Fans May Cry
2013 and Devil May Cry is back. This isn't the Dante you know and love either, this is a new Dante. This is a Dante who's bound to draw battle-lines across the fandom and this is a Dante who has a whole new personality, look and feel to him, rather like the game. It's always tricky to reboot a beloved franchise and character, Ninja Theory and Capcom had a massive set of shoes to fill in many fan's eyes and regardless of how you feel about the new game, for us, they pulled it off. We're not as heavily invested in DmC as some people, a change for us isn't the end of the world and we can often overlook hokey plot and some cheesy lines if the gameplay is good.
Dante's memory isn't so good, he's a guy who has no clue about his demonic and angelic linage, or that he's got a twin brother called Virgil. He spends his time partying with dubious ladies, living in a pier-side trailer and getting drunk. He's not aware that there's a big badass demon king called Mundus who's out to get him because of his bloodline...that is until a psychic called Kat shows up and Dante's dragged into limbo by a demonic hunter. Thus the story to DmC kicks off and drags you along at a fair pace revealing key points about Dante's history and lineage through a set of increasingly harder/rewarding missions. Add to this that the demons control the real world through media and keep the populace in check via other means, there's a real secret world vibe running through the story.
DmC has numerous difficulty levels, from the easy (still hard in places) to the downright terrifying where Dante's enemies have full health, but he can die in one hit. It employs a checkpoint based save system which seems to work pretty well and falling removes a small sliver of Dante's health rather than killing him outright.
The game's controls should be fairly familiar with fans of the series, action game players and anyone who has played a game like God of War. There are heavy attacks on Y, the X button employs Ebony and Ivory, Dante's twin guns (or another firearm later on), B creates a lunge or uppercut and through a mix of the face buttons, triggers and combos Dante can perform some pretty spectacular moves with Rebellion and his demonic/angelic arsenal.
You see when you get some new toys, you can use the left trigger (for angelic) and the right (for demonic) to link combos with Rebellion, smoothly switching between the angelic Osiris and the demonic Arbitrator. Left trigger also uses Dante's angel pull, and the right uses the demon grab. Armed with this knowledge it's possible to create some demon-shattering combos and keep the score piling up.
The higher the score the more rewards you get after combat. Of course one hit will send the combo gauge down a rank and undo all that hard work. You can go from a blistering SSS rank to a measly D rank in a few seconds. So you're going to have to keep an eye on enemy attack patterns, learn the best weapons to use in the right situation and pick up a few solid combos rather than mashing buttons - especially on the higher difficulties.
Ebony and Ivory are useful for maintaining the combo gauge on its current rank and the left and right bumpers are used for evade. Evade is a key skill to master since it'll mean you keep that precious SSS rank longer and earn a huge score. Get a high enough score and you'll be raking in the upgrade points you need to buy Dante's skills for all his weapons (there are a lot) and his moves (again, quite a few).
As per usual you can access the Upgrade Shop from Divinity Statues or the Mission Start screen. Here you can buy Vital (health restoration) stars, upgrades and items to use in game. If you use items though it will deduct from your score, so if you want to get a better chance at grabbing a SSS final ranking you need to really learn your stuff. Red orbs from combat and smashing things are your currency for items in DmC and white orbs are earned for really badass fights, these get you your upgrade points.
The games missions are a mix of combat (a lot of it), puzzle solving traversal. Dante jumps around a lot more in this one and you can swing from angel points, or use the demon grab to pull demon point objects closer. There's a definite rock/paper/scissors mechanic running through this one with certain weapons required to harm foes, exploiting their weakness. A good example of this being the Hellknights - who only take damage from demonic sources, you can avoid their fire attack if you're in demon mode as well. (Right trigger)
Dante's Devil Trigger is back as well, with some tweaks. It now knocks enemies into the air and Dante scores bonus style points for doing aerial combos against his foes whilst in DT mode.
The combat system is fine-tuned from previous DmC games and runs at a solid pace, there's a lot going on and it can be a little confusing at times to keep an eye on everything. Boss fights are often puzzle based with the usual stacks of health and changing patterns of attack. It keeps things fresh and that's one thing you can say about the new DmC, it certainly is a fresh take on the series.
The game has collectables to discover and secret doors to unlock, behind which are special secret missions (which offer rewards) - keys unlock these doors, and there are lost souls to free. Once you open all secret doors, find all keys and lost souls on each mission you earn a permanent style bonus for that level. You can replay missions for bonus score and upgrades.
Control is smooth and the input feels just right, once you get the hang of the combat system it's pretty easy to do some pretty amazing moves in the game and keep those long-chain combos flying in. Just remember that a repeat move doesn't give you as much score when you perform it again and again and can cause the style rank to drop quicker.
So switching weapons, moves and using firearms all adds up quickly to a high score.
The Unreal Engine has been put to good use here and DmC is a really good looking game. The level of visual fidelity on the characters is top notch and the environments are really well textured and designed. The frame-rate remains steady throughout and even when things are so insanely eye-bleeding as to surround Dante with loads of enemies, it doesn't falter one bit. It's also nice to see that the slow-load texture pop-in which often plagues many Unreal Engine games has been eliminated from DmC. There are some great special effects and visual treats in the game. The new visual design for everything is pretty solid and we like the new look Dante.
The animations in DmC are fast and fluid, everything is well animated and the cut-scenes have some really great character to them. Facial animations are excellent and the range of expressions and emotions comes across really well.
The AI in DmC is solid and it has a variety of attack patterns. There are cheap throw-away enemies who will rush you, those who hang back, those who use devastating close attacks and numerous other tricks to break your flow and resolve. Ground enemies, aerial enemies and bosses all have their own signature move which they employ to great effect to whittle down Dante's health bar.
Some objects break but the physics in the game controls the weight of blows in combat, they feel meaty enough and nothing feels floaty or disconnected.
DmC has good quality audio with some great sound effects, spot effects and ambient effects in the game. Everything sounds good, crisp and clean.
There is a mix of traditional DmC style music and some Dubstep in the game along with Tecno-beats and more. The music can be a little jarring at times but it fits with the new edgy Dante and co, along with the world they live in.
The voice work is really top notch in the game and the influence of Alex Garland has not done DmC any harm whatsoever. The script is pretty good and the writing is certainly more evolved than previous DmC games, with the characters sounding a lot more coherent (apart from certain scenes where things are a little over the top) - there's nothing overly wrong with the script and it's good for the style.
Single player only with Leaderboards.
We like the new DmC, it is a bold and pretty trippy (at times) step for the franchise. The combat system is good, the graphics are top notch and the story is solid enough to carry the whole thing. We've seen the various reviews and accusations too about scores being paid for; since we're all gamers here at Games Xtreme we just have one thing to say: we have no phat stacks of cash thank you very much. We think the new DmC owns and that's the biggest endorsement we can give it.