A video game review: 'DmC: Devil May Cry'

Origin: Japan, United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Hack-and-slash
Platforms: PlaySation 3 / Xbox 360 / Windows
PS3 & X360 - January 15 (USA) & 17 (JP), 2013
Windows - January 24 (AUS) & 25 (USA), 2013
Developers: Ninja Theory (PS3 & X360), QLOC (Windows)
Publisher: Capcom
Thanks a lot, Dante. Thanks a lot for making my life unproductive again after I've finished exploring this new rendition of your personality and back story! Fuck you (in the words of Dante and one of the bosses in the game)!

It looks like this game had started things off for a slew of upcoming 2013 releases, and it is none other than a reboot of the most badass action franchise to date which pretty much started the whole 'one guy looking super-cool while killing loads of baddies' kind of games weirdly titled DmC: Devil May Cry / DmC.

As a fan of the original Devil May Cry / DMC games, this ballsy decision of Capcom to reboot the franchise, let alone passing the baton to some British developers called Ninja Theory/NT surprised me and the DMC fanverse a whole damn lot (I've never played any of NT games to be honest, since I don't own a PS3 nor an Xbox 360, but Enslaved looked pretty tight judging from the gameplay footage I saw and reviews I read).

Not only that, they also decided to trade in the iconic Dante who bore the signature red robe and white long hair and carefree, fun-loving attitude with an emo-haired, black coat-wearing, beat up-faced wuss who smokes, drinks, cusses, and is very horny! Even the early gameplay demos kinda taken me aback due to its unoriginality. I mean, a scythe and an axe?! Did I not saw a scythe present in Dante's Inferno (an unrelated game not made by Capcom that also is loosely inspired by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy)? Did I not saw a similar looking axe in Capcom's own Onimusha series (another fantastic franchise of theirs that they dared to bastardise)? And what's up with the ugly redesigned Ebony and Ivory anyway? I particularly dislike the guns' handles; they're too fantasy-looking for a 'realistic DMC reimagining' if you ask me.

An ugly son-of-a-bitch, ain't cha, old New Dante?
But... as soon as more footage from the game is leaked, revealing much of what the game will be all about, have showcased some degree of improvements in terms of gameplay elements, introduction of new characters and fresh reinterpretations of familiar ones, along with an updated design of the new Dante (his smoking habit is now gone and his look is much more polished) lead me to believe that this is a reboot I'm willing to put to the test; and boy did it somewhat delivers!

The way I see it, gameplay wise, the combat controls is somehow inspired by Dante's controls in DMC4. Now that Dante is reintroduced a Nephilim, a hybrid of devil and angel, the game now features brand new Angel/Devil modes, where they basically modify Dante's attributes; and each mode have their own distinct movesets (Angel mode's attacks are faster while Devil mode ones are slower) that can be used alongside the default Rebellion sword to stylishly cut off baddies. The modes are also crucial for the player's navigation around the alternate version of Limbo City, the game's main setting. What's awesome is that all of these can be seamlessly switched and used at will, encouraging players to string awesome-looking combos together (this also applies in some platforming sections, although mandatory in nature) should they're all about swag when it comes to demon slaying. But the flip side to the overall smoothness of the combat mechanics is that they can be pulled off so damn easily;  because the last time I played the original DMCs, I remembered having to almost wreck my PS2 gamepad due to excessive button mashing, but I don't remember doing so in this game. That's a good thing, I guess?

Another signature trademark of the game that gets a facelift is the Devil Trigger/DT mechanic. Its health regenerating benefit is still present, but here, the DT gives players the ability to slow down time and send most of the on-screen enemies temporarily floating where you are then encouraged to attack them while they are still airborne... and that's about it. He's only slightly and unnoticeably stronger and doesn't change into a demonic being; the things that transformed are only the colour of his coat and hair (an homage to the original Dante). And I don't really see the point of making them float like that, since attacking them on that state is quite challenging for me and too much jumping in the game ticks me off sometimes; not just in combat (you'll see why I'm saying this later on). But on one perspective, it does seems logical that the combo mechanics is simplified, as this explains how Dante is just about to harness his newly-discovered demonic heritage while also to make the game accessible to newcomers of DmC.

