I’m not sure if I’ve ever played a video game franchise “reboot” before. I always assumed the sentiment must be like living through the 500th reboot of Batman or Spiderman and being a purist geek snob about the original series. I’ve never been the person whose lived to tell the tale of said franchise until now. I have to say… it just makes me feel sentimental and old. Okay, mostly old. I have now lived long enough to see a series I was introduced to in high school live its course (to a crashing halt) and witness it arising from the ashes with a new line of demon designs and sex appeal, hoping to draw in the new crowd of gamers who probably haven’t played the previous Devil May Cry games.
I’m going to come out and admit that Dante was pretty much always a stuck up prick with terrible one-liners. So when this new Dante rolled around with black hair and spouted pretty similar one-liners colored with some potty-mouthing, I shrugged and went along with it. I get what the developers were trying to do. What I don’t get is how my 14 year old self would’ve thought about the new son of Sparda. Or, sons of Sparda, really, because Vergil has undergone a complete makeover as well. My only comment about the new Vergil is that his top hat doesn’t really do it for him, despite his impressively accessorized wardrobe.
Instead of being half human and half demon, the new sons of Sparda are “Nephilim”– half-angel, half-demon. Don’t ask me to explain how in the world that relationship started, because the game doesn’t really bother to explain this unlikely union. They do go so far as to refer to Dante and Vergil’s existence as being “inconceivable” (or something like that), then five minutes later you’re given a story about how the race of Nephilim were all slaughtered because the demons feared their powers. Makes sense, right? Don’t ask for too much consistency or intelligence from the storytelling, because this game certainly lacks in that aspect. We all know Capcom haven’t been geniuses with exposition in past DmC entries, but this story takes the cake. Someone thought it’d be all edgy and cool to do social commentary. In this universe, demons pull the strings and have worked their way into our government, big banking and food industries. They’ve got us by the balls. If only that were the true explanation for America’s current state. It’s a decent and relevant parallel, I’ll give them that. But instead of weaving, I dunno, subtle or suggestive themes into their exposition, they beat you across the face with their “clever” idea the entire game. To the point where enormous words are just splayed across the screen. Whatever happened to the art of story telling? Providing clues and inferences but ultimately allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions? Your intelligence should feel offended after playing this game. Bob Barbas could not look or sound more like a Fox News pundit if he was wearing the confederate flag as a do-rag.
About feeling old. I seem to remember days in the distant past when controllers only had a few buttons. Directional pad, pause button, jump and action button. Now I feel like I need a damn keyboard or a Razr mouse to hotkey everything I want to do while playing console games! Dante’s half-demon, half-angel background serves as the host for the most complicated Devil May Cry battle system ever. The array of weapons Dante has access to are primarily polar: angel and demon. Then there’s guns. The angel and demon weapons are fun alternatives to using Rebellion (which is still awesome in this game) and in the end you’ll be alternating between three different guns, two angel weapons and two demon weapons. For the PS3 version of this game, in order to use an angel or demon weapon, you need to hold down the L2 or R2 button, respectively. Which means most of the time you’ll be pressing at least 2 buttons to attack. I accustomed myself to that quickly enough. But the grappling system and toggling between two trigger buttons one after another continued to annoy me my entire playthrough.
Does there really have to be two different grapples? I didn’t have much luck switching immediately from the demon pull to the angel pull while traversing platforms or fighting enemies. While fighting enemies and managing 5 different melee weapons and trying to kill things as fast as possible and dodge perfectly to increase my style points (a great feature preserved in the reboot) I wasn’t good at negotiating which grabs to use on top of all that. I usually pressed square to grab with whichever trigger button I happened to be holding down at the time.
I really enjoyed the different weapons in DmC. The only one I haven’t really spent much time with is Eryx. Think of the Hercules gauntlets in God of War, except not as fun. It is lackluster compared to the other demon weapon, the Arbiter: a beefy axe with better combo potential which also shells out insane amounts of damage. Both the angel weapons are flashy and designed for crowd controlling. Their damage output is significantly lower. Rebellion is your well-rounded weapon good at almost everything. For guns, Ebony and Ivory have returned, and you also get a shotgun and a weapon called Kablooey: a sticky-grenade shooter which allows you to decide when to detonate the demons.
