Game:  DmC: Devil May Cry

Genre:  Beat ‘em Up

Developer:  Ninja Theory

Publisher:  Capcom

Platform:  PS3, Xbox 360, and PC

Score:  Savage!

There is a flawed game here but a fun one.

DmC: Devil May Cry (hereafter DmC) is a reboot to the much loved/hated/parodied Devil May Cry series.  Devil May Cry has spanned a couple generations of gaming, exhausted the prequel angle, and even swapped out its protagonist for a worse one.  After DMC4 told me that I wasn’t cool enough to play their game anymore, I wrote off any future installments as last generation leftovers.

I wasn’t the only skeptic.  DmC was surrounded with controversy from the moment the word “reboot” was whispered and the concept art leaked.  I too worried that Dante was looking a mite Emo.  That was put to rest the instant I found this picture a year or two ago.   I mean, look at that pimp.

My interest in a new Devil May Cry was piqued.  I paid $60 dollars cash-money for the game and do not regret my decision.

In game Dante doesn’t look as much Emo as he does 80s Brit-Punk and it works.  The entire feel of the game has been anglicized, in many ways, for the better:  better soundtrack, better Setting (Limbo City is a big win here), a more cohesive plot (seriously Japan, get it together), John McClain one-liners, better Voice-Acting, and plenty of unnecessary swearing.  OK, so the last statement isn’t an improvement.

I am a firm believer in the 1st Amendment and have a pension for colorful vernacular myself but at some point the swearing gets obnoxious.  Obscenity throughout the game is heavy-handed in general but becomes inexcusable during an early boss fight.  Leading up to the fight a 90s action movie banter takes place between Dante and the boss.  The somewhat amusing quips are abruptly halted by 30 seconds of characters screaming “Fuck you” back-and-forth.  It was horrible.  I wasn’t put-off by the language; I was offended by bad dialogue and robbed of the joy an otherwise promising segment would’ve provided.  The dialogue remains inconsistent throughout the rest of the game.  Some scenes (between Dante and his brother or Kat) are well-written and others are just, well, “fuck you.”

The overall story will be familiar to Devil May Cry fans but has taken a new and refreshing direction.  More importantly the story telling is good (for a “Style-Based” Beat ‘em Up).  It’s over-the-top but tempered.  Dante gets dressed to rock music while flipping through the air in an exploding mobile home… but it draws a line I’m thankful for:  The cutscenes aren’t obsessed with showing you how much cooler Dante is at being Dante than you are.  

Cutscenes are well paced.  They’re scattered throughout the stage and never force gameplay to take a backseat to the spectacle like in previous installments.  Some dialogue even has the decency to take place as you play the game.

DmC has moved into that vacant lot between ridiculous and awesome.  I wouldn’t say it fully feng shui’ed the space though.  DmC misses several opportunities to be remarkable.  The sophomoric allure of dropping the F-Bomb and having demon sex earthquakes is just too strong.

My greatest lament is that Kat, the token female support, never gets the relationship she deserves with Dante.  She’s the first person Dante meets and she’s actually a rather unique character.  I like the Wicca tagger direction they take for a mortal psychic. She’s not the arbitrary female baddass or an entirely hapless damsel.  She saves Dante a time or two and gives our aloof protagonist his first conflict of conscience.  It’s a relationship that borders on a love interest but it never matures.  It was a shame because there solid cutscenes focused on the relationship and levels involving the interaction of the two as gameplay.  When gameplay and story intersect you’re on the verge of true greatness.

Gameplay is where DmC excels.  There are some incredibly robust combat controls (reliant on timing) and everything looks stylish.  Attacks have weight to them and enemies show the force of Dante’s blows.  There are no pointless ragdoll physics here just rockin’ visceral goodness.

I have one bone to pick with the combat.  There were tons of combos but most of them required you switching between holding either R2 or L2 while smashing another button.  It took some crazy, octopus-hand gymnastics to get the hang of and I never truly mastered it.

The level design and overall art were the real homerun for me.  Salvador Dali and Edvard Munch cranked up some In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda, huffed some paint, and then tag-teamed the scenery of DmC.  They consulted with H.R. Geiger for the enemies.  Walls scream at you, sidewalks tear-away and become platforming segments.  Good art meets game mechanics.  I love it.

It’s a damn good thing the levels are so beautiful because you’ll be seeing a lot of them.  There are half a dozen difficulty modes to challenge yourself with (complete with a Devil May Ironman Mode) and plenty of unlockables that require multiple playthroughs.  I’m not a fan of linear games forcing me to play them again for a different hairdo and a new coat.  DmC had enough depth in gameplay and such an interesting world that replaying the game was enjoyable; a rare feat.

I managed to play DmC without expectations and an odd thing happened.  I wanted more from it.  I was sad that it missed a couple of opportunities to be more than just a good Beat ‘em Up but a great game instead.  Despite the cheap shock value and nails-on-chalkboard dialogue moments, DmC ekes out some real substance (with a side of awesome).

And it’s better than that piece of shit with Nero in it.