the help of Ninja Theory to develop this new vision of the Devil May Cry universe. Ninja Theory is best known for Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (my personal favorite game of 2010) and once I learned they were the ones behind the new Devil May Cry, my worries were laid to rest. Team members from the original games have also helped in this new DmC to work alongside Ninja Theory, so it’s not something as simple as Capcom passing the torch to someone else without some backup.

Rest assured, as DmC: Devil May Cry retains all of the awesome combat and action that the series is known for. Dante himself might have changed in appearance, but he still has his signature cockiness to him, but he’s now more realistic with not only his looks, but his actions as well. The game is still a hack and slash game at its core but the art and level design has made it slightly different from the previous DmC games you might remember. The backdrop setting is more contemporary and is set in an alternate reality in the game’s series. This new take on Devil May Cry is done from a Western perspective as opposed to the previous games. This makes the backdrop, setting, characters, and even gameplay different from the other games, though that’s not a bad thing. It’s clear the new Dante is trying to appeal to a younger and more modern audience and it only works because of the fantastic work done Ninja Theory has done to make the world just as believable and fitting.

As this is a reboot of the series, the essentials are unchanged when it comes to Dante, his brother Vergil, and the demon king Mundus for the most part, but the new art direction is a welcome change and the backdrops are much more modern and visceral. The game starts off with Dante waking up with a hangover after a mysterious girl knocks on his door with a warning about Hunter Demon that has found him. Suddenly Dante is whisked away into a seemingly alternate dimension, called Limbo, where the modern city looks transformed into a twisted reality filled with demons and monsters out to kill Dante. The mysterious woman has been sent to help Dante so that he can meet the leader of “The Order”, which the public in the real world think they are terrorists. In reality, The Order is fighting off the demons in Limbo and against a much more nefarious evil set loose in the world.

Dante learns that he’s the son of a demon, Sparda, and an angel, Eva. Dante is known as a Nephilim, the offspring of a demon and angel, and he is being hunted by the demon lord Mundus, as Dante is the only one who is able to stop his plans. In the original game, Dante was half human instead of angel, so this is another twist Capcom has put on this reimagining and because of this change, there is a big mechanic change to the combat as well, which I’ll get into shortly.

Being pulled into Limbo by demons, or willingly entering to help The Order, Dante will experience a truly living, albeit twisted, world that is trying to kill him any chance it gets. In Limbo, the environment will constantly change, trying to trap or kill Dante any chance it gets. Not only does Dante have to worry about the demons that are sent to kill him, but the living world of Limbo as well. The art direction and style that Limbo is portrayed is done fantastically and you never really know what to expect, as it’s not always as simple as getting from point A to point B when Limbo opens a giant chasm, making it impossible to pass. While the heart of the game is in the deep combat, a good portion of navigating through Limbo will now have Dante trying to platform correctly throughout it. It’s a welcome change of pace now and then, getting a small break from button mashing to having to find the correct path in the changing world of Limbo.

Being a Nephilim, Dante has not only the powers of a demon, but an angel as well. Once Dante comes to terms with what he is, he also unlocks new abilities and weapons to help him survive against Limbo and the demons that reside within. Dante will eventually have many weapons and even more abilities to help him on his journey, but the classic Dante weaponry returns, along with new toys and abilities to slay demons in Limbo. Dante’s signature sword ‘Rebellion’ and twin pistols ‘Ebony and Ivory’ return for the classic DmC gameplay you’ve come to enjoy over the years, but Dante has plenty of new weapons at his disposal once unlocked as well.

Rather than the standard inventory with weapons to select, Dante instead has an Angel Mode and a Devil Mode that are activated by holding one of the trigger buttons. In Devil Mode, Dante’s Rebellion is replaced with a hulking Axe known as ‘Arbiter’ that is much slower but incredibly more powerful and able to penetrate shields and defenses. Angel Mode grants Dante a large scythe named ‘Osiris’ that isn’t meant for massive hits, but instead many smaller and quicker ones to act as a crowd control. These different modes can also be used to help Dante traverse through Limbo as well. Devil Mode will allow Dante to latch onto specific objects and pull them towards him, allowing for new platforms and pathways. Angel Mode will allow Dante to pull himself towards the object that he has latched onto instead. These moves can be used in conjunction with each other to help you pass some large gaps and even used on and against enemies to keep your combos going for a better score.

As you fight demons in combat, your style rank will continue to increase the longer you keep your combo going. In order from worst to best ranks are Dirty, Cruel, Brutal, Anarchic, Savage, SSadistic, and finally SSSensational, for those that truly get a hang of all the strategic complexities of the combat mechanics. The combat I found was much easier to perform in comparison to the original games, but that could also be because of the much more depth and options given to you with the personalized upgrade paths for your weapons and abilities. There’s a point a few missions in where you’ll have to go from simple button mashing to very specific combat strategies, as certain enemies can only be harmed with specific weapons or attacks.

As you defeat demons and make your way through Limbo, you’ll be gathering souls; some to use as a currency for upgrades, and others to recover health and other items. With a plethora of upgrades for every weapon and your base abilities, you can really customize Dante’s move sets to the way you want to play. I like being much more nimble and quick, so I upgraded Osiris as much as I could first. The beauty is not only being able to pick the moves that you use the most often, but Ninja Theory also got many of the small things right that many games seems to still get wrong to this day. You can test new abilities out in a practice arena before committing to them. After choosing a skill and simply not finding it as useful as you initially thought? No problem, refund any of your upgrade points at any time to put into other weapon or ability upgrades without any sort of penalty. It’s a small thing that many might not notice, but there’s nothing worse than wasting upgrade points for something you regret later; luckily that’s not a worry in DmC.

Two electronica groups compose the soundtrack with their modern and metal beats that fit the Limbo world so well; Noisia and Combichrist. The voice acting is superb and Dante’s specifically is done to the point of being fully believable. I really only had two complaints overall with DmC. The first being the camera that always seems to not show an enemy charging up about to hit you, resulting in much unneeded health loss. The second is a lack of a lock on system. Sometimes you want to specifically target a certain demon, but doing that manually isn’t always the easiest when you’re surrounded by a dozen or more enemies at a time.

I’ve only played the first two Devil May Cry games, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this reboot in a drastically new direction. Though you may not agree with Dante’s redesign, give DmC: Devil May Cry a shot, as many of the gripes are grossly exaggerated. There are a slew of hidden collectables and a ranking system that will entice you to replay levels for a better score (complete with online leaderboards). It’s not just a simple button mashing combat game either, DmC has some great platforming elements within and this game is easily my favorite out of the series so far.

DmC has great combat mechanics, a great soundtrack and voice acting, and a story that keeps its paces without boring you along the way; the game even allows you to fully customize every single button to your preferences which very few games do these days. You may know the origin of Dante previously, but you’ve not seen Dante in this kind of light, but you should; just don’t get stuck in Limbo.

Overall: 9.2 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.2 / 10


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