DmC: Devil May Cry Xbox 360 Review
Fans of the original series probably thought quite a few things when this game was announced, and stated as much when concept art was released. With some major characters from the original games getting huge re-vamps, and the world itself being a much different setup than the games that played out on the PlayStation 2, DmC: Devil May Cry might actually be a game that people new to the series might enjoy more than longtime players. However, at its core, it is still about a man that is the son of a major demon taking on demons to protect the human world. More to the point, similar to every other Devil May Cry game, it is a hack-and-slash arcade-style platformer, with each segment of the game separated into missions. While Ninja Theory and Capcom may not have given us a game that we remember from twelve, or even five, years ago, they have still tried to stick to the basic inspiration of the game.
One major change from the original Devil May Cry series is that series protagonist Dante, the Son of Sparda happens to have an angel for a mother, which is provided for the reason that The Demon King Mundus is after him. The game incorrectly calls him a nephilim, a misuse of the word also recently made in Darksiders II, because the word sounds cool for a description of a child of an angel and a demon. Of course, if one wants to be technical, Dante was one in the previous timeline (what with demons technically being fallen angels), so let’s just stick with what works. His parentage seems to give him interesting natural abilities. These including healing quickly from injuries (such as gigantic claw lacerations down his back, as seen in the opening cut scene), summoning a sword (yes, it’s Rebellion), conducting aerial acrobatics in the middle of disintegrating environs, getting dressed in midair, and going commando for basically three days without a change in clothing (he starts the game naked, just so that things can be awkward and the animators can think of clever ways to obscure his crotch until he gets dressed). Eventually, he also gets two demonic weapons (an axe and huge burning fists), two angelic weapons (a scythe and two oversized three-pointed cyclone blades), a hook either for grappling towards things or pulling things towards you, and guns (of course, one option is Ebony & Ivory). It’s a fairly large arsenal by the end of the game, allowing for a nice variation of combat styles and combination mixing choices.
As far as the plot goes, Mundus is trying to find and kill Dante, as a nephilim is apparently the only being in existence that can kill a Demon King, and Dante has recently been fighting with some random demons. Mundus starts out by bringing Dante to Limbo, a demonic under-layer of the real world that can only be seen by certain special people, or by people that are actually in it. Basically all of the in-game action takes place in Limbo, since many of the major demons that you need to take down are hidden behind the veil. This includes a succubus that is putting something extra into a popular soft drink to keep people fat and stupid, a newscaster called Bob Barbas (presumably the Great President of Hell Barbas in disguise) that spreads falsehoods while stating that he’s “just doing God’s work”, and Mundus’ consort Lilith. Aiding Dante in this quest are an occult medium named Kat and a mystery man named Vergil (although fans of the series already know who he is). While Dante doesn’t initially know who he is, learning more about his past aids in his angelic and demonic development, although his demonic aspects tend to shine a little brighter in most respects. The final showdowns are some insane missions, since Mundus controls Limbo, and when you mess with him, things just go sideways. As the Demon King himself puts it, “You don’t f@#$ with a god.” Well, at least he didn’t call himself THE God, right?
Ancient legends tend to permeate the game. Some of Dante’s weapons are named for figures in ancient history. The blind seer Phineas from Greek Legend makes an appearance, along with the harpies that are said to attack him. There are a few other easter eggs around that allude to legends and myths, but most of the story is on its own. The does seem to borrow ideas from other sources, albeit most are to great effect. These include the idea that nothing is what it seems on the surface (an idea as old as Don Quixote, but more recently seen from authors such as Charles DeLint and Neil Gaiman). The possibility that the introduction of a substance on an unknowing populace can influence people to be more docile (Young Justice also has the soda-as-mind-control bit, but there’s also the fluoride-in-tap-water conspiracy theory), and that fighting the system leads to more freedom for everybody, even individuals that don’t realize that they’re receiving freedom.
On the actual game play side, most of the missions tend to flow quite well from one step to the next. Combat occurs in a way that is challenge while not being completely impossible. The combinations are all fairly intuitive, although combos that require pauses are somewhat unforgiving on the timing. Do it too early, and you do a different combination; do it too late, and you start a new combo. Admittedly, some enemies are a little more difficult to avoid without paying extremely close attention, and the camera doesn’t always seem to aim at what you are intending to attack. That’s mostly solved by playing to eliminate enemies quickly and efficiently, especially since you get scored for it. Once you figure out how to eliminate enemies – luckily, the hardest ones are color-coded so you can figure out whether to use an angel or demon weapon – the game flows far easier, but the initial time, it’s a grind. The platforming tends to be one of the most fun parts, especially after receiving the grappling hook. Playacting as Spider-Man never can go wrong in a video game, provided it makes sense.
I will admit that the one point of doubt in my mind about the game quality was Combichrist being the composer. Save for live performances, it’s just one man doing all of the recording (similar to other groups that come to mind). However, as the game designers do not have it permeate the game, only having these compositions present in intense situations (the introductory sequence, combat situations, high-stress platforming), it is a nice addition. While it probably won’t make many people that play DmC pick up one of Combichrist’s albums, they could have done far worse, like a full symphony orchestra.
As far as paying homage to the original series, there are a few bits. As previously mentioned, a few of the default weapons in the game are the same. Some of the combat mechanics are also present, especially when one uses Ebony & Ivory. There’s also a moment in the first mission where a boutique explodes, a white longer-haired wig lands on Dante’s head, he sees himself in a mirror, and takes it off, saying, “Not in a million years.” Interestingly, by the end of the game, Dante’s use of his demonic and angelic powers have given him mostly white hair, even though it is a short chop job. He still wears a trench coat and combat boots, even if he has a wife beater instead of a zip-up vest and just straight-up jeans instead of custom pants and chaps. Plus, let’s face it, he’s still a badass that kills demons.
Overall, while some parts of the game are a little laborious, the game itself is fun to play, especially when what could otherwise be an exceedingly long level is broken up between multiple missions. If Capcom decides to make a DmC sequel, they have made a good foundation for it.
+ Intuitive combat mechanics that flow easily
+ Platforming that is both creative and fun
+ Allusions to other stories and media that do not feel heavy-handed
+ A story that feels complete upon its ending
– Some camera control issues
– Some of the boss levels can get tiresome if not defeated properly the first time
– The block-and-evade system can be slow to respond at times
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Author: Nicholas Villarreal