The lights are on
I remember very vividly when I had first heard about this Devil May Cry reboot. I was outraged. Capcom had taken the over-the-top "cool guy" persona they tried introducing with Jake "Wesker Jr." Muller in last year's Resident Evil 6 and threw it on our beloved Dante, along with a very trendy and not-white hairdo. Clearly the original Dante was just as bad, if not a bit worse, in that category than most characters in video game history. What I think made that Dante more acceptable though was that it was obviously a joke. The action was ludicrous and borderline laughable (okay, LITERALLY laughable) but it gave us a good sense that it wasn't taking itself seriously. First hinted at with the aforementioned Jake Muller, this series' reboot only confirms Capcom's sad attempts at genuinely making an edgy cool protagonist full of one liners and curse words. This entire game is essentially one gigantic pop culture reference. A trait that will make most things about it incredibly dated within a few short years. Everything except for the gameplay that is. All of my fears came true the first time I played this game. It's one of the funnest and most fulfilling action games of this generation.
Dante is now a demon/angel hybrid who is trying to save the world from a politically and supernaturally-powered demon king that looks suspiciously like Kurt Angle. He's also a prime example of "d--che bag", complete with drinking, partying and womanizing. There are some moments of greatness within the story, however. Whenever a high ranking demon is in the area, Dante is pulled into Limbo where all of the demons are visible (as they are usually possessing something in the real world without anyone's knowledge) and this acts as the game's setting. But the really interesting thing here is that all of the environmental damage that is dealt in Limbo is also present in the real world, causing the media to blame terrorists. Namely Dante. That simple but original idea really gave the game a creative edge. Unfortunately it takes a backseat through most of the story, leaving a great idea unresolved and ultimately making the game just shy of brilliant.
As for the actual gameplay, it takes the basics of the original Devil May Cry games (ie: huge, flashy combos) and loosens them up greatly, resulting in the most accessible DMC game to date. Pulling off long streams of combos is no longer reserved for hardcore DMC players. Although it's usually a bit rocky at first, there is an appropriate learning curve along with progressively more difficult enemies that will test your skills as well as your patience.
Although DMC does not have a ridiculous amount of weapons like the original series did, it does, however, allow players to switch between the handful of weapons obtained all at the press of a button. This enables an infinite amount of combo possibilities throughout. Its variety also limits falling back to an easy bread-and-butter combo or button mashing, giving the player real control over the action. This is what every action game should strive to do. At all times, Dante has a main weapon, an angelic weapon, a demonic weapon and his trusty guns. Each of these act very differently on their own but blend together perfectly. The angelic and demonic weapons also come equipped with a grappling system. Angelic for grappling towards enemies and demonic for grabbing enemies and bringing them to Dante. This feature makes air combos easier and more satisfying than ever.
Now for environments. Limbo looks fantastic. Floors crumble, rooms change shape and walls cave in without warning. It really feels like the level is attacking you and it's great. The grappling system is also applied to platforming, further enhancing the surrealism of Limbo as you leap across destroyed and floating landscapes. Rather than introducing entirely new and different environments, DMC takes rather normal settings such as city streets or office buildings and contorts them into a twisted, gorgeous delight.
Aside from obvious story gripes, there are a few flaws that hinder the overall experience. The most painful being the camera within smaller environments. Too many battles take place in small or narrow spaces, causing the camera to go haywire when trying to focus on one or more enemies. Manually trying to adjust the camera usually ends in failure as well. Many times while playing I died simply because the camera was being obstructed by an object or wall, making me blind to what was going on. Also, the devil trigger-- a staple for the Devil May Cry series-- is introduced far too late in the game. It can become very useful for some of the more difficult sections later on but does not last nearly as long as it should when activated.
The game can be quite funny at times (depending on your feelings toward crude and immature jokes) and though most of the voice acting is decent, it has moments that are just terrible. Just as the narrative starts to get serious, a bad quip or one liner from Dante usually ruins everything. The narrative as a whole felt very uninspired and weak. In game music is mostly a blend of metal and industrial with some dubstep type of stuff thrown in at times. Even if you're not a fan of that type of music, it fits right in with the modernness of the game. When outside of combat there are plenty of great ambient noises that work well with the settings.
Despite its glaring story and voice acting flaws, there is plenty more to enjoy from this game. Some of the bosses are truly original and fun to tear apart. All weapon and move upgrades can be tested before purchase. Even better is the ability to respec upgrades which really encourages players to find their most comfortable play style as early as possible. The graphics are all great, especially the facial animations. The best of all is the replayability of DMC. It's packed with unlockables, many of which cannot be obtained during your first playthrough. Not only is the game much funner on the second run, but it has four extra difficulty settings that are unlocked after successive playthroughs. These difficulties range from frustratingly difficult to absolutely insane. It's nice to see that some things have not changed with Devil May Cry, but play at your own (and probably your controller's) risk.
This is a great game with some obvious faults. Those faults should be expected at this point but it's still disappointing to see that the story wasn't worked on harder. Looking back at my time with DMC, I had a lot of fun but the amazing gameplay and stunning visuals are the only redeeming qualities of this game. Granted, in a video game those should be the ONLY required qualities, but games have evolved so much more than that over the years. It's all great fun to slash at hordes of enemies but it's considerably less fun if you don't like your character, or if you don't understand why they're doing it. Maybe not all of you agree with me and that's okay, but I feel that overlooking the story in a game like this is like cheating the player. Games as visually entertaining as this don't need to be mindless action and that's exactly what DMC comes across as: mindless. Though this title is bereft of any real depth (not counting the deep combo system) and feels as if Capcom is trying way too hard to be as cool and modern as possible with it, it has undoubtedly set the bar for future action games. There is just too much content here to not be hooked. If you end up picking up this one you won't be disappointed, but you should probably keep your own playlist nearby. Just in case.
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