Set in an alternate universe to the previous games in the series, DmC tries, perhaps a little too hard, to set Dante up as an off-the-rails teenager living a life of debauchery in the opening cinematic. Weíre also introduced to Mundus, the human manifestation of the demon king, who not only lives on Earth, but who also controls some of humanityís most influential people via debt. Before the cinematic ends, Mundus smells Dante on the air and sends demon-spawn after him.
As much as the story is about Danteís battle with Mundus, it also explains more about Danteís past; how he came to be, who is parents are, why he canít remember his past, and why it is that Mundus wants to see him dead. Itís a journey of awakening and discovery for Dante, and he transforms from a pretentious rebel without a cause, intoÖ well, a pretentious rebel with a cause. Needless to say, despite a few of Danteís one-liners falling flat, you will come to like him, or at least dislike him less, as the story progresses.
When it comes to weapons Dante has a wide range to choose from. His default weapon is the Rebellion sword, which is both fast and deals decent damage. Itís useful in both single combat and against smaller groups. Danteís other weapons, which unlock as you progress through the game, are broken into two types Ė angel and demon Ė used by holding down the left or right triggers. In this way it is possible to switch between weapons on the fly, allowing for seamless combos using three (or more) weapons without breaking stride.
There are two angel weapons, Osiris, a massive scythe, and Aquila which is a large pair of shuriken. Angel weapons specialize in crowd-control because they attack with lightning speed, but do minimal damage. Osiris grows more powerful the more it is used in a row, but even at its most powerful it doesnít deal major damage. The Aquila have the very useful ability that once itís thrown at an enemy it deals constant damage, unless it is blocked. The other Aquila attack has a wide range that draws weaker enemies together in front of you, allowing them to be dispatched as a group.
Demon weapons, in contrast, are slow but deal immense damage. First up thereís the Arbiter, a massive axe that, while slow, deals huge damage when it lands. This is best used when enemies are stunned or otherwise engaged, because their attacks will beat you to the punch otherwise. The second demon weapon is the Eryx, which are powerful gauntlets. The Eryx arenít much help against groups of enemies, but against a single foe there isnít much better.
As with all prior games in the series youíre graded on your performance in battle. Stringing together long combos without being hit is the key to achieving a big score. Repeating the same attacks over and over will earn you fewer points, but if you switch it up often and use a variety of weapons and attacks youíll be rewarded with big point bonuses. At the end of the level your overall combat grade is added to a grade for the time taken and the number of unlockables found, to give you an overall grade for that level; the better your grade, the better you reward.
Defeated enemies drop three different kinds of orbs, green for health, red for currency, and white for upgrade points. With regards to upgrade points, every time you fill your upgrade meter you can unlock a new move for the weapon of your choice, or an ability, such as superior evades. Currency can be used to purchase items such as health, health upgrades or an extra life. Using items has a minor negative impact on your overall grade for that level, but dying is obviously worse.
To break up the action there are a number of platforming sections throughout the game. For the most part these sections have you targeting coloured hooks; Dante pulls himself to blue hooks, but pulls objects with red hooks toward him instead. These moves can also be used in combat, and are in fact a key part of moving yourself around during battles. They can also be used to rip shields out of enemy hands or create openings for attacks. The platforming sections are a decent diversion from combat, but there isnít anything here to set the pulse racing, or indeed, to have you eager for the next platforming section.
Adding to the replayability are the multiple difficulty settings. Initially there are three difficulties to choose from, of which only the hardest provides much of a challenge to experienced gamers. Once youíve completed the game once, a new difficulty is unlocked, and it provides a significant step up. Not only are enemies tougher, but there are also more of them, tougher enemies appear from the outset, and their attack patterns and speeds change. These changes are significant, and make playing through the game multiple times much more enticing.
Completing the game again on this tougher setting unlocks another, tougher difficulty. If you take the time to complete that one you start to unlock novelty modes where Dante and enemies die with just a single hit, and another where enemies have full health but Dante still dies with a single hit. Just who would attempt these modes is beyond me but I wish them all the best.
Another issue is that, outside of regular combat, boss battles and the platforming sections are disappointing. The boss battles, while providing the artistic and comedic high point of the games, are just a little mundane because most of them have clear tells, or flashing weak points to expose. The platforming sections just donít suit Dante perfectly, partly because the camera never aligns quite right, and partly because theyíre just uninspired. It would be inaccurate to call them poor, and in some ways they are a necessary evil, adding to the games length and providing a break from fighting. The problem is thereís nothing here you havenít done countless times before, and itís never that much fun. A lock-on function would have been useful too, if only to help keep the camera working for you, rather than forcing you to maneuver it yourself.
Visually the game is a sight to behold, especially from an artistic style perspective. Developer Ninja Theory stated that a significant part of the reason they opted for 30 frames per second rather than the traditional 60 frames, was so that they could provide a better overall visual experience. This is perhaps illustrated best by having environments that move and get destroyed as you walk through them. Weíre talking full-scale destruction here, as well as occasions where normal human buildings morph into something much more demonic as Dante enters Limbo. These sections look very cool, and definitely add to the immersion of the experience.
The sound is excellent too, with thumping techno tracks that suit the game perfectly, as well as quiet and reflective music when it is required. The sound effects are excellent, with demons sounding, well, very demon-y, and each of the weapons having very appropriate and nasty effects. The voice acting is of high-caliber throughout, and gives the story as much credibility as it deserves.
As far as series reboots go, DmC Devil May Cry is about as good as you can get. Longtime fans will point to Danteís new look and the reduced frame-rate and suggest the game is a failure because of them. They couldnít be further from the truth though. DmC's combat system is fast, fluid, and above all, thoroughly entertaining. With a story that holds your interest (at least the first time) and a fantastic artistic style, the new DmC is an excellent first up effort from Ninja Theory, and one I encourage you to pick up if you enjoy the genre.
Review By: Mike Allison