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Review

DmC: Devil May Cry Review [PS3, Xbox 360]

Is this the Dante you're looking for?

From the get go DmC makes it clear that this isn’t the Dante that you’re used to. Early scenes show Dante out clubbing and dancing with girls in angel wings before taking them back to his home, a trailer, and before the first level’s complete Dante will have been naked, sworn at a demon, and flipped a middle finger. While this initial characterisation seems like a fairly two-dimensional portrait of a “rebellious” dirt-bag who thinks only of himself, it’s obvious from the opening level that there’s more to him than that, and more to the world he inhabits.

Those hidden depths come in the form of Limbo, a hidden realm beneath the world that your Average Joe inhabits, one full of demons and danger. It’s here that Dante spends most of the game, although not usually through choice. While early in the game the leap to Limbo is something that Dante and his compatriots have control over, later on you get “dragged” there by your demonic opponents in an attempt to get you out of the way.

The hidden nature of Limbo is one of the key aspects of the game’s story, with characters, rooms and even city streets having hidden depths in Limbo. For example there’s an absolutely fantastic level where you confront one of the main protagonists in a night club. While on the surface everything seems normal enough, taking a step into Limbo reveals the true nature of the club, a twisting series of neon platforms interspersed with rooms full of demons trying to kill you.

Dante taking on plenty of demons.
Actions in Limbo do have effects in the real world though, with an early battle with a demon at a fairground letting a ferris wheel escape its supports and cause mayhem, while a later encounter with Bob Barbas, a new anchor for the right wing Raptor News Network who just happens to be a demon, having consequences for the network’s output. The two worlds are always demonstrated as being separate but linked, and the game certainly uses it to good effect.

When you are trapped in Limbo and have to go toe-to-toe with a demon the experience is thoroughly enjoyable, leaving you with a huge smile on your face. The combat is buttery smooth, and aside from one minor camera issue in the game’s final boss battle you never feel like the game’s getting away from you or becoming too hard to handle. It’s probably not quite up to the high bar that Rocksteady’s Batman games have set but it comes within a hair’s width.

You can move between weapons with barely a thought, and while I’m not quite capable of fully exploiting what the game’s combat system has to offer the depth of what’s there is absolutely mouth-watering. You always have four weapons available, your sword, an angel weapon, a demon weapon and a gun, and not only is switching between weapons you have equipped a breeze, but so is switching out your loadout mid-combat. A simple press on the left d-button will change your angel weapon, up will change your gun and right will cycle through your demon weapons, while holding L2 or R2 will switch you between angel and demon modes.

In particular it’s in aerial combat that things really come into their own, and the ability to perform juggles of a ridiculous length that frequently combine multiple enemies comes with ease. You can send someone flying with your sword, jump up to meet them, slice them a few times, hit them with a shotgun blast to push them even higher into the air, smash them with your demon fuelled Eryx gauntlets, use your angelic Arbiter scythe to cut through them before pulling another demon into your web of pain. If you really get to grips with switching between different weapons in a single combo then the combat opens up into something special.


The boss fight with Raptor News Network anchor Bob Barbas' demonic form is one of the game's high points.
It’s not all demon slicing though, there’s a good amount of platforming with some levels being much more heavily focused on this element than the combat. While the level design in these parts of the game is frequently brilliant, and often accompanied by some absolutely beautiful artwork, the actual gameplay falls slightly wide of the mark at times.

Your control in jumps isn’t quite as accurate as you’d like it to be, and when you use Dante’s jump dash ability it’s frustratingly easy to miss the platform by a matter of inches. It only costs you a small chunk of your life-bar and you’re not sent all the way back to a checkpoint, in fact you restart instantly at the start of the missed jump, but it does become annoying when you just miss the same jump for the fifth time.

However, when you do get the platforming right it feels just as fluid as the combat does. Early into the game Dante gains a grappling hook of sorts, with different abilities coming into play when used with the two aspect of his powers. The angelic side of Dante allows you to pull yourself up towards a grapple point, while his more demonic side will pull some chunk of scenery towards you. When you have to combine these to make jumps that look impossible the whole thing just clicks together and leaves you with a real feeling of accomplishment.

Dante’s combination of angelic and demonic powers is a core aspect of the game’s story, and an element that helps to explain a lot of his reasoning and growth. You see Dante and his brother Vergil are Nephilim, the children of a union between a demon and an angel. They’re the only ones of their kind, and that means they have a key role to play in the game’s lore.

