Review: DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3)
Title: DmC: Devil May Cry
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (6.7 GB)
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Developer: Ninja Theory
ESRB Rating: M
Devil May Cry is also available on Xbox 360 and PC (January 25th)
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review
I’ve never been a ‘Devil May Cry’ fan honestly. The combo-heavy gameplay really never was my thing, but I did always like watching other people play the game. The series always brought a new sense of stylistic action to the screen, but it also brought new level of reflex-challenging insanity to anyone playing the game.
In this new, rebooted DmC, the folks at Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved) have brought a new Dante to the series. The story is now based in the near future, and Dante doesn’t care about anything or anyone. I won’t go any more into the story though, because as usual, we want to stay as spoiler-free as possible. I will say though, that the story is actually pretty well done throughout, with some great twists and turns along the way.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 302 of the podcast.
I hope you have three hands, because there are a ton of moves at your disposal. You’ll start out with a sword (name Rebellion) and your trusty pistols, aptly named ‘Ebony and Ivory.’ Throughout the story, you’ll acquire new weapons and abilities, either by finding them or by applying upgrade points that you earn from mission to mission. You’ll also be collecting “red orbs” during your journey, which can be used to purchase items such as stars used to replenish your health or to increase the size of your health bar, to name a couple.
Each weapon that you obtain has numerous updates available, all of which are opened using the upgrade points earned. You can, at any time, re-task any points with no penalty, if you realize that you want to add more abilities to a weapon that you favor. In all, there are probably about 75 updates total across all of your weapons. Even if you’re a perfectionist, obtaining all of the upgrades will require playing through the game more than once. Also, for the trophy hunters out there, you’ve got your work cut out for you, as I can guarantee that you’ll have to play through AT LEAST twice if not more. The initial three difficulties available at the start range from challenging to essentially as hard as the original PS2 games. Tougher difficulties can be unlocked by finishing the game, and at the same time, costumes and weapon variations (cosmetic) can be obtained in the same way.
Gameplay itself is pretty frantic. You’ll end-up working from three move sets, one neutral, and the other two I don’t want to spoil. To use the other to sets, you’ll hold either R2 or L2, allowing you even greater control over the insane combos that are possible. X is your jump, Square is used for your guns and variants, Triangle is used for your standard melee, and Circle is for a stronger melee and sometimes for your lift move. If you’re good enough, you can create some intense and lengthy move chains, which is good since your scores depend greatly on your Style. The scoring system is based on not only Style, but also how long it takes you to get through the mission, how many secrets you find, and if you died or used any items. Your scores for each mission will be loaded to the online leaderboards, which are separate for every mission.
For me, I got used to the controls mostly, but I’ll never be very good at chaining moves together very well. In old-school brawler fashion, I just mash a few buttons while occasionally using a grab move to extend it. Gameplay is pretty smooth though, even though Dante can still get caught-up in a combo animation occasionally. It’s not as bad as some other games, but it still can happen when you don’t want it to. I will say though, with three different move sets at your disposal at all times, and the ability to switch the weapon of each type in real time with the d-pad, things got pretty confusing when the action got frantic. I even uttered, out loud, a couple of times “really, MORE moves?” Don’t get me wrong though, for folks that love gameplay like this, you’re definitely in for a treat.
You’ll see a literal evolution of what we’ve seen in Ninja Theory’s last two titles, and as in Enslaved, Unreal Engine is what they’ve used. The game looks great most of the time, but it’s not perfect. There’s a weird lighting thing going on, mainly with the characters. One of Ninja Theory’s strengths is in capturing performances into their games, and DmC only shows that their skills have grown. Weirdly though, shadowing on characters gets caught on the polygons that make the character up, and well, it just looks weird. Also, I get the whole handicam thing that’s become prevalent in motion captured cutscenes, but the shakiness got to be a bit much at times.
Past that though, the game really is visually stunning. The game takes place mostly in Limbo, and because of that, the level designers were allowed to take their creativity of variants of the real-world locations to new heights. Environments actually vary greatly in Limbo, and it just keeps getting better as you traverse to your destination.
The camera, controllable mostly with the right stick, can be a bit wonky at times. I know that it’s an inherent issue with any 3rd-person game, but in a couple of cases, the camera snapped to a spot no where near the enemy that I was battling, which became increasingly frustrating. Overall, it’s not bad, but those instances did stick in my mind as something that annoyed me.
Animation is also extremely well done in all aspects. Some boss battles, as you’d expect from Ninja Theory, are quite over the top, and are actually some of the extreme high-points in the game. Quite refreshing is the fact that they did a pretty nice job at keeping things relatively fresh, in gameplay and visually. The overall visual design is very well done, and definitely add to overall enjoyment of the game.
Sporting full DTS support, the sound in DmC envelops you from beginning to end. Every swipe of a blade and shot of a gun comes through clearly with a great emphasis on every sound channel available. Also, the voice acting, as expected, is top-notch with not even one stinker in the mix. This is definitely a game that you could use to test your new surround system or gaming headphones!
The only online element in DmC is the availability of online leaderboards, which are available for each individual mission in the game. The standard filters are available in each leaderboard. Your scores upload automatically at the end of each mission, and so far at least, they seem to be very responsive.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing this game at first. Our man in the UK, Raj, was supposed to. When the game arrived, I popped it open and started playing so I could talk about it on the podcast. Then, we realized that the embargo didn’t lift for a couple of days, so I took the reviewing duties over. I’m actually surprised that I finished the game, and because I did, I wonder if that’s a good or a bad thing. I’m no expert on the past series, but I do know that the games were always pretty challenging. The fact that they added a couple of easier difficulties definitely made the game more accessible, but DmC purists may hate that they did so. Luckily for them, there are definitely difficulties available that will challenge even the most experienced ‘Devil May Cry’ veteran.
Even with some weird yet minor issues, ‘DmC: Devil May Cry’ is a really good game. I’d say that Ninja Theory have done a great job with rebooting the franchise, and have definitely earned some props with this one. Even with the ridiculous end-boss (thanks to Phil Kollar for revealing the obvious to me), DmC should satisfy anyone looking for an over-the-top, action-packed experience with an amazing flair for the cinematic.