Developers: Ninja Theory.
Release Date: January 15, 2013 (X360/PS3) – January 25, 2013 (PC).
System: X360, PS3, PC.
DmC Review (PS3)
by Bryan G (Alaska_Gamer)
It can be pretty hard to reboot a franchise. Especially one with a fan base that is attached to that franchise to the point of yelling and screaming as hard as they can when that franchise goes in a direction they don’t like at all. After over two years since its “controversial” reveal, DmC Devil May Cry is out. While I’m not the best at them, I understand what the Devil May Cry games are about and appreciate the fact there’s that much depth to its systems. So how does this new one compare?
As a DMC game, it’s obviously not on the same level. That was at least to be expected given the bold and different direction the game was heading in, in terms of presentation and gameplay. But what about as a character action game? How does it compare to the likes of other great titles in the genre? It’s better than average, and there’s potential for something great, but it makes several mistakes that keep it from being a great action game, and as a result kept me from really enjoying it.
At the start, there are elements of Devil May Cry gameplay that are recognizable. You’ve got Dante’s signature weapon Rebellion, and his firearms Ebony and Ivory, and the moves you have with them are straight out of original DMC. You’ve got moves like Stinger (which can go into Trillion Stab), High Time, Helm Breaker, and so on. The way you execute your attacks is different though, as there is no lock on, there’s an evade button (two actually), and a second attack button that usually works as that weapon’s launcher. Attacks in general are a bit slower than their original versions, but the base combat works well. The combat being as well designed as it is makes this the best playing Ninja Theory game to date.
Presentation wise, the look and style of DmC, or rather the commitment Ninja Theory makes to that style, is the most striking part about the game. Things like the soundtrack from Noisia and Combichrist, vivid colors and crazy environmental shifting in Limbo, and very clever cutscene presentation. They take things in interesting directions regardless of whether you like the tone they’ve set or not, and I find that pretty commendable.
And now for the things the game does wrong. At least wrong by the standards I hold for this genre, so some of these things may not bother most players very much.
As I said above, the core combat is well built, and is better than the combat of something like God of War and all its derivatives. The problems come into play as the game goes on that, again, keep it from being really great by action game standards, not just Devil May Cry’s. First, while the lack of lock-on doesn’t appear to be much of an issue, the auto targeting will have you attacking an enemy that you weren’t trying to aim for, especially when flying enemies are thrown into the mix. Second, the color coded enemies that require the use of Angel and Demon weapons is not a bad idea, but the implementation really hurts the combat by forcing you to fight them in a very specific way. Angel weapons are weak but fast and easy to combo. Demon weapons are strong, but are super slow and don’t have very much combo potential. And you have to hit those enemies with that type of weapon or the hit won’t register. Blue enemies take too long to kill, and Red enemies don’t give much room for combo potential, other than abusing Trinity Smash after a demon dodge to increase your style rank by absurd amounts.
Speaking of which, this is more of a DMC specific issue than an action genre issue, but the style rank system is busted. Nothing about it motivates me to create ridiculous and varied combos like Devil May Cry 3 did. So long as you don’t get hit, that style rank will stay there, and by abusing the powerful attacks of demon weapons you can get high rankings in a short amount of time. The game in general is pretty easy, even on Nephilim, which is the hardest difficulty available. While it did provide challenge in some spots, it was closer to the easy modes of past DMCs. Boss fights are very disappointing, being extremely boring and predictable without much variety in their moves. And the general design of the game is very impressive on the first run with all the crazy shifting environments and design of Limbo, but its set piece driven and interspersed with tons of mini cutscenes to the point that replaying the game on higher difficulties and looking for secret mission doors is a huge chore.
The story itself is a whole issue, and one that I’m not gonna spoil for obvious reasons. Ninja Theory had proven the thing they’re best at is their storytelling and use of motion capture. This game’s story does not live up to that. Their interpretation of Dante is the least of people’s complaints, heck he’s probably the best character in the whole game. It’s not any better than past DMC stories, and that almost makes it way worse than those stories because of the idea that Ninja Theory could improved on that aspect. And they didn’t.
With all those problems I have with the game, it’s not to say it doesn’t have its high points. The opening scenes and level makes a strong first impression, Mission 13 takes place in Limbo’s version of a nightclub that is amazing in terms of both sound and visuals. At least one enemy in the game is really challenging and fun to fight. And again, the combat is generally fun and plays better than what Ninja Theory has put out in the past. As much as this game has disappointed me by what I expect of the genre, I would not object to the idea of DmC 2 if they addressed the problems with the game. The game could have been something very special, and for most people not familiar with the series or the genre, it might actually be special. But in my experience with the game I was not reeling to go through it again for 100% completion. The potential for a great game is in DmC, but it’s held back from being truly great and is just a good action game. Hey, it really could have turned out a lot worse than it did. Quite an accomplishment considering all the drama that’s surrounded this game.