DmC: Devil May Cry review (PS3)

”Dear Mr. Obama,

As a consumer to the Video Game Industry there is one Video Game that has caused a lot of controversy over the past few month’s.

The name of the game is DmC: Devil May Cry, made by Ninja Theory and Capcom. A majority of gamers are aggravated that this game has changed so much from it’s past predecessors and the game actually insults the consumers in-game.

We, as consumers, did not want nor need this reboot and we believe it violates our rights to have a choice between the original’s or the reboot. This game is violating our rights as a consumer and we believe it should be pulled off shelves from game stores due to it’s insulting nature and the fact that it violates our rights.

Please Mr. Obama, look into your heart and make the decision that will please us Gamers.”

Apart from its brutal onslaught on the English language, this White House petition from fuming Devil May Cry fans is a direct attack on those responsible for the atrocities committed in the reboot of a much beloved series. Titled DmC: Devil May Cry, this “re-imagining” of the Japanese hack ‘n slash favourite is such a mediocre and shockingly offensive departure from the originals that it clearly seems worthy of several minutes of The President’s time.

DMC-Devil-May-Cry-Screenshots-0003

Except, it really isn’t. In fact, the rug has been pulled right out from under these jilted gamers since it seems everyone not currently wielding a pitchfork in an angry mob has discovered that DmC is actually not a bad game at all.

Truth be told, it’s actually rather good.

So what exactly are the fanboys so worked up about?

Picked up for a facelift by British developer Ninja Theory, DmC has taken on a more Western tone, especially in contrast to the uber-Japanese titles that established the series. While still packed with its fair share of trippy environments and trademark over-the-top action, this is a more mature game in every aspect.

The storyline, while admittedly not exactly Pulitzer material, sees protagonist Dante on what most fans have decried as a predictable and lacklustre hero’s journey. Considering the basic gist is an evil demon villain using his evil demon hordes to try to kill the only demon hunter able of ending his reign of terror, the early stages of my play-through were fraught with the thought that the naysayers were right.

But unlike the previous games, DmC eventually evolves into a far more focused narrative, and one of its more important aspects is the development of the main characters. Suffering an immediate dismissal by those familiar with the Dante of old, our hero does indeed start out as a brash, obnoxious Calvin Klein model of sorts who almost purposely alienates his audience (even cracking a few in-jokes as to his previous, inferior incarnations).

However, it’s really just part of one of the oldest storytelling tricks in the book: the un-likeable lead who is forced to undergo a difficult transformation to earn our respect and his own believability. The Dante that emerges is a character you feel like you’ve improved and remoulded, cleverly giving the player a loftier goal than beating boss monsters or mastering a slew of combos.

The combat too has grown up in DmC, though clearly not everyone has recognised the importance of the evolution. On the surface, the combo system appears to have been over-simplified: standard sword attacks are modified into either an angelic scythe or demonic axe with a pull of a trigger, and these are mixed in with classic pistol barrages, the famed Devil Trigger mode, and acrobatics that pull Dante to his enemies and vice versa.

This expansive arsenal is complemented with a range of enemies who can only be damaged by one type of weapon, a mechanic which forces the player to engage in less combos and use more consideration as to how to get through the various waves of foes.

The result is undeniably less complex in both appearance and button combinations, but the overall feel and slick nature of the combat is, quite simply, just a lot more fun than it used to be.

Battles flow seamlessly with beautifully rendered animations, and there’s much more satisfaction to be had from engaging targets in a smarter way rather than just spamming flamboyant chains of pointlessness together. This all takes place in environments designed to work with Dante’s new moves, and it’s a joy whipping around the gorgeous levels as you send a refreshing variety of hellspawn from whence they came.

DmC screenshot 14

The level design and art direction has also apparently rubbed belligerent fans the wrong way, and DmC’s new style is indeed a slight departure from the previous ostentatious vibe. However, I don’t see how anyone can put down the superb look and feel of what has to be the most engaging visuals seen in the series to date.

The main story levels take place in the realm of Limbo, a world where life’s vices are exaggerated and demonised; a stark contrast to reality where everything is an illusion of perfection. Our reality turns into a saturated hell, filled with warped architecture and textures, and nothing feels linear as the environments constantly break up and reassemble demonic Lego-like blocks in a truly impressive visual display.

While I, and much of the rest of the Internet, wasn’t as impressed with the slightly sluggish movement on the PS3 thanks to the new 30 fps framerate lock (console players should definitely go for the slightly smoother X360 version), I found myself always willing to forgive DmC, thanks to the dedication to its look and content over technical wizardry; and surely the sacrifice of a few frames in the name of such a stylistic masterpiece is to be applauded rather than naively lambasted?

DmC 2012 header

With so much polish going into the more refined combat, appearance and storytelling aspects, and a high re-playability value along with seven difficulty levels, I can’t help but feel a little ashamed about the way gamers have reacted to this “inferior” DmC.

As a group, us gamers have had more than our fair share of brandishing as self-entitled, petition-drafting whingers, and the amount of hate being spewed by series fanboys here just compounds the problem, especially in the wake of events like the Mass Effect 3 debacle. And why, because some of us are so resistant to change we’re willing to overlook something fresh and potentially even better?

DmC is a new, exciting and engaging direction for the series, and if Dante and everything else about it can grow up, we should too.

If you’re a newcomer to the Devil May Cry games, I highly recommend this as a great starting point to a franchise that’s got an exciting future ahead of it. And if you’re one of those fanboys who put your name on that ridiculous petition? Grow up, stop being a Devil May Crybaby, and pick up what is easily the best hack ‘n slash adventure so far this year.

More game reviews:

Mark of the Ninja review (PC)

Anarchy Reigns review (PS3)

Seduce Me review

LEGO The Lord Of the Rings Review (PS3)

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DmC: Devil May Cry review (PS3)

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