Better Than the Devil You Knew
HIGH The Barbas battle is a true showstopper.
LOW Vergil is… kind of a dick.
WTF The awkward button combos required for Devil/Angel dodges.
As someone who's never been a great fan of Devil May Cry or Ninja Theory, I was somewhat surprised to find that combining the two resulted in an outstanding effort. DmC is a fantastic experience, and proves true the phrase "greater than the sum of its parts."
To start with, everything that Darren said in his main review was spot-on, and I agree with nearly all he says. However, I'd like to elaborate on a few aspects that he didn't have the wordcount to get into. Take, for example, the sheer artistry in rendering DmC's visuals.
I'm not someone who puts a premium on graphics, but every minute of the adventure was brought to life with amazing skill and strong concepts. By taking the dimensional overlap of the game's worlds and consistently implementing it from start to finish, there's no end to the interesting situations Dante finds himself in—the upside-down city hidden in the reflection of a lake, or the warehouse turned into a vertical explosion of floating boxes were particular standouts.
Ninja Theory nails the smaller details, as well. Text flashes across objects, clever visual effects highlight the differences between the dimensions, cut-scenes come off as sharp multimedia presentations, and things "haphazardly" scrawled on walls or littering rooms can reveal a surprising amount of intention. DmC is a title that never forgets how important the "video" is in a video game, and it pushes that angle to maximum advantage.
The combat design shows just as much thoughtfulness as the graphics. The default of Angel attacks on one side of the controller and Devil attacks on the other is a great system, and the game's progression is nearly perfect—by the time I was able to smoothly work a newly-gained weapon into my combos, a new one would be added, and I never felt overwhelmed or confused by the available options. I did think that some of the weapons shared attacks which felt a little too similar (probably a nod to keeping things less confusing, I would imagine) and I was not able to re-assign buttons to comfortably pull off an enhanced dodge, but these are small quibbles with a system that displays overall mastery of its genre.
If there's one area where Darren and I diverge (slight as it may be) I'd like to give a little extra praise to the story and characters. While it's true that action is always the focus in a title like DmC, its narrative and direction are above and beyond what most people would have happily accepted—Dante may not be entirely likable, but he's quite easy to understand and his character makes a lot of sense. Further, I wouldn't say DmC is an entirely serious game, but there are certainly some emotional beats and the inclusion of socio-political commentary was quite welcome. Ninja Theory also did a great job in terms of rebooting the series overall. They left everything that made Devil May Cry what it was, but reframed and refocused it a very different light. For me, this was a positive shift.
While DmC may not reinvent the genre, it's a fantastic fresh start for a series which needed one, and it's the kind of "total package" that we rarely see these days—graphics, control, game design, characterization, narrative… every aspect has received a commendable level of work, and the experience overall is one that's deserving of accolades equal to the amount of negativity thrown its way by players who resisted change before they ever had a chance to try it.
Well done, Ninja Theory. Well done.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 11 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.