Platform: X-Box 360 / Price: £35.99 / Time Played: 10+ Hours
Let’s clear the elephant in the room up first – New Dante.
Because to be honest, in spite of the game being actually rather good, New Dante is pretty much the make or break point of the entire game for most people. Some approve of the redesign, enjoying a more punked-down and jarring Dante, whilst others were more appreciative of his old ethereal charm, looks and angelic-white hair. Dante is still more or less the same – a nice kind of douche – just New Dante has a bitter edge to him, one which seems to have mellowed out of Old Dante. There is a DLC coming that adds Old Dante back in for those who really couldn’t come to terms with their beloved hero being turned into effectively a Twilight-style character, but asking these people who already felt upset to pay more money on top for what they think was an unnecessary change does feel like they are being more insulted than before. Given time, maybe they could have come to terms with an origins tale where Dante isn’t the dapper, dashing sort they have come to know and love (although, Devil May Cry 3… hmm…), but offering to sell them the Old Dante will most likely just keep them at bay, rather than increase the sales of the game.
So yes, it does depend on if you like New Dante. I’m okay with it. Change happens.
Anyway, the game was farmed out to UK-based Ninja Theory, and whilst they may not have loads of releases under their belt – it was a good choice. Heavenly Sword was alright, and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a much-overlooked gem of a game. The decision to put their own stamp on the game does sound a little surprising when you consider the fanatical following that the series does have and continues to have, but what they came up with is a deeply flawed gem. It’s not perfect, by a long way. But it’s still a gem.
You might be surprised by that, but the problem DmC – Devil May Cry has is that it was once king of the genre, ruler of all it surveyed. And then Platinum Games came along with Bayonetta and scorned the Devil May Cry series out of the room. The first thing that I got from this new DmC was – it’s very like Bayonetta. In a good, nice, friendly way but it still in style and tone has this undeniable eye on The Bullet Witch herself, and I guess that’s fine. I have no problem with catching up to Bayonetta, especially considering she’s getting a sequel very soon as well so something like DmC has a bit of ground to cover, latching on and hoping to gain some ground isn’t the worst idea they could have had. But Bayonetta was polished to a mirror shine; I’ve played Bayonetta to death really. Bayonetta is the sort of game where you curse yourself, rather than the game, for not getting things right. In DmC, it’s the other way around at times…
The plot is fun however - a demon king named Mundus currently rules the human world. Unbeknownst to us but knownst to him, we’re all silent slaves kept in check with fear-mongering media, big brother-style surveillance and terribly unhealthy soft drinks fattening us up. Oh wait… no, no, this IS the plot. You know, I was a little worried there because it’s pretty much on the nail, aside the whole demon king thing (although that might explain the EU…). Anyway, Dante is recruited into an attempt to overthrow Mundus by his brother, Vergil. On the way, Dante will learn and grow up and mature and yadda yadda boring stuff we don’t actually care about in a game like this. The first part of the plot is more than enough to ground DmC and give you a cause to fight for, which is the first hurdle completed.
The combat is a star, but it’s not without its flaws. At times it is dangerously similar to the graceful ebb and flow of Bayonetta, as you can flick between New Dante and our trusty sword and pistols, Devil Mode – stronger, meaner but slower and more deliberately methodical, with a huge two-hander, and Angel Mode; dual-wield, fast and excitable, but with less power. Being able to flow through each for abilities to chain together delivers a combat system that sometimes makes you think that the King is back, racking up the stylish and wonderful combos that the series is known for, but then – there are always problems. There is no lock-on, so in the chaos – and at times it is utter chaos – of combat, trying to pick on a particular enemy can be like trying to smack a fly with a newspaper – the damned thing won’t stay still long enough for you to smoosh it to death! Especially if they are flying, which then becomes a bit of a pain in the backside and in combat, when you’re trying to upkeep a particularly good combo chain? This really is an unforgivable omission from the formula, a noticeable omission, an omission that screams out at you many many times during combat. You begin to really dislike the omission. It can at times consume and that’s dangerous when the game is already a bit love and hate already, but you do slowly get used to it. That’s not to say that you can forgive it not being there. You can’t really. But eh, it’s a bit late now.