The whole Limbo aspect of the game and presence of disguised demons in powerful positions comes from Mundus, a demon lord who rules humanity from behind the scenes, manipulating humans and seeming to have a huge amount of control over every aspect of society. Before the start of the game Vergil has formed The Order, an organisation dedicated to overthrowing Mundus’ rule. Dante has nothing to do with them at the start though, only coming into the conflict when Mundus discovers he’s a Nephilim and sends a demon to kill him before he discovers the full scope of his powers. If it was me I’d probably go out of my way to avoid drawing him into the conflict but then again I’m not a demon with godlike power.


Dante's Eryx gauntlets are the most powerful weapon he has access to, good if you really need to smash stuff.
After Dante escapes the first attempt on his life via the intervention of Kat, Vergil’s right hand at The Order and the character you’re obviously meant to connect with, he joins up to the crusade and quickly discovers the powers his heritage gives him access to. While Ninja Theory have gone out of their way to try and establish the characters in the game as being “alternative” and have set Dante up as an anti-hero, it’s depressing how bog standard this element of the story is.

It’s the stereotypical story of a character learning of their past and their potential for greatness, and is out of the way so quickly that it feels a little like it’s there for the sake of it. It would have been nice if they’d stretched out this element of the story a little, playing up the discovery elements more and making Dante’s growth feel more natural. While you can’t deny that he does change over the course of the game, it all feels a bit too brief, as if he was balancing on the edge of change before the game even started.

However, the relatively brief exploration of Dante’s powers and his past is almost forgiveable because of the cutscenes that depict his childhood. These employ a wonderful painted art style, and are re-used at key points throughout the game and in some load screens. They really are the game’s artistic high point, and a simply lovely touch.

It’s a shame though that the rest of the game doesn’t quite live up to this graphical promise. The game really falls flat in some cutscenes, with the frame rate feeling slightly like it’s stuttering and environmental textures feeling incredibly flat.

Fortunately when you’re in control it looks a lot better, although it’s not a graphical masterpiece by any means. While there are levels that employ great art styles, and the the way that the cities warp and morph when you enter Limbo looks fantastic, you’re never really blown away. At its best it does start to feel a bit special, but it also has moments that feel like you’re seeing a game from the start of this generation.

If you’re looking for a game that’s long in one playthrough then DmC may not quite be for you. You can probably run through the main story in under ten hours, but there’s plenty of collectibles to go back and pick up, as well as leaderboards to compete with your friends on. On top of that there’s four extra difficulty levels that change up the game with different conditions, such as Dante dying in one hit and changing enemy waves. Realistically how much you’ll get out of the game depends on what type of gamer you are, but if you do like to find every secret a game has then there’s plenty to go back for.

What’s Good:

  • Buttery smooth combat
  • When platforming clicks it feels great
  • Some absolutely great level design at points
  • Sets up nicely for more games
  • Plenty of collectibles and secrets

What’s Bad:

  • Controls when platforming aren’t quite accurate enough at times
  • Hit and miss graphically
  • Dante’s character growth feels somewhat rushed
  • Core story could be longer

It’s obvious why long time fans of Devil May Cry had concerns about the reboot of the series but Ninja Theory have done a lovely job with taking over the reigns. It’s certainly not without its issues, and at this stage in a generation you feel like a game should probably be wielding more graphical clout, but the game’s combat more than makes up for it. It’s simply brilliant, and you can have a lot of fun trying out the different options it presents you. Once Dante’s picked up every weapon there’s simply so much available to you, and that’s what sets the game apart.

Score: 7/10

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24 Comments
  1. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I am surprised as i was expecting DMC to be an average game. Have heard it uses fecking dubstep on the main title screen. If so then what the feck? Seriously, dubstep in a game where you kill demons? Pretty sure rock music is more suited to that. Is Dante an unlikeable git or does he end up being the likeable ass that the old Dante was? Am surprised that they’ve changed Mundus from the emperor of the demon world to a lord. If the soundtrack is mostly dubstep and Dante swears often, i may not pick up the game as i dislike dubstep and characters that swear often tend to have crap development. Obvious examples aside. Am hoping they will do a sequel to the old universe in the next few years though due to some things that have yet to be answered. Is Sparda mentioned in this universe or did they decide to use brand new characters to avoid confusion between the two universes? I wonder if they plan to do what DC/Marvel tends to do with their stuff and have two series. One set in one universe and the other continuing from the universe that they originally chose? As that would please the fans. One set of games for the new fans and one series that continues from DMC 4.

    Do wish that the bloody director didn’t decide to model Dante after himself and insult the old one but ah well, at least the game is good and is not damright insulting to the fans. Unlike a certain sequel to a certain RPG that almost killed the damn franchise!

