Does the first game of 2013 set a good standard for the year? Find out in our DMC: Devil May Cry review.
Published on Jan 11, 2013
Our biggest fear when finishing DMC: Devil May Cry was you. Well, not you, but the Royal You: the wider internet that, for reasons unfathomable by a sensible, normal-thinking human being, has decided it hates the new DMC.
And you, Mr Joe Internet, should not hate DMC.
Ninja Theory has done an excellent job with Capcom’s seemingly most-treasured franchise, not only in keeping it firmly rooted in the past, but giving it a modern appeal at the same time.
And Dante – even with his black hair – is one of the reasons Ninja Theory has done such a good job. Truth be told this isn’t the same Dante you remember and that no doubt makes you weep silly little tears, but hear us out.
Dante is a character. Obviously we don’t mean he is a character, instead that he is a character, managing to stand out in a game where demons yell expletives at every possible turn. And that’s no easy task.
He’s crude, aggressive and full to the brim with puns – which, thinking about it, is actually a lot like the original Dante – with a particular highlight being the moment when Dante taunts a multi-storey car park of a boss by calling him an asshole.
It’s not funny because rude words make us laugh (they do), nor is it in the delivery. Instead it’s the context: that Dante’s favourite way to start a battle is to refer to his aggressor as a person’s southern-most orifice. That is who this new Dante is, and it’s hard not to love him.
Check out one full (awesome) level of DMC: Devil May Cry.
So if that’s the issue of New Dante answered, then, what about combat? Well there’s no worry here. It’s a considered system that’s as open to experimentation as it is entertainment.
By utilising three different weapons (not including Ebony and Ivory) combat is awash with opportunities. Heavier Hell weapons break shields and deal damage, while the Heaven equivalent are about managing crowds and keeping those enemy juggles in the air as long as possible.
All this ties into the basic sword – the Rebellion – making for a system ripe for opportunities to combo your way around a battle arena. It’s slick, open to interpretation and – most of all – a lot of fun.
New enemies are introduced consistently throughout DMC: Devil May Cry too, meaning you’ve always got something new to learn. As the tougher enemies start to appear, your grasp of the combat system will need to evolve.
Add in the increasingly inventive ways of adding in different hazards that force you to rethink a strategy and you've got a beat-'em-up capable of sitting alongside the best.
Yet while you can simply D-Rank every battle by tapping Y over and over again, doing so will take more time. Using the combat system to its fullest will see you obliterate enemies and, really, isn’t that what DMC was always about?
The inventiveness of the levels wanes a little towards the end, but by that point you're already hooked.
The ability unlock system is a little superfluous admittedly, offering only a handful of new combos and instead providing subtle – and usually unnoticeable – damage upgrades or tweaked effects.
But then adding too many new combos would overcomplicate the system, and we can’t imagine restricting the majority basic combos behind unnecessary unlock gates would have made the game quite as fun to play as it is.
In other words, that’s not really a criticism.
Combat is spliced together by bouts of platforming, and this is where elements of Ninja Theory’s Enslaved really start to shine through. The balance is spot on, so you’re never double-jumping for too long without slicing open a demon or two.
The platformng sections become increasingly challenging too, which is surprising considering it really only relies on the use of a grabby whip and a pullly whip – which, by the way, aren’t their official terms.
Most interesting are the levels themselves, which manage to provide something genuinely unique even after all these years. Ninja Theory’s interpretation of Limbo provides some honest-to-god standout moments that really highlight the developer’s penchant for creativity.
There’s little like it in the series before, and if this is a tease of things to come – whether DMC or otherwise – we should all expect great things from Ninja Theory in the future.
Knowing what attacks to use and when is important in later battles.
The addition of collectables, too, means there’s plenty of scope to explore the otherwise linear levels, while ability unlocks require you to go back into previous levels if you want to collect everything and complete all the challenge rooms.
But then going back and playing the game is almost expected with DMC. In all honesty the initial highest difficulty – Nephilim – isn’t all that difficult, and will be easily completed by anyone even remotely familiar with the genre.
Luckily further difficulties provide a wealth of options to those really wishing to test themselves, whether it’s Son Of Sparda’s more resilient enemies and harder enemy waves or Hell And Hell mode, which sees Dante vanquished with a single hit.
Nephilim, then, is the training session. The standard range of enemies to teach you the mechanics of each of Dante’s arsenal, as well as the possible encounters you could face and how to beat them.
On harder difficulties bosses even include additional attack patterns, just to mix things up for you. It is in the tougher modes where DMC really shines.
So outside of the characters, the world and the fancy facial motion capture, it is this that is the real benefit of having the Enslaved team work on DMC: Devil May Cry.
Earning S-Rank isn't mandatory, but it does make you feel like a boss.
It’s not obtusely difficult, meaning anyone – yes, including you – can play DMC: Devil May Cry. The options are there for anyone who wants a challenge, but at its base level this is open to as many players as possible and that’s really what Capcom needs for the franchise.
Which brings us right back to our initial point. Ninja Theory’s reboot of Devil May Cry is better than anyone expected, ourselves included, and if it doesn’t sell well because of some misplaced nostalgic love of the franchise then we’re seriously very worried for the games industry.
Version Tested: Xbox 360
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DMC: Devil May Cry is a fantastic take on a much-loved franchise. Ninja Theory is fast becoming one of our favourite developers, and with superlative efforts like this it is easy to see why.