Unsurprisingly, a basic run-through of this game’s missions won’t take you too long to complete. I found the battle system to be a bit too ambitious for the length of the story mode. To really get to enjoy what this game has to offer, you definitely need to do more than a dry run. If you’re into replaying the game on every difficulty (and this game has PLENTY of those) you’ll get plenty of experimentation time. I suggest dedicating some time in Training Mode after acquiring all of your melee weapons. And assigning skill points to the Demon and Angel Evade abilities and practice the timing on those. The damage bonus on the Demon Evade is great. The game is a little misleading when it comes to dodging as well. The PS3 version says you need to press R1 to dodge. When I saw the description for Demon Evade I said, “How am I going to press R2 and R1 at the same time to perform a Demon Evade? That’s not very intuitive.” And it isn’t. Except you can press L1 to dodge as well. You just need to figure that bit out on your own.
Most of the fighting in this game takes place in “Limbo”– AKA, Purgatory from Bayonetta. A recycled concept, but it works. I have to give them credit when it comes to scenery. I found the level designs (even with the frustrating grapple mechanics) and backgrounds (Minus the enormous words) much more fitting in this game. Many levels in the previous Devil May Cry games were pretty boring. In this game, there’s a lot of wandering souls, rust and distortion; akin to Silent Hill’s otherworld sequences in some instances. You’ll be exploring the scenery quite a bit as well if you are interested in “releasing” all of the Lost Souls and discovering all of the keys to unlock the hidden doors.
If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve made it quite apparent that I’m not the most patient or skilled gamer. I never play games on hard difficulties, and I almost never farm items or perform pointless tasks just so I can say I did them. Since the Devil May Cry entries are so short, I usually take the time to find the hidden doors (not so hidden in this installment) and perform the tasks. This game is WAY easier than previous namesakes. *Cough* DevilMayCry3 *Cough* I was able to do all of the secret missions within a handful of attempts, and none of them made me want to bash my head against the wall. Some of them I even completed on the first try. An unheard of attempt in other entries. The developers were even kind enough to scale the difficulty by door types: Copper, Argent, Silver, Gold and Ivory. Easiest to Hardest, respectively. I barely noticed a difference, in all honesty. The gold doors required more practice. They included races against time to collect orbs or traverse platforms or pass certain markers. But they aren’t really hard. And the timed doors usually give you plenty of time to complete the objective; this typically meant killing all of the enemies within whatever convoluted parameters they managed to conjure up. The annoying battle mechanic the doors took complete advantage of are the enemies who only take advantage to certain weapon types. Plus, as in other DmC games, you’re rewarded with permanent power-ups, so they aren’t a complete waste of time. Collecting the Lost Souls is pretty much pointless, but again, it is an easy task so I went ahead and did that as well.
One more rant before I close this up. This is the second blockbuster video game release in a row I’ve played that is loaded to the teeth with glitches. (Assassin’s Creed III being the other, of course) I swear, if Dead Space 3 is as riddled with technical errors I seriously give up. I was one of the lucky individuals who had the major sound glitch. The music and sound effects cut out on and off throughout my entire playthrough. Pretty distracting. And a pretty glaring issue to overlook. This game crashed my PS3 once. Whenever I skipped the cutscene in the beginning of the Virility mission, Dante and Kat decided they were going to carry on their conversation anyway on top of the following one at the same time. Try following two conversations at once, especially when you’re on a third playthrough of a level and don’t really care to hear either of them again.
I think this reboot is a positive direction for the series. The developers did a good job of preserving the heart and soul of the DmC series while breathing new life into it. The battle system is as stylish and polished as ever. Thanks to the all-too-predictable “OMG don’t kill him!” ending, we’re almost guaranteed a sequel. And I’m all right with that.