“It’s a re-birth of the series that doesn’t adhere to the original canon but draws heavily from it,” stated Ninja Theory creative chief, Tameem Antoniades in an interview. “…consider this an alternate take to the story.” Despite the constant reassurance from the developers, fans of the series have been up in arms about their alterations since details of the game hit the internet. The younger version of Dante has caused plenty of concern; the suave, cocky cool guy attitude had been replaced with an angsty teen with mommy and daddy problems who hates the world. One that Antoniades wishes was gay.
On top of the ridiculous changes to a fan favorite character, the new directions with the gameplay have also worried fans. Talks of simplifying gameplay, fears of losing the style system, and the incredibly immature presentation of the plot have left fans cringing with every new trailer released.
Well now the public demo is now out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox360, and it gives us some insight to the changes the series is stumbling through.
DmC: Devil May Cry takes place in a parallel universe to the previous titles in the series. A bland civilization – Limbo City – has a unique characteristic of being able to transform into a grotesque version of itself and has been taken over by demons. A secret organization known as “The Order” is rebelling against the demonic totalitarian reign. Vergil broadcasts a V for Vendetta styled warning to the government and public before recruiting Dante, a well known angel/demon hybrid with a bounty.
The political symbolism that is twisted into the mythological-based plot seems interesting at first but the meaning is quickly lost by how over exaggerated the plot is. Finn and Jake’s political rap from “Daddy’s Little Monster” makes more sense than the politics in DmC. There is little explanation behind motive other than everything on one side of the coin is evil and everything on the other side needs to rebel.
After agreeing to join The Order, Dante sets off to find Mundus – a demon who has been leading the witch hunt after him. The city has been set up to instantly change into crumbling pieces as hellish monstrosities spawn from its crevices when it detects Dante. The demo starts with Dante following one of The Order’s messengers who is leading him to an unannounced destination. (It is ‘unannounced’ since the level given to you to demo gives no sense of direction whatsoever. I honestly had no idea where I was or why I was there or even what my goal was other than to just run when told to.) As the two are traveling through the city he stirs a bit of trouble with a local, which results in a security camera picking up on his position. The true face of the city emerges as he is pulled into the other side separating him from reality and imprisoning him in a living cage. All around him the city begins to fall apart giving him no choice but to fight for his life.
The gameplay mimics the hack ‘n’ slash combat of the previous titles. The style meter continues to be used; the more consecutive combos you pull off without being hit built up your style meter and grants you a higher ranking for the level. The combat style system, such as Swordmaster and Trickster styles, that grew on fans from Devil May Cry 3 has been removed in favor of an all-in-one combat system. Dante wields four weapons at once that can be switched out on the fly with each one being better for certain circumstances. The scythe is quick but does little damage, the axe is a slow power house, the guns keep enemies at a distance with chip damage, and the swords are all about balanced. I still prefer having set weapon arrangements, however this Swiss Army knife approach manages to provide some entertaining combat.
Surprisingly the combat is rather fluent. Dante smoothly switches between weapons without any caught ups but the combat is not perfect. Lock-on has been removed preventing you from being able to focus on specific enemies or key points on bosses. Some situations might result with you blindly shooting or aiming at nothing instead of the enemy you were targeting. This isn’t exactly too much of a problem since the game’s difficulty is slightly toned down from previous installments. The small flaws unfortunately become burdening as they pile up on top of each other.
Frustration is only worsened by the poorly designed platforming aspects of the game. Since Dante is a half angel-half demon, he is capable of using abilities from both in order to get around the level. To trigger angel or demon specific powers, you need to alternate between the left and right trigger buttons since each trigger button pulls up a different set of abilities to use. Navigating around levels becomes unnecessarily complicated as you try to remember which button combination is needed to get to certain platforms. A few times I found myself accidentally directing myself to the other ledges due trying to pull an enemy to me and vice versa.
DmC is just full of short comings. Graphically it is not ugly but it feels like you are looking through a brown-orange filter the entire time with dust particles flying around covering the screen. Bloom gives it a strong polished look in a bad way, almost like there is a constant glare shining on everything and taking away potential for details. The PlayStation 3 version of the game also suffers from very choppy frame rate issues that causes the game to loose its sense of slick style which is an essential element to a Devil May Cry title. Even in cut scenes character movements were jagged while the XBox360 version seemed to run without too much trouble. (So far there has been no explanation for the issue between the two versions.)
The plot exists but is incredibly juvenile mixed with a horrible script. It tries too hard to be a mature, edgy title by using unnecessary cursing as form of dialogue over characters having legit conversations. In the intro for the boss fight alone, Dante and the gigantic worm creature spat ‘fuck you’ at least three times between one another. (Literally no other words were exchanged between them during that back and forth.) Original Dante might have had some cheesy action-movie-like one liners but nothing compares to the extremely bad lines new Dante uses that makes him sound like a 14-year old kid who just discovered internet forums for the first time; and anyone who uses the argument ‘this is just a reimagining of a younger, more ignorant Dante’ as a way to accept Dante’s new attitude is an idiot who clearly has never experienced even sub-par writing. It is a horrid excuse to explain the cop out Ninja Theory has used for their script which contains none of the creative imagination they so proudly prompt the game for having.
Over all, DmC is a hamster on a wheel. It is obviously trying to move but it is stuck in place. For every one thing the game manages to pull off correctly, two other aspects suffer. The combat works but the signature challenge has been stripped away and main mechanics are not thought out the way they should be. It wants to build a new image for the series but its awful attempts have only bastardized future installments. Ninja Theory is digging themselves a grave with DmC: Devil May Cry and disguising it as a pathway to China instead, almost like they are ashamed at what they have created yet too far into its development to admit it. Either that or mediocrity really is their main ingredient for their game development.
I foresee the Crapcom cycle to continue as another beloved series falls victim to mockery but only time will tell. Check back with us in a few months for our full review when DmC: Devil May Cry hits store shelves in January.