DmC Devil May Cry – Game Analysis and Review
By Patrick Newman
Developers: Ninja Theory (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), QLOC (PC)
Producers: Motohide Eshiro, Alex Jones
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: January 15, 2013 (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), January 24, 2013 (PC)
Genre: Hack and Slash
UK developer Ninja Theory’s westernized re-imagining of the fruitful Devil May Cry series has been met with a lot of initial skepticism from franchise fans, since many argued the characters hit their apex with Devil May Cry 3. Good news, then, that DmC is a surprising victory of both style and substance, providing yet another compelling examination of the Dante/Virgil brotherhood dynamic, top-notch production design, and familiar combat controls that still elevate the experience a notch or two from what’s come before. The polarities and throwbacks combine to make Devil May Cry an experience both unique and of a piece with the others.
Though he’s hung up the red Dracula trench and now sports a more down-to-earth hairstyle, the hero of this new incarnation is still recognizably Dante, bearing all of the insane combat skills (welcome back, twin pistols!) and seduction powers (the opening has him in bed with two women) we’ve come to expect from the character. Wisely choosing to organize much of the game’s narrative behind the Vergil/Dante partnership, it becomes clear early on that only a fusion of each brothers mixed angel and demon ancestry have a hope of defeating Mundus, the demon king and main antagonist of DmC.
The default combat mode for Dante is “human” as he progresses through each mission wielding his main sword, Rebellion, as well as Ebony and Ivory (the aforementioned pistols). Much more interestingly, however, the game also gives him distinct alternate forms that can be activated by holding down one of the trigger buttons – Angel and Demon mode. Though Ninja Theory neglected to import Devil May Cry 3’s myriad selectable combat styles, the higher difficulties and skill trees of this new game give franchise veterans plenty to do, without potentially alienating newcomers with 3’s outwardly daunting combat mechanics.
While in Angel mode, Dante trades Rebellion for “Osiris” a fast-moving scythe. In Angel mode he can pull himself towards enemies and dash across huge chasms, while in Devil mode he uses the slower, heftier “Arbiter” melee weapon, and can pull enemies and objects towards himself. The moves distinct to each combat mode can be chained together into satisfying combos, which can be used to store power for “Devil Trigger” mode – a time-slowing maneuver great for quickly clearing a room of enemies. As with other Devil May Cry titles, the souls Dante collects can be used to purchase items, recover health and buy new moves.
Dante’s new ability to make on-the-fly switches between fighting modes lends a ton of variety to the combat, since there isn’t any limit to switching between Angel and Demon modes. Technically, with DmC it is possible (and I had a blast doing it) to employ every weapon in Dante’s arsenal within the space of a single combo, or until you’re the last man standing and the room is clear. The incentive to earn style points has also increased with this game, since the moves with accompanying point values are visible on the right side of the screen, in real time during gameplay.
In setting the story in Limbo City, a demon-controlled contemporary society where human denizens are unknowingly brainwashed into compliance, the game works in some social commentary worthy of a Rockstar production. The demons of this game are just avatars for the recession-fraught times in which we live, and so the demons are used much in the same way as the aliens were used in “They Live” or the FedNet newsreels were used in Starship Troopers – magnifying and extrapolating the worst tendencies of our media-saturated culture for satire’s sake. DmC might not be exactly nuanced, but it definitely has something besides fantasy combat on its mind.
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