Thursday, 13 February 2014

Gaming Heaven? Or Reboot Hell? - DMC: Devil May Cry Game Review

The teams at Capcom and Ninja Theory made a pretty ballsy move in rebooting a franchise as loved as Devil May Cry. Stripping away everything that we know and replacing it with a new Dante, a new world, and new relationships with his fellow characters could have gone horribly wrong, but as it turns out, this new twist on the series is a refreshing change, and shows that you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

DMC is a brand new story that takes the demon-killing madness of the previous games, and slots it into a new, modern world, where demons have infiltrated the media, monarchy and other positions of power, and are controlling humans from the shadows. Ruling over everything is the Demon God Mundus, who is at constant war with an organization known only as "The Order".

It's here that Dante comes in. He is visited by the mysterious Kat, before being drawn into Limbo in order to kill some things. After escaping, Kat brings him to meet Vergil, Dante's brother and leader of The Order. From here, Dante is drawn into the war against the demons, fighting for freedom for the humans, as well as revenge for the death of his mother at the hands of Mundus himself.

It’s a surprisingly well told story, especially considering the lacklustre narratives of the previous titles in the franchise. There are a few genuinely emotional moments, Dante himself develops as a character from a rogue demon fighter to a warrior for justice, and his relationship with other characters really draws you into the story. All of this is complimented by superb voice acting, and some breathtaking visuals.

Sure, some of the facial animations look a little off, but when it comes to the characters that count, the developers have done a good job. The movements look realistic, the demons have been beautifully designed, ranging from comedic to downright terrifying, and there’s enough reference to the previous games in some of the characters to spark a hint of nostalgia, such as Vergil’s blue coat, or Mundus’ iconic third eye.

Where the visuals really shine however is in the environments. Most of your time will be spent battling demons in Limbo, which offers a distorted interpretation of the real world. The floors and walls around you crumble, forcing you to use all the tools at your disposal to traverse the landscape. Limbo is also populated by demons, and even when there aren’t any around to slaughter, evidence of their infestation is all around you in the inky black substance that layers almost every surface.

As good as the game can look, the main focus that any Devil May Cry fan is looking for is solid gameplay, and luckily for us, DMC does not disappoint. Your standard weapons are the iconic Rebellion sword and twin pistols – Ebony and Ivory. As the game goes on, you gain access to new weapons, as well as Angel and Devil mode.

 Let me explain. In DMC, Dante isn’t just half demon. He is a Nephilim, the hybrid of a demon and an angel, and one of the few who is able to wield the power of both. Quite early on you will unlock both modes, with Angel weapons being faster, but not as powerful, Devil weapons being slower, but packing one hell of a punch (no pun intended), and Rebellion holding the middle ground, balancing the two nicely.

By the end of the game, you will have two Angel, and two Devil weapons, and a simple button press to switch between them on the fly. This makes combat incredibly dynamic, allowing you to switch up your weapons mid combo, and carry on your brutal assault unhindered. It’s a system that works incredibly well, and is really accessible. It won’t take long before you’re mixing heavy and light blows, and smacking your enemies around with ease.

Don’t get me wrong, DMC is by no means an easy game. Mundus will throw every demon he has at you over the 8-10 hours you’ll be playing, and each has a trick up its sleeve. From chainsaw wielding maniacs (Resident Evil 4 anyone?), to a giant unborn baby that blasts you with techno-music soundwaves, DMC has a new challenge around every corner, and in keeping with the bizarre style that runs through many of Capcom’s games, you never know what to expect.

A risky move has definitely paid off here, as DMC manages to keep the fast-paced combat, and epic boss battles that fans know and love, as well as adding a whole new look on the franchise. DMC is a great standalone action game, as well as an amazing instalment to the series, even if it doesn’t fit in with what we’ve seen before. Any worries about the differences should be left at the door. I had a great time with DMC, and am eagerly awaiting a sequel.

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