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DmC: Devil May Cry Review (X360)

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DmC: Devil May Cry Review (X360)
Capcom
Ninja Theory's (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Heavenly Sword) reboot of Capcom's Devil May Cry series was met with cynicism and downright vitriol from longtime series fans from the moment it was first revealed. It looked too different. Dante was a punk instead of a cool badass. Ninja Theory couldn't possibly pull of the gameplay necessary to do DMC justice. The list of fans' concerns, despite never actually playing it, went on and on.

Of course, now that we've actually had the chance to play the thing, we can say the result is surprisingly solid. DmC still plays pretty much like the Devil May Cry you know and love, just with some neat tweaks, and with a different attitude and new story that makes it feel fresh. DmC is Ninja Theory's best playing game yet, and a solid action game overall that fans of the genre will have a great time with.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Ninja Theory
  • ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Fun gameplay; interesting combo system; decent presentation; solid way to reboot the series
  • Cons: Initial difficulty levels too easy; so-so platforming; no lock-on; boss fights

DmC takes place in a parallel universe to the old Devil May Cry games, which is a convenient way to feature the same characters just in a new story, which is exactly what is going on here. The story in DmC is that Dante is a half-demon, half-angel being known as a Nephilim (while the original Devil May Cry Dante was half-human, half-demon). At first, Dante is unaware of his lineage, but he is suddenly attacked by a demon horde and soon learns of his past by reuniting with his twin brother Vergil, and together they fight against the demon god Mundus that killed their parents.

The story as a whole is passable. Dante is a punk at first, but definitely becomes more likeable as it all plays out. The game sets a different tone right from the beginning, so anyone holding out hope that this is somehow going to transform into the old DMC aren't going to get their wish. I consider that a good thing.

Gameplay

Capcom
The gameplay, on the other hand, still feels very much like the Devil May Cry of old. Dante still has his sword, Rebellion, and pistols, Ebony and Ivory, and you use them in various combinations to attack enemies. You quickly pick up two new weapons - one demonic and one angelic - that you work into combos by simply holding the right trigger for one, or the left trigger for the other, and you'll need these different weapons to take out the multitude of different enemies who all have different weaknesses. You also gain the ability to either pull objects and enemies towards Dante, or pull Dante towards objects and enemies. Working all of these abilities, and more, into your combos is one of the most satisfying things about DmC. The controls are easy to learn, and swapping weapons on the fly, grappling enemies mid-combo, shooting, slicing, grappling again, dodging attacks, and more all flow together incredibly smoothly. It is a combo system that is surprisingly open ended, so you can sort of customize your combos purely based on your preferred playing style. Combat is a total blast.

It has to be said, though, that fights can sometimes be annoying with multiple enemy types since there isn't any sort of lock-on function so you can actually attack the specific enemy you want. Most of the time this isn't that bad - and the game actually tones down the aggressiveness of offscreen enemies so you don't get hit in the back too much - but against large mobs that include pesky and obnoxious flying enemies, trying to target those fliers to take them out first (basically target prioritization rule #1 for action games - take flying enemies out first), is a challenge. With that said, however, the combo system is so crazy and robust you'll probably be slicing through them shortly anyway, but it would have been nice to have more precise control in those situations.

Outside of combat, you'll spend a bit of time platforming, which is a hit or miss. Much of the game takes place in limbo with the demons controlling the world to try to kill you, which means the level will literally tear itself apart and rearrange itself while you're playing. The platforming uses your twin grapple abilities to either pull platforms to you, or to pull Dante to platforms (including some Spider-Man-esque swinging from grapple point to grapple point), along with other moves like a mid-air dash. The platforming is interesting because you'll have to switch between grapple abilities in mid-air and use other moves at your disposal, which is neat. It can be frustrating, though, as sometimes things just don't work like you want them to. I died far more often (lots) from falling during platforming sequences than I did during combat (never). I found that you have to be really precise with your button presses, especially using the grapples. If you don't fully release, and then fully depress the trigger buttons, the grapple beams just don't work half the time.

That brings us to another point - the combat is crazy easy here. The game starts off with three difficulty levels, with more that you can unlock for subsequent playthroughs, but those initial difficulty levels are disappointingly easy. I'm no action game expert (I generally clumsily fumble my way through Devil May Cry or Bayonetta more than doing anything particularly advanced or stylish ... Lollipop Chainsaw is more my speed in this genre) but I was easily earning "S" ranks or better on pretty much every mission. The game does get more challenging on higher difficulties, but making players start out in full on babby mode is kind of insulting. Higher difficulties will make veteran players a lot happier, but you have to unlock them.

Boss fights are another issue - they just aren't fun. Bosses certainly look impressive enough, but they follow a totally oldschool gameplay philosophy where they execute repetitive patterns of attack and vulnerability, and you just have to learn the pattern and apply force when necessary. Compared to the rest of the combat where you're free flowing beautiful combos at will, the boss fights are pretty bland.

As a full package, though, DmC is pretty darn fun. It puts all of the gameplay elements in a far more cohesive package than Ninja Theory's past games, and is bar far the studio's best work from a gameplay perspective. The combo system and combat in general really does make up for the platforming woes, and you'll gladly trudge through the jumpy bits just to get to the next enemy encounter.

Capcom
Graphics & Sound

DmC is a nice looking game overall with solid character models and fantastic looking levels. The way the levels transform and tear apart as you're running through them is particularly impressive looking. The game is an Unreal Engine 3 title, so it has the trademark texture pop in and other performance quirks, but it is nice overall. The framerate is locked at 30 FPS (but "feels like 60" says Capcom PR) is fine and I don't have any complaints. Though, as long as a game is consistent I don't tend to notice either way.

The sound is also well done. Voice acting is solid all around, and the sound effects and enemy sounds are pretty great sounding. The music is also a bright spot with an interesting mix of electronic tracks and guitar riffs that works with this new version of Dante.

Bottom Line

In the end, the new DmC: Devil May Cry is a solid reboot that action game fans should have a good time with (once they open up more difficulty levels). It looks good. Sounds great. Has lots of content to offer (the first playthrough will take about 10 hours and you definitely will still have lots of hidden stuff to find). And it plays absolutely fantastically. DmC: Devil May Cry is a brave new entry in the long running series that we highly recommend.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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