Back in 2001 when a fresh new IP from Capcom made its debut on the Playstation 2, featuring a white-haired protagonist toting his stylish pistols which our new hero referred to as ‘Ebony & Ivory’ along with a bad to the bone weapon companion in the form of a death dealing sword called ‘Rebellion’, the three punch combination of guns, sword and the extreme dexterity of a half angel-half demon named Dante ushered in a new meaning of action awesomeness. Of course, with the immense success of the original game in the series, three more games were introduced in hopes of continuing the idea of progressive greatness however, with the second game in the series failing miserably, the third game was a deserving triumph and return to form for the series.
Unfortunately the fourth game in the series did the unthinkable by trying to introduce a new character named Nero as the mainstay for the title with but a few instances where Dante was limited to making cameos throughout the full campaign, leaving fans of the series underwhelmed at best.
Enter Ninja Theory
When DmC Devil May Cry was first announced by Capcom, one could only hope this fifth game in the series would proudly revitalize the franchise back to its place of video game action prominence. Surprisingly with DmC, Capcom committed the development duties into the hands of the more than capable developer, Ninja Theory, known for their work on Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. While there were many concerns from fans about this new Dante not resembling the white-haired Nephilim from times past, all those concerns were laid to rest as DmC, offering more than 10 hours of gameplay (depending on your difficulty setting) has this critic more than excited for series future. Ninja Theory has nailed it! Offering an exciting balance of action and story culminating into the best well played and explained Devil May Cry experience to date.
Now for the first time in the series fans are greeted with a comprehensive prequel which pre-dates the original title allowing players to experience the exploits of Dante as the young, arrogant and cocky demon slayer who has no true set direction in life outside of getting drunk, getting laid and occasionally pissing off the demon establishment.
In DmC Dante is re-united with his twin brother Vergil who like him is also a Nephilim, a non-human, yet powerful and extremely rare species birthed from the union of demon and angel. In the reality of DmC the world is controlled and manipulated by the powerful demon known as Mundus and his unlimited supply of demon agitators who Dante is confronted with at every turn. In fact, DmC waists no time throwing players right into the heat of the action quickly familiarizing fans and newcomers to the fun combative style of Dante which throughout the campaign becomes an increasingly addictive affair. Stringing together more and more complex combinations seems like a major part of the experience as the story slowly begins to take shape revealing a plot that ultimately exposes the underlining motivations of Dante’s allies.
The universe of DmC is steeped in both the real world and what the game refers to as limbo or a form of hell where demons dwell manipulating and influencing what we would consider the real world while hiding in plain sight. As Dante, you eventually realize there is more to your life than your own personal agenda as certain truths are revealed. Realizing who you are and where you come from to understanding the mysteries of your parents plays a major part in giving Dante clarity of his life and his true purpose. Along Dante’s journey he also finds compassion for the self-sacrificing actions of Kat who is a member of the organization known as ‘The Order’ ran by Vergil.
This relationship with Kat begins from the outset as she warns Dante of the coming danger, eventually becoming more invested in Dante as his increasing powers begin to take form. Over time, their relationship blossoms as both characters become equally invested in each others well being, helping Dante to see humans for more than just an expendable means to an end. While there really aren’t many major characters cast for DmC, the development of what you’re given is more than adequate, helping players to become well invested in more than just the non-stop feel good action on the screen.
As it should be no surprise to many, the gameplay action sticks out like a sore thumb as the main reason players will be coming back for more. Upon completing the campaign, I can say with confidence, I became a formidable Dante wielding juggernaut, yet there are so many attractive combinations in your arsenal filled with beautiful attacks. Unlocking certain doors leading to rooms sprinkled throughout multiple levels and players are invited to master their fighting skills as pre-determined side quests entirely centered around you becoming a better demon slayer. Equipped with his iconic guns and sword, Dante becomes acquainted with more weapons enabling him to traverse unreachable levels defying gravity or by using his new tools to grab and rip large object toward him manipulating level to his advantage.
Keeping with the mission transition of Devil May Cry games of the past, players as introduced to their gameplay assessment which grades you on how well you’ve demonstrated your combative prowess during your mission playthrough. In fact, while you’re playing depending on the creativity of your attacks, the unseen voice of ‘awesome’ occasionally chimes in to feed your ego when you’ve executed a punishing attack finishing off multiple enemies. Since I’m not a big fan of the mission ending grading system as I am more interested in a continuous story driven experience, the grading system smartly encourage replayability.
In combat Dante is a hurricane seamlessly mixing punishing attacks together with cat like quickness to avoid incoming attacks from enemies. Mastering his many attacks is a game all itself. Attacks are user-friendly allowing players to tear through enemies with light, medium and heavy attacks. Utilizing your trusty pistols or the powerful sawed-off-shotgun are also useful keeping enemies at bay with slick juggling attacks or acrobatic aerial maneuvers while pulling the trigger. With a bit of practice most of the attack combinations can be easily executed, just stick with mastering them.
Visually DmC will not be winning any graphics contest anytime soon but that’s not to say the game doesn’t look great. It’s clear developer Ninja Theory intended to paint a world that artistically conveys the games plot while being able bring eye-pleasing flair to the combat which it does in great numbers. DmC does utilize Unreal Engine 3 across the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms. Because the engine has never truly complimented Sony’s platform, DmC unfortunately is no exception.
Fans of the series still on the fence with bottled up concerns can rest assure this is game will certainly quench their Nephilim appetite. Ninja Theory brings Dante into a world that closely relates to our own making him a more relatable character with real issues. The combat system is simply ridiculous with enough style to keep you glued to your gaming monitor for hours. I’m excited about this new direction of the series with hopes that Capacom allows Ninja Theory to push the experience even further on next-gen hardware.
DmC is one of the best action games you’ll play this generation.