Speaking of jumping, let's NEVER NOT talk about the platforming sections! Maybe it's cool sometimes to watch that darn sentient city changes itself and all, but thing is, they are too aggressive and dramatic sometimes, I couldn't keep up with it; making me fall into chasms SO many times I couldn't count. Or maybe I should just blame my laptop for that... for the poor handling of most of the game's dynamic environment even at the lowest settings, which resulted in super-choppy gameplay experience. I guess it's just my fault for owning an underpowered machine.

And did you notice how I just remembered that I didn't talk about the firearms? That's because they are disappointingly under-worked. Sadly, this includes the beloved Ebony and Ivory; but I still use them frequently more than the other two guns for old time's sake and their better responsiveness despite having its prowess a little dumbed down.

Other returning elements include Secret Missions which are now even tougher to access, Red Orbs as a currency to buy items and Upgrades points (it's basically Proud Souls from DMC4 with a different name and look) to expand Dante's movesets that can also be refunded as is.

On the game's setting, other than radically altering the appearance and personality of the beloved Dante, NT has also established a new back story that seems to me is like an abridged and remixed version of both DMC1 and DMC3's narrative and then some. The cut scenes are now even more dramatic and emotional, thanks to NT who dared to chuck these elements into the cheesy, crude, and tasteless world of Devil May Cry (traits that best describes the B-movie genre, a film genre that the series has been spoofing all these while) through the characters' very convincing voice acting, realistic motion capture, and dynamic camera angles during cut scenes that integrate seamlessly into DmC's game play. It is also very smart of them to put the series' demonic theme to fit into contemporary settings. It's like a pinch in the butt of today's humanity, I'd say. What I think that sucks about they way NT handled the game's story though is the writing for the characters' dialogues. Because of the developers' desire in making this game as realistic as it could especially in terms of character interactions, cussing is all they can spit out should the characters are about to be rendered speechless; especially during tough talk cut scenes. The one-liners? To me, they are just trying too hard to make them be remembered by the fans; it makes you go "Meh..." instead of "I should talk like this in real life!"

On the development side, I could say that the dark atmosphere is still there. But instead of going Gothic and majestic like the previous games, NT took a more edgier, Punk approach with DmC. This can be easily seen in the creation of Dante himself and Limbo City; a city so sinister that it has to deceive humans, and it has been designed very beautifully by making it a richly populated and detailed city in its real form as well as distorted-looking death traps for Dante in its alternate form; thanks to the clever use of colours (super vibrant or depressingly bleak, depending on what the mission/plot called for) and wacky, sometimes purposely ruined building structures, keeping true to the subculture's upbringing.

Music wise, I can easily say that they are much more bearable to listen to and fits the game perfectly in many ways possible compared to the previous installments. Thank you NOISIΛ and Combichrist (especially the latter group for making that amazing Throat Full of Glass song as the game's opening theme)! It is only now that I finally don't have to be ashamed to include any of the game's music on my MP3 player and my music library! Yay!

My final verdict? Although DmC lacked polish the series' so-called 'purists' are hoping for, this game, in my opinion, has that certain degree of success in retelling Dante's life and motives in a whole new perspective, making it possible for newcomers to immerse themselves into this refreshed mythos of the Devil May Cry series. Solid gameplay (despite the easier-to-pull-off combo system), refreshing narrative, and mesmerizing set pieces are what sold me into playing DmC (and of course... Kat; there, I said it). So, c'mon ye darn so-called 'Donte-haters'! Just give this game a chance will ya? It's still violent, it's still ridiculous, it's still funny, and it's still Gothic (well, it's actually Punk-ish, but you get the point)! All of those good stuff in the original DMCs are still here; it was just presented differently. Please guys? Here's a cookie for you!

"Hey! I'm Kat! Meow!"


Aimi Rosli said...

'my life unproductive' - always when i have internet commection 24/7.

ok, aku tak main game.
hari ini tahulah aku DmC adalah akronim untuk apa -- yang diperkatakan adik aku.

Ikhwan Radzali said...

entah-entah DmC yang adik kau cakap tu DmC lain kot. haha.

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