Next year’s Devil May Cry reboot seems to have upset a lot of fans of the series. Perhaps reboot isn’t quite the right word, the game’s set in an alternate universe that allows the original Devil May Cry story and characters to be preserved if Capcom want to return to those games, but nevertheless, the fans are not pleased.
Personally I can’t really comment on this aspect of the game, I’ve never been a fan of the Devil May Cry series. In fact I’d never paid any of the games any attention until now. However, DmC: Devil May Cry caught my eye for some reason, and it’s safe to say I’m well and truly sold.
In some ways I’m reminded of the way I briefly fell in love with Ninja Gaiden 3 last year. They both grabbed hold of me in a way that earlier games in each series hadn’t, and I spent a lot of time enjoying both. However, what DmC has going for it that Ninja Gaiden didn’t have is the almost instant feeling of depth you get from the combat.[drop]It was fun to run through the Ninja Gaiden 3 demo hacking and slashing away but, on reflection, it’s obvious that the mechanics the game offered would become tiresome for any period longer than said demo. DmC feels like it’s the complete opposite of this, with a nice variety of options available in combat, and combos that quickly begin to flow like you’ve been playing the game your whole life.
The element that works best is the nice use of angel and demon mechanics. Essentially, you’ve got your angel mode attached to one trigger, and demon mode to the other. These don’t provide Dante with a distinct look or noticeable transformation, but rather act as simple combat modifiers, allowing you to seamlessly transition between combat styles (angel attacks are generally faster and light on damage, whilst demon attacks are slower but more powerful) and weaponry. It really opens up possibilities whilst trying to run an enemy through with your sword, and just leaves you feeling like you’ve got a lot of control over the on screen action.
You’ll also need the two sides of Dante whilst traversing the world. It’s clear that Ninja Theory have put a lot of thought into the way that Dante moves, and the platforming elements they’ve used feel comfortable and, for the most part, well integrated.
Selecting angel side whilst hitting X (or square) allows you to use your faintly organic looking grapple to pull yourself upwards towards a grapple point, whilst your demon half allows you to pull things towards you. These moves are pretty much vital when you’re moving from area to area, but they also serve a role in combat. You can pull yourself up towards enemies, or drag them down towards you, further enhancing your combos and making aerial juggles a breeze.
Whilst it can take you a little while to get used to the possibilities the game throws at you, the demo on show featured one of the best tutorial levels I’ve ever played. It explained things to you at a good pace, but never left you feeling bored and threw just enough challenges at you to keep you interested.
The other available level was a fantastic boss battle against a large, slug like creature. Basically is you imagine a gigantic centaur that’s half slug instead of half horse then you’re there.
The fight was a nice combination of reading attack patterns, platforming and general combat, although could have perhaps been a little stronger in that final department. Whilst there probably are more subtle ways to approach the encounter, you can just pound away on your main attack button and be effective. Yes, you still have to dodge incoming attacks, but it felt much shallower than what you were presented with in the Under Watch tutorial level.
However, it’s worth noting that this didn’t detract from the level all that much, and the whole thing did generally feel very well put together. In particular it had a nice way of building tension as it transitioned through the different stages of the fight, and an ending that felt really well thought out.
Graphically, the game impresses, with some great enemy designs (particularly with the slug boss) and the redesigned Dante looking rather nice. The world is the game’s real graphical triumph though, and serves a gameplay purpose as well.
Essentially, the streets you walk on and the buildings that surround you are just as unhappy about your presence as the enemies you face, and it’s much, much tougher to slice through a pissed off building. Ninja Theory call this mechanic ‘malice’, and it’s present throughout the entire game it seems. As you try and move forwards streets will come apart, buildings will try to crush you, and floors will become so steep that you end up sliding down them.[drop2]Malice itself is represented as a black, tar-like substance that generally blocks your way. At times it’ll simply coat itself over a doorway, forcing you to punch through, but it’s perfectly capable of blocking off an entire street, containing chunks of tarmac and concrete in a web like structure. Both the system and the visual representation add some real flavour to the environment, and definitely push it past feeling like it’s just a location for you to have your adventures in.
Look, I know that there are going to be fans of the series that aren’t happy with the direction that Ninja Theory and Capcom have chosen for DmC, but as someone who had no affinity for the series before EGX, I left with the game very high up my anticipated games list and a copy of the HD Collection ordered from Amazon. You may not like the changes that have been made but trust me, the game is fun and worth trying out – I think it may well take you by surprise.