Friday, January 18, 2013

Second Opinion - DmC Devil May Cry - SSSensational!!!

I would like to start by saying that, before going into this game, I knew what the older Devil May Cry canon was like, including all four games (counting a Special Edition) and the Devil May Cry anime. However, I have never actually played any of those games, my only direct interaction with the series being watching the anime (and subsequently gaining a craving for a strawberry sundae) and observing my brother playing said games. As such, this is my first time playing a Devil May Cry game, and so I will be looking at this game from the perspective of someone who has seen, but never played, Devil May Cry before. After spending time with this alternate take on the series, DmC Devil May Cry, I'm glad that I played it.

The story of DmC Devil May Cry follows a man named Dante as he is taken into Limbo, the demon world, by a hunter demon. After a human girl named Kat, who is able to interact with Limbo, helps him get back to the human world, it is discovered that she works for an organization known as The Order, who has recently been big news on television. Kat takes Dante to their headquarters, where he not only discovers that the leader is his long-lost brother Vergil, but also that he and Vergil are both Nephilim, half-angel and half-demon, and are the heirs of the legendary demon Sparda. Vergil also explains that The Order is a small resistance group that seeks to take down the Demon King Mundus, who rules over the human world, and bring about freedom. Knowing what's at stake, Dante agrees to help them.

A more in-depth look at the story can be found here, but I felt that the tale of this new Dante was pulled off very nicely. As the game went on I realized that I actually cared about what happened to the characters, with some nice nuances in Dante's character development as he grows more attached to Kat and the human race as a whole. The game has some very shocking and emotional scenes that add more depth to  the characters and overall plot, which made me want to see everything through to the end. A scene of particular note is when a SWAT team is coming after Kat while Dante and Vergil are in Limbo; as the SWAT team gets closer, Dante tries to comfort Kat, telling her to get in a position where they will take her unharmed and that he will come back for her. When the SWAT team arrives, they shoot Kat anyway, shocking Dante, who is unable to do anything except place his hand over hers while still in Limbo. This event is one of the major turning points of the story, and one where I realized that I wanted to know what happened to the characters next. As I have said with The Darkness, I found the execution of Ninja Theory's plot to be similar to that of a (really good) live-action movie, thanks to it being (somewhat) more realistic.

Since I have not experienced Devil May Cry gameplay until now, I decided to play on the Human (Easy) difficulty setting; even then, I ended up having a tough time against some of my enemies at first, although it did get easier as I completed more Missions, of which there are 20. I enjoyed the variety of the weaponry, ranging from various guns (including the classic Ebony and Ivory), Angel weapons (which focus on range and bringing yourself toward the enemy), Demon weapons (which focus on close-range and bringing the enemy to you), and the sword Rebellion, totaling eight. The game even encourages you to change up how you kill your enemies on the fly, which is easy to do by way of the d-pad and shoulder buttons, as it grades you based on your variety, ranging from D to A and going to S, SS, and even SSS. Some platforming sections also make really good use of a an Angel whip and a Demon whip, the former pulling you forward and the latter pulling a platform towards you (they can even be chained together).

As you defeat enemies, you can gain White Orbs, which fill up a small meter; once that meter is full, you get an Upgrade Point, which can be used to upgrade your skills in combat as well as your arsenal for more damage and combos. Fortunately, each upgrade only costs one Upgrade Point, which gives you more breathing room to adjust to your own play style. Later on, defeating enemies also increases a Devil Trigger gauge which, when activated, gives Dante more power and leaves his enemies helpless (save for bosses). While I enjoyed using this ability, I didn't like that it took a lot of effort to fill up, only for it to be drained in a matter of seconds upon use. It would've been nice if there was more of a balance between filling up and draining the Devil Trigger, although I suppose lengthy fill-up and short use is better than effortless fill-up and absurdly lengthy use.

The enemy variety is amazing, though the weapon variety nearly grinds to a halt as soon as color-coded enemies show up. To elaborate, enemies coated in a strong red require Demon weapons to take damage, and Angel weapons for enemies colored strong blue. This bogs down some encounters a little, especially when one of each of these colors is present at the same time, but otherwise the enemies provide more of a natural challenge. Most of the boss battles are also admittedly a little weak, in that they don't take much advantage of Dante's arsenal and instead relegate themselves to being more akin to platforming games (though as someone who enjoys playing platformers, I feel mixed on this issue). However, they are no less memorable, especially when you have to fight an MCP-esque demon Bill O'Reilly stand-in inside of a news broadcast (this is probably one of the most absurd-sounding descriptions I have ever written). There were also some points where I wished there was some sort of lock-on feature, if only just to make getting to certain things easier, but I still got used to this easily since I had no prior Devil May Cry experience. While there may be issues, I overall had some real fun with the combat once I got used to it.

As some final thoughts, the game also features plenty of replay value, with secrets and collectibles in every non-boss stage, which I like to see in a game like this. This ensures that, once you gain the right weapon, you will want to return to earlier stages just to see what you may have missed. I also really enjoyed the voice acting, which made the characters more emotional as they have the right tone in the right situation. This also helps with Dante's one-liners, among other pieces of dialogue, which I often found to be extremely hilarious. I additionally praise the soundtrack, performed by electronic groups Noisia and Combichrist, which is very catchy and can stay in your head for quite a while after hearing it. I recently discovered that Noisia has released their contributions to this game through their website, and is now on my list of video game soundtracks to purchase in the future.

DmC Devil May Cry is a great jumping-on point for those new to Devil May Cry. It has solid combat, a great story, and plenty of memorable moments and music. This game can provide a challenge for newcomers to this type of gameplay, even on a lower difficulty setting, but once you acquire a bigger arsenal, the combat really gets fun. Veterans of Devil May Cry might want to start on the higher Nephilim setting first, but despite any changes made since the previous continuity, this game provides something that more open-minded Devil May Cry fans will enjoy. I found myself loving this new game and I can't wait to play a sequel if it gets made.

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