DmC: Devil May Cry review: smells like teen spirit

The first Devil May Cry was a landmark action game, pushing the genre in innovative new ways when it released in 2001. It birthed a new generation of devoted fans. Given the drastic new direction Ninja Theory is embarking with DmC: Devil May Cry, it's no surprise that fans have been skeptical of, and sometimes vocally opposed to, the reboot. While some concerns are justified, DmC not only retains the essence of the series, it does so with style. focalbox While Ninja Theory has taken the DmC universe in a new direction, their take on gameplay proves to be remarkably similar to the game's predecessors. Pulling off combos is still a breeze, thanks to intuitive controls and a large variety of weapons. I quickly found myself trying to mix up my combos between weapons, twin pistols, and aerial rave maneuvers. As before, the game rewards extra points for style and it's a fun exercise to try and find new ways to dispatch lesser demons. Each entry in the series offers its own gimmick; Dante's dichotomous angel and demon arsenal serves as Ninja Theory's twist. Many of the game's mid-tier enemies can only be affected by one type of weapon or another, adding a degree of depth to the game's combat. Some areas will up the difficulty slightly by tossing in demons with (conveniently color coded) mixed-up vulnerabilities, which demands a lot of on-the-fly switching. Veterans will hardly be fazed with this new wrinkle, however, since switching is a simple matter of tapping the D-Pad. Weapons, regardless of their angel or demon classification, serve many similar functions, like the ability to perform ground combos and launch enemies into the air. Differences are mostly subtle--an example being that demon weapons can pull enemies closer to Dante, while angel weapons will launch Dante towards his foes. Overall, it feels like a system that's friendly to newcomers, one that also retains many of the classic mechanics that will feel familiar to Devil May Cry veterans. While some of DmC's set pieces feel a bit uninspired, there are some genuinely creative areas to be found as the game progresses. One level saw me moving towards a demon disguised as a cable news pundit. The stage began with Dante moving upside-down and eventually finding the demon residing inside a CNN-style world of scrolling news graphics. The boss battle that ensued had some undeniably cool moments, including a sequence in which Dante fought off lesser enemies from the perspective of a live breaking newscast. Ninja Theory also pulls off some creative feats within Limbo itself, showing it as a living world that literally has it in for Dante. Throughout every level, Dante will get pulled into Limbo and the ground and walls will sprout messages like, "KILL DANTE!" I initially dismissed it as a gimmicky idea, but the longer I played, the more I started to appreciate this aspect of the game. The messages would gradually express greater frustration and Limbo started to come across as every bit the character that Dante and Mundus were. BOOM video 14496 DmC's gameplay does come up short in a few instances. Platforming can be difficult, as it becomes tough to judge distances thanks to Dante's odd-looking leaps. These platforming sequences appear more frequently as the game progresses, but the unlockable air dash proves to be a big help. A lack of a minimap is an annoying omission as well. After clearing an area of enemies and watching a cutscene, it's very easy to accidentally go back the way you came. The most significant annoyance, however, is the combat camera. DmC leaves behind the ability to lock onto enemies, opting instead to have the camera automatically focus on enemies. It proves to be a very flawed design choice, especially if you ever try to avoid combat while exploring an area. The combat camera will always follow the enemies on-screen, making running away impossible. This becomes extremely frustrating in an area that combines numerous enemies with platform jumping. There were times when I would try and jump to another platform, only to have the camera swing right back over to the enemy and send me plunging down a pit. And as many longtime fans have feared, the narrative and presentation leaves a lot to be desired. It feels less like Dante: Year One, and more like something that belongs on The CW. With main characters consisting of gothic teen idol types, a soundtrack overly reliant on dubstep, and genuinely laughable dialogue, DmC's presentation will most certainly turn off loyal followers of the franchise.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

While many will unjustly write off Ninja Theory's game due to a redesigned character design, they will be missing out on a fantastic action game, one that not only plays up Ninja Theory's strengths, but adds to the series' legacy. The refinements to the classic Devil May Cry formula make the hack-and-slash combat some of the best in the series, and an experience worth hunting down.
This DmC: Devil May Cry review was based on a retail version of the game for Xbox 360 provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 3, and will be available on PC on January 25.