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DMC: Devil May Cry Review

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Thursday 31 January 2013Comments Off

Available on 360, PS3 and PC l Published by Capcom l Developed by Ninja Theory l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1 player

REVIEW IN BRIEF > Despite a new hair cut and, perhaps more importantly, a new developer, DMC has set the standard for all future gaming franchise reboots. It takes what the original series did well, namely the crazy action and combat, and fixes the issues that many players had. A tight story, some dazzling locations and the finest combative chaos this side of Bayonetta means there is plenty to love. Don’t listen to internet crazies. This is a game for action fans everywhere.

REVIEW IN FULL > I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I never really liked the Devil May Cry series. I know, I know, that is probably some sort of gaming felony, but I just couldn’t sink my teeth into the games, no matter how hard I tried. The combat was initially fun but there just didn’t seem to be enough of a reason to keep ploughing through all of those demons. The plot wasn’t strong enough either. It was confusing, poorly written and featured unlovable characters. Well, it seems I wasn’t the only one that took issue with the story elements of the first four games, because with DMC, Capcom has certainly done something about it.

Button mashing may have carried me through the first few levels but when some of the more entertaining enemies came across my path, I had to adapt and learn.

To tackle these narrative issues, Capcom farmed the series out to Enslaved developer Ninja Theory, a company that has made its name with games that embraced tightly woven tales and well developed worlds. This experience has resulted in the simplest, yet most entertaining, tale the franchise has seen. I again took on the role of Dante, but as this was a prequel, my path was one of transformation from arrogant party boy to a demon slaying planet saver. There were no big surprises in the story, but it was told in a confident manner, with well written characters and an entertaining premise.

Considering that combat was not the strongest part of Ninja Theory’s previous titles, I was more than a little interested to see what these storytellers would do with what is an essential element of the Devil May Cry series. My worries were unfounded however, as the UK developer delivered in spades. The combat was fast flowing fun. Weapons could be switched on the fly by pressing the triggers and using this elegant approach I was able to chain my attacks together almost endlessly. The thing I liked the most about this system was it encouraged me to learn and get better. Button mashing may have carried me through the first few levels but when some of the more entertaining enemies came across my path, I had to adapt and learn. Failure to do would inevitably lead to a rapid death at the hands of these increasingly devilish demons.

Speaking of demons, enemy design was certainly a highlight. From bladed skeletons to lumbering giants, from cherubic flying monsters to creepy ninjas from hell, all the adversaries were designed with care and their attacks were as varied as their appearance. The remainder of the game was also very easy on the eyes. More than once I simply paused for a moment and examined my surrounds, taking in the superbly detailed environments. Ninja Theory has always had a talent for creating immersive and stunning worlds and DMC was no exception.

More than once I simply paused for a moment and examined my surrounds, taking in the superbly detailed environments.

It wasn’t all silky combat and stunning views. There was also a fair bit of platforming to be done and this is where I found DMC started to stumble. The mechanics for leaping about the place were easy to grasp but fiddly to implement. I found it quite difficult to simply double jump and glide. The manoeuvre seemed to only register occasionally and this led to my death more than once. While the penalty was minor (a loss of some health and a respawn on a nearby safe ledge), it was very annoying and led to more than a few swear words escaping my lips. Another issue I had was with the grappling and zipping. While it worked, I too often found myself mixing up which button presses were required, leading me to wonder if a more elegant solution could have been found.

Another aspect I was impressed with was the longevity of the game. Action titles of this nature tend not to give me much reason to play through them again. DMC broke this trend. Once I had completed the game, the Son of Sparda mode was unlocked, which not only increased the difficulty but changed enemy behaviour and introduced a level of chaos that was previously unseen in the game. It was pushing my skills to a new level and made me want to plough through the whole campaign all over again. This mode was backed up by worldwide leaderboards so I could compare my scores to those of my friends and the best in the world. It was nice to see that while I was nowhere near the guys at the top, I wasn’t so far from some of my mates.

When all is said and done, this is a great action game. The combat is top notch, the visuals and design are surreal and spectacular and the story is well executed and at times even gripping. The game is let down by some dodgy platforming but it is never enough to take the shine off what is a quality product. So, Ninja Theory, take a bow, because you have given the world a master class in how to reboot a franchise with style.

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