The game oozes style and class, from the familiar human world to the demon realm, there’s plenty of imagination and flair throughout and everything has that kind of knowing swagger that really reminds you of that huge scene in Kill Bill, where The Bride chops her way through two-thirds of a Yakuza Army. Which is pretty high praise. But like Quentin Tarantino, the style and flow is broken up by some of the most unnecessary one-liners and quips and speech that just isn’t needed. Dante himself seems to think he’s some kind of comedian – we laughed when he said he was going to be funny. Well, we’re not laughing now. It’s just not needed and at times can be crude and vulgar and just mean, and I understand the why of it, I just think it hasn’t been handled very well.
Similarly, the game flows much like older Devil May Cry games, but comes with dreaded Platforming bits. And the person responsible for deciding to add platforming segments into this game needs to be slapped across the face, repeatedly, whilst being forced to listen to the entire back catalogue of Girls Aloud on repeat for twenty-four hours. They are horrible and terrible and must be taken out back behind the shed and shot. And yet again, and Capcom are regulars for this, the camera is just a massive pain at times. It gets stuck, or it doesn’t move as you want it to, and it’s always annoying when that happens. You’d think this was a major concern for Ninja Theory, but seems not, and it’s a real shame.
But I still like DmC: Devil May Cry. I do. It’s just mad enough and just stylish enough and just fun enough to be a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining romp. It gets weaker and runs out of steam towards the end, but five increasingly punishing difficulty levels will certainly give traditional fans of the series a real run for their money, especially without the lock-on. The plot just runs out of puff too, kind of getting a bit too predictable and safe as the game reaches its conclusion. The imagination runs out a little too. But it’s still fun. You can just about forgive DmC its flaws because there is something about it that is quite hard to dislike, even New Dante – as big a knob as he his really – has an undeniably nice feel to him.
But we must be honest about it. Bayonetta has been here for some time, and there’s no evolving from the template here – just lots of loving imitation. And that’s absolutely fine, every Queen needs her King, but DmC isn’t quite good enough to sit at her side still. The game is just a bit too slapdash in places, with things that desperately needed work before it came back to get its nose bloodied again. Bayonetta 2 is coming out on the Wii-U hopefully this year (rumours state Fall 2013, but we shall see!), and even Platinum Games will have a job to overshadow their previous work. Bayonetta just is. It’s there. And it’s still the best the brawler genre has to offer really.
DmC isn’t anywhere close to competing. But that’s fine. This doesn’t make it bad. It just means that it’s still got some way to go before it can truly stare down the Bullet Witch in a proper clash of the titans. You can’t escape the feeling DmC was a little rushed in the end. What we’ve got is a very good game, unless you’re dead set on being one of those people who wants to finish all the difficulty modes available in this game in which case enjoy and remember to see the doctor next week when you’ve broken every bone in your hand punching the wall and/or floor. But it still feels… something feels off. Maybe it is that it isn’t quite perfect, it’s still an awkward beast at heart, but I think for me it is that this whole new reboot needs longer in the oven. DmC is a little underbaked. A little doughy. It just needs more time to really rise and become what it could eventually be – a proper King, to sit alongside Bayonetta as Queen.
DmC is a stop along the road that needs to be travelled. Well worth a play. But no. Not perfect. Not by any measure.
- Amazing Graphics.
- Great, imaginative design.
- Great boss fights.
- Mostly great combat.
- Camera can be a pain.
- Some frustrating bugs.
- Some terrible platforming bits.
- No Lock-On And All Fight Makes Kami A Horrid Man…
- The humour is very hit and miss.
- New Dante vs Old Dante debate.
- Feels a lot like Bayonetta too many times.
- It just runs out of steam to the end.
OVERALL CONCLUSION – Yay! (Minus)
DmC is certainly not a waste of money, it’s a great reboot of a familiar franchise. It’s not perfect no – perhaps a missed opportunity, but a clean and interesting start to a new direction for the series. Fans should love that it feels quite traditional, but they’ll probably hate the lack of lock-on for precision fighting. Newcomers will love the crazy style and looks, but the personality might underwhelm slightly. And if you never liked Devil May Cry… well… perhaps this is one to avoid. It’s not the highlight of the franchise… but hey, coming from a franchise which gave us DMC2, trust me, this could have been worse. Much, much, MUCH worse!