Developer: Ninja Theory
Devil May Cry Review (360,PS3, PC)
Ninja Theory’s take on the Devil May Cry universe has created an insane amount of fuss. The fan back lash at the new look Dante and the more ‘gritty’ tone has been fierce, but is the backlash justified? Or merely misplaced?
From the off it’s clear that this Dante is closer to the off the rails, angst filled, teenager character model than a wise cracking slick demon slayer. Ninja Theory have tried to install a more human quality to Dante through his orphan origins and unrest over the uncertainty over his child hood. It’s fair to say that this incarnation of Dante is a more sleazy thanks to his love of alcohol, strippers and sex.
The games opening showcases all of Dante’s traits along with the concept of switching between the real world and limbo. Dante is not alone in his exploits in limbo, a young witch named Kat fills the side kick role, as well as a providing a few clichés later on in the game. Much like Ninja Theory’s Enslaved, Dante and Kat begin to bond through the course of the game further adding to Dante’s more human nature and motivation to fight. Dante’s brother Vergil also makes appearance with his new look. From here the plot begins to thread out with a rather generic tale of stopping a all powerful demon, known as Mundus, while carrying out a act of revenge.
The most interesting feature of Devil May Cry’s story is that sheer amount of symbolism in nearly every chapter. The media and financial services of the world are the weapons of choice that Mundas prefer to wield, at least in the human world. The media is portrayed as a overly zealous entity fronted by a Bill O’Reilly like anchor man , whom in Limbo is a powerful demon. Throughout the game Dante will encounter various subliminal messages only present when in limbo. It’s a nice touch that does a decent job of garnishing the stories main plot. Fans of the 1988 cult hit ‘They Live’ will no doubt enjoy the social commentary sprayed around the game.
While the game focuses more on story than any of the other past Devil May Cry titles that doesn’t mean the action suffers. At its heart Devil May Cry is still all about chaining combos together while keeping on top of crowd control. Dante has access to four sets of weapons, all of which become a key element to combat. The classic combo of Dante’s sword (Rebellion) and dual pistols (Ebony and Ivory) are still present and provide a base for the combat. Angelic and Demonic weapons provide a source of creativity along with a much more opportunity to chain combos together. The weapons also act as tools for exploration, each level is littered with numerous areas filled with items. The before mentioned rooms are often blocked off by a obstacle that is only destructible when using certain weapon types.
Each weapon has a number of unlockable combos, as well as combo levels, that can be purchased with red orbs. Players still earn the majority of their orbs by stringing together slick combo, as well as avoiding any damage. The usual array of items of Devil May Cry items appear in the store. Vitality stars, items that permanently increases Dantes health and the like are all present. On the surface, there does seem to be a lack of skills to unlock but this becomes less of a issue as more weapons are introduced. The key component to the use of weapons is the players ability to mix and match and refrain from spamming the weapon throughout the game.
Those looking for a challenge may be disappointed with the accessibility Devil May Cry has to offer. The basic difficulty modes feel more like a training run rather than a true test of skill. Thankfully there are four unlockable difficultly settings that push the tempo much harder creating a actual challenging way to play. It’s harsh to class the standard difficulty settings as dumbed down, instead things feel a more tuned and refined allowing for gradual progression from setting to setting. For the most part Devil May Cry has tight controls allowing for smooth combat and gameplay. There are some cases of things becoming a bit fiddly when dealing with platforming sections, but these are don’t play that much of a role throughout the game. The camera can also offer a few issues with certain levels providing structures and set dressing that obscures the players view.
While Devil May Cry is a slick hack and slash title, with smooth gameplay and decent presentation, there are some issues that hinder the game. Level design, especially towards the closing acts, becomes repetitive and uninspired. The free flowing combat also comes to a halt with the increasing amounts of enemies that are only effected by either demonic or angelic weapons. It’s not rare to find yourself slashing through waves of enemies,with a combination of weapons, only to hit a wall thanks to a certain type of enemy. It truly breaks up the pace and the enjoyment of the combat, it’s simply a overused game mechanic. The most annoying issue is perhaps the most surprising, the script.
The entire cast of characters come off as rather one dimensional thanks to a poor script. For the most part Kat just gives instructions while Vergil just spurts out generic lines. Dante’s script consists of purely lame replies and swear words that rarely provide the intended laughs. It’s quite disappointing that the script isn’t much up to much given Ninja Theory’s past games. The social commentary is a double edged sword, some will love it while others will find it pretentious. At first the commentary does add a nice theme to the early levels, towards the end however it feels more forced, perhaps even a little exhausted. On the flip side, there is one boss battle that uses the social commentary on the media to great it effect. While the battle itself may not be all that fresh, the imagery and presentation is fantastic and it certain to at least command some respect from players. Further on in the game is a second display of brilliant imagery and use of music, but this is only for a short time and feels like a missed opportunity.
Devil May Cry is simply a enjoyable game that could have been great. The gameplay is great and the combat flows wonderfully. The early level designs and imagery provide some interesting settings and themes which sets up a great end game experience. The problem is things start to feel rather stale towards the end. Partner that with a story, and cast, that’s hard to care about and the end result is a game that has potential but fails to build upon it. With more development and work on the story telling and script, along with the level design, any possible sequel could provide a truly great experiences. Devil May Cry is a good game, but not a great one, and this is the most frustrating thing about Ninja Theory’s take on the franchise.
Devil May Cry Review (360,PS3, PC),