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:17.
    • Kris Lipscombe
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Mar 2009

      I guess emperor is probably true too, I may have missed the subtelty. I just meant he’s in charge of demon’s and stuff.

      Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:21.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        You could have just said Overlord,master,sterotypical evil demon who wants to kill man kind via stabbing,bob,EA,archdemon etc.. ;) But does the soundtrack consist of Dubstep as that will be a deciding factor if i pick it up at a later date?

        Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:40.
      • Sympozium
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        He’s the prince of Darkness Steven, get your facts right. teeheh

        Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 11:01.
    • wolf-OF-chaos
      Member
      Since: Feb 2012

      Yes, the main menu is sorta dubstepy but one you get into the game, it changes to rock/metal. Which is great btw.

      Yes Sparda is mentioned several times by Vergil, paintings and flash backs.

      IMO, it’s better then dmc4.

      Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:48.
      • wolf-OF-chaos
        Member
        Since: Feb 2012

        once*

        Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:50.
    • djhsecondnature
      Since: Forever

      It’s not “dubstep” dubstep. There are a few wubwub in there but it’s a heavy metal soundtrack by Nosia. It’s superb but if you feel it’d be an issue it’s on Spotify so go have a listen.

      Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 12:29.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        Noisia did the soundtrack? Interesting! I’ll check that out. I stopped caring about DmC when 3 came out as Dante surfing on a rocket was just too over the top for my taste.

        Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 12:45.
      • Unterred
        Member
        Since: Oct 2009

        It also features Industrial Agrotech band Combichrist who should be a perfect fit.

        Comment posted on 15/01/2013 at 12:45.
  2. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    I’ve never played a dmc game and don’t think I’ll be starting here. Good review, well written but it just hasn’t tempted me to get involved.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 08:30.
    • Sympozium
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      Start with the Devil May Cry HD Collection :)

      Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 11:00.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        It doesn’t matter what game he starts with as DMC1-4 and this one are in their own seperate universes.

        Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 11:11.
  3. psychobudgie
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    I’m not surprised at all at your review. I was really disappointed with the demo and like you felt the controls were far from what I would expect from a DMC game. I would even go so far as to say that the demo wasn’t DMC in anything other than name.

    First DMC game I won’t be bothering with which is a shame as I really liked Bayonetta despite all its issues.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 09:05.
  4. LTG Davey
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Played the demo last night and loved every second of it. A must buy for me

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 09:32.
  5. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    i’ve enjoyed the earlier games, though i’ve only ever finished the first one.
    i’m not a big fan though so, the whole “that’s not the real Dante” thing just blew over me.
    while it’s nice that the game is decent, i’m in no rush to get it.
    i probably will pick it up later when it’s cheaper, they are enjoyable games, and the demo had some fun.

    in that video, Dante looked like the emo Superman from that Earth One graphic novel.
    at least in the first bit on the street.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 09:34.
  6. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    ….I need to play it today I guess, the demo was ok. Love the design though, good touch with how the environment looks.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 11:00.
  7. C_S15
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    Uh-oh, only a 7/10. How long before Ninja Theory class this as a “non-genuine” review. From the trailers as well, Donte looks an awful character. I’ll steer clear and wait for Rising.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 12:34.
    • djhsecondnature
      Since: Forever

      Trailers make Dante look like a dick with no context; with context he’s a dick but a likeable one :-p

      Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 12:37.
  8. Takyu
    Member
    Since: Aug 2012

    From what I’ve played of the demo, the combat in the game is solid, and I’m sure the addition of more weapons throughout the story would make it even better (although I’m still disappointed the different combat styles; Gunslinger, Swordmaster etc didn’t make the game). The art style is also very good in my opinion.

    Thing is, for me it’s just not DMC because it’s just not Dante. And I’m not just talking about appearance, I thought Dante’s ‘personality’ in the demo was terrible, particularly with the swearing dialogue with the Poison boss which to me just seemed like Ninja Theory’s idea of ‘cool’.

    I actually really enjoyed DMC4, despite the rather lazy game design of just repeating levels in reverse. Nero was interesting and his combat was still solid but nicely differentiated from Dante’s. And unless I’m mistaken, it was pretty successful both commercially and critically. So why the decision to reboot, and essential alienate (at least some of) the fans of the series?

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 13:28.
  9. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    I’ve never liked Devil May Cry but was quite taken with the demo. Perhaps more to do with Ninja Theory than anything DmC related, however, I think I’ll be grabbing this at some point.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 13:41.
  10. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Good review and i’ve enjoyed the previous games up to a point (the point where my fingers would be sore from mashing the buttons :) ), but i didn’t find the demo very appealing for this one. I might still pick up the HD remakes though.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2013 at 19:37.

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