January 14, 2013
From the off, you're exposed to just what sort of character this new Dante. Shrugging off a rather heavy night out, Dante recovers to be rather nonchalant while subduing a rather mean Hunter Demon. This casual, carefree routine continues for a while, but Dante does grow as the plot unfolds - even challenging those who're close to him.
Mundus, the game's main antagonist, also provides a solid impetus to continue. Despite enslaving humanity, Mundas has always worried about the son of Sparda due to his lineage. Due to having a demon and an angel for parents, Dante is a Nephilim, a creature that's far more powerful. This means that while you're gunning for Mundas, he's also gunning for you and it creates a nice balance throughout.
Gameplay has always been Devil May Cry's biggest selling point and with a new developer on board, there were fears that the essence of this franchise would be lost. If you were one of the people who had those fears, set them aside now as the gameplay delivers.
As you would expect, Dante starts off with a rather limited arsenal - his trusty sword and pistols. Even with such a small array of weapons, you're still able to string together some rather special combos and that's the whole appeal of Devil May Cry. Often, you'll have to fight off a few enemies at once, but it's how you micro-manage this, while pulling off awesome combos, that makes it different. And as you traverse further through the game, things become all the most complicated, but also satisfying.
Aside from the default arsenal, Dante's weapons are split into Angel and Demon. There are also multiple variants in these categories, meaning at the end of the game you'll end up with three projectile weapons, two Angel weapons, two Demon weapons and the basic sword. It might seem mind-boggling at first, but these can all be put together in a single combo.
To switch between weapon classes, you need to simply hold the relevant shoulder button. This converts your sword into either a scythe or a massive axe. However, to take things further, you can also use the d-pad to change which weapon will appear when you press a shoulder button. This is also the case for the projectile weapons, such as the pistols, shotgun and grenade launcher.
Ninja Theory were nice enough to include some rather crazy combos during the loading screens, but you'll have tons of fun trying to defeat enemies in creative ways without that. There's even a mode included that was designed for this specific reason, allowing you to practice using the different weapons together. It might take a little while too, especially with the ability to use your weapons as a leash. You can pull enemies towards you, or pull yourself towards the enemies. This helps to elongate combos to no end.
Perhaps the best thing about all this choice is how Dante handles. Even with so many different options, the weapons all flow together remarkably well, all while Dante runs around with his cocky swagger. There's a fantastic mixture, with weapons that offer limited damage, with the ability to throw down sustained damage (Aquila), but also others that whack a huge punch, but require much more timing and precision (Eryx).
When it comes to the different enemies, there's quite an interesting selection to be found. You've got those that offer the typical cannon fodder, albeit while still packing some punch if you give them the chance, but there are others that can cause some severe damage. Some will have "charge" moves, whereby they can't be damaged or stunning for a short period of time, while others can only be damaged using certain types of weapons. It's understandable why these enemies were included - it makes the game much tougher - but it can be a bit annoying to see Dante stagger, flow ruined, because he attacked with the wrong weapon.
There are also some platforming sections that utilise the leash function of Dante's weapons. These don't add a great deal to the overall experience, but their inclusion is sparse when compared to the amount of combat on offer, so it doesn't matter all that much.
DmC: Devil May Cry gets a lot of points for its style and direction. Despite being rather brazen and grotesque in some instances, this never feels like a bad thing. The script writing also fits, with lines offering some genuine comedic value, unlike many other games of a similar ilk that just come across as cheap and corny. It's something that Ninja Theory deserve a lot of credit for, although it's an area of their development that we've come to expect high levels of quality from.
Dante's appearance and the world around him, also make for good viewing. Limbo City plays a very prominent part in the whole experience and how this is handled is also very impressive. There are also some rather unorthodox scenes, such as when Dante ventures into the Raptor News Network.
As you might expect from a Devil May Cry game, completing it once is just half the fun. There are a multitude of different difficult options there to tease you, ranging from the classic Dante Must Die, to Heaven and Hell, where everything (including you) dies in one hit. For the extreme out there, Hell and Heaven offers perhaps the most challenging of experiences, as Dante dies in one hit, but enemies have full health. It means there's plenty to keep people occupied outside combo scores and collectibles.
DmC: Devil May Cry is a shining example of how to handle a reboot and other publishers should take note. Not only does it retain many of the core elements that fans of the franchise have come to expect, it also offers a rather different experience at the same time. This might not be the Dante we're all used to, but based on this, it looks like it's a Dante that's going to be around for a little while longer.
DmC: Devil May Cry was reviewed on the Xbox 360. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.