Capcom is an interesting place. Since this console generation, a lot of their staff, who created their top franchises in the past, have left the company and the gaming world has developed more of a taste for Western-style video games.
To combat this dilemma, Capcom has begun to hire Western developers to create follow-ups to their popular franchises instead of trying to guess what the gaming world wants. The latest is the Devil May Cry series which now finds itself in the hands of Ninja Theory, the studio that made Enslaved, located in Cambridge England.
So what can you expect from this reboot other than fans crying over Dante’s new look?
Find out after the jump.
DmC: Devil May Cry
Systems: Playstation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Developer: Ninja Theory
Release: January 15, 2012, January 25 2012 [PC]
When Capcom revealed the new Devil May Cry reboot and its developer Ninja theory, I was one of the concerned fans. Not because of Dante’s new look or the game’s direction, but because Ninja Theory hasn’t had a history of making good games. Well, let me rephrase that – Ninja Theory makes great looking games filled with imaginative worlds and strongly written characters. They excel at the presentation side, it’s just that strong gameplay has never been a part of their past games. Heavenly Sword misses the point about modern hack-n-slashers and Enslaved basically plays itself at times. Since Devil May Cry is all about presentation and strong gameplay, I was intrigued to see how Ninja Theory would reinterpret Dante’s world, but worried that they would royally screw up the fighting.
It turns out I shouldn’t have been so worried. While Capcom gave Ninja Theory plenty of leeway in development, they have also gave them a lot of direction in terms of the combat.
The collaboration definitely shows, as elements from past DMC and Ninja Theory games are woven into the new reboot. Dante has access to his trademark sword and pair of handguns, but can also switch between demon and angel weapons on the fly by holding down one of the shoulder buttons. You get two angel weapons, two demon weapons, and three different firearms that can be switched up by pressing up on the d pad. To top it off, you also have a grapple hook thing that lets you pull yourself towards objects or enemies or pull objects and enemies towards you.
This setup is very accessible and encourages you to improvise on the fly. In no time, you’ll be zipping from enemy to enemy, attacking them with multiple weapons and juggling them in the air while avoiding attacks on the ground. There’s no need to switch weapons in menus so there is no real slow down in fights, except when you want to use healing items. The game rates you on how well you perform in combat, and rewards you with points to unlock abilities as an incentive to get those “S” and “SSS” rankings.
Ninja Theory gets combat mostly right, but a few quirks still bothered me about it. I’m not going to complain about the whole thirty frames a second thing, but the game is noticeably stiffer compared past DMC games. Dante feels a bit sluggish recovering from attacks, and while he has a dodge similar to Bayonetta (you even get bonus damage for dodging at the last second) it isn’t as reliable. The camera is also kind of wonky and doesn’t always follow the action, which is really annoying especially when you are facing teleporting enemies. The game shines when you are fighting multiple enemies with different weaknesses, but every now and then the game will throw in enemies who are only susceptible to either angel or demon weapons, severely limiting the combat options.
Not sure if this is going to be a negative for everybody, but I did find the game a bit too easy. I don’t consider myself skilled at action games, but I do like the challenge they give. However, I breezed through my first play through and was disappointed at the lack of challenge. Luckily I gave the Dante Must Die difficulty a try and found a nice challenge there.
Outside of combat, you’ll be spending your time navigating levels as you move from fighting to story segments. Level design is rather simple but very interesting at the same time, at least in the early levels.
The game world is divided between the human realm and Limbo, where the environment is abstract and everything is out to kill you. You’ll use the grappling hook to pull yourself through the air or arrange platforms to traverse on. It’s all very imaginative and pretty. One moment you’ll be in a news broadcast and the next you’ll be flinging enemies into an upside down subway train that’s speeding overhead.
The levels and game itself are designed to be played and explored at least three times. On your first play through there’s plenty of secret and not so secret locations that can only be accessed with equipment you don’t yet have. In addition, there are challenge rooms that are unlocked with keys you find in the levels. It feels like an obvious way to pad playtime, but it’s not too intrusive since you can skip the story cutscenes.
Speaking of story, what’s here falls a bit flat. Ninja Theory is known for sharp writing in their games, but it’s a bit dull in DmC. We follow the origins of Dante and Vergil as they try to overthrow the big bad who has almost complete control of the human world. Instead of the campy lore from the past games, we get social commentary on soda consumption, mind control by demons, and sensationalist news media. Cutscenes rely on dialog and facial expressions rather than over the top action scenes. The overall story is clear to follow, but feels like an unambitious treatment of the source material especially when you consider Ninja Theory’s past work.
And the new Dante is kind of a dick, though he does goes through a character arc where he grows and redeems himself by the end of the game. He was off-putting at first, but grows to a point where you gain an understanding of his character. He isn’t the drugged out gritty Dante as seen in the first reveal images, but not quite the “old Dante” either. Though I still prefer the old Dante, to be honest.
To best sum up the new DmC experience would be the phrase adequate with small bursts of greatness. The combat and enemy arrangement is great at times but never really elevates itself to anything special. The story is well told but there wasn’t much for me to latch onto and get invested in. If you appreciate the combat then it’s worth replaying a few times to get the most of it, but if you don’t think you’ll be swayed by the combat or story then you’ll probably only play through it once. The new DmC is a fully adequate Western reinterpretation of a Japanese classic, but I’m not sure if adequate will be enough to reinvigorate old fans and invite new ones. But hey, at least it isn’t a disaster like DMC2.
The game’s opening assaults you with images of strippers dressed up in skimpy angel and demon outfits. Dante being the kind of guy he is decides to take two of these girls to spend the night with in his trailer. The morning after, there’s a scene with Dante that’s kinda sexy and kinda funny which I don’t want spoil. From then on, there isn’t anything exciting to write about outside of the occasional nude and genitalia-less blue demon enemies.
Sadly, there are no bad ass women like Trish or Lady in the past DMC games. Instead we get Kat, who has a cute smile, a cute butt, and wears cute shorts. As you can see, she’s more cute than sexy. The writing for Kat is really good, and she comes off as the girl next door type. She’s mostly used as your portal opener to Limbo and serves as a plot device to humanize Dante by getting herself kidnapped and letting Dante emotionally latch on to her and, by proxy, humanity itself.
So yes, Kat is cute and pushes all those “I find this girl endearing and I want to protect her” buttons. This game is a far cry from the ridiculous sexiness in the past games, especially some of the stuff that happens in DMC4. I am looking forward to cosplays of Kat though.
– Sullivan O. Bradley