etween Heaven and Hell sit the twin brothers Dante and Vergil – Nephilim, the offspring of an unlikely union between Demon and Angel. Only a Nephilim can fuse the powers of the two worlds in order to slay the Demon King – Mundus – who happens to be the guy who killed their mother, enslaved their father and controls the world through debt, surveillance and drugs in the form of a soft drink called Virility, farmed from a Succubus a-la Slurm style.
Perhaps the real story is about Dante himself and his development from a testosterone filled alcohol-fuelled kid with a God-complex into someone who actually has to struggle with finding out the truth about how his family fell apart and coming to trust and care about others – whilst the blood is flying, curses are abounding and the ladies are swooning of course. Baby steps and all. I really thought I was going to hate Dante; he comes off as quite frankly, a prick, but I really found myself liking him despite his rather extensive list of faults.
he first thing you’re going to notice if you’ve played any of the four previous Devil May Cry titles is that there is a lot of change here. This isn’t just a remake with better graphics; this really is a hefty overhaul. Dante physically is very different and although he himself remains a cocky, confident and occasionally careless slayer, his brother Vergil is now a level-headed leader of a “terrorist” organisation called The Order, working secretly to oust political demons, using surveillance, technology and a cute medium named Kat. If you’re obssessing over Dante’s hair colour – get the costume pack and you can enjoy gameplay with his trademark octogenarian white hair.
I read internet forums avidly across a wide variety of subjects, including plundering the somewhat murky depths of reddit and beyond. The console version has been out for 10 days at the point of the PC release and it’s inevitable that I’ve stumbled across, hmmm… let me count, one, two, three million… posts complaining about how this game does not compare in some way to the original series. This is not DmC 5. This is a reboot using the same concept and the same genre; with a different developing studio and if you freak out at the concept of change or sit in a pool of your own tears because something becomes more mainstream you may want to back away slowly.
inja Theory have already built up a good reputation with their previous titles, Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, for investing in characterisation and emotional attachment. It’s hard to get emotionally attached to the characters in an action hack n slash romp but the voice acting, lip syncing, animation and character acting in the cut scenes really make a difference. There are remarkabley human moments marked by tiny details such as a smile beginning to falter or an almost undetectable shrug. That being said; the storyline itself is predictable and all too brief with a number of plot holes and it doesn’t really do the quality visual work justice. The jokes and one line quips made me groan a bit, but in all honesty, I still found them highly entertaining and although I wasn’t laughing out loud, it definitely elicited smirks from me alongside the occasional facepalm, especially during boss fights.
Everything is highly sexualised and highly violent, full of swearing and anger with the game constantly telling you that you’re doing amazing with a slightly addictive combo point system. It’s designed from top to bottom to be a teenage wet dream. Okay, okay, I confess – mine too. If this is turning you off, you may not enjoy it as much as I did. After the first few hours this tones down and the plot and characterisation does beef out quite a bit in the middle but unfortunately peters out a bit towards the end again, ultimately feeling a little anti-climatic.
ou unlock new weapons throughout the game, ending it with an impressive array of eight, easily switched between. Each one has a dozen or more unlockable upgrades including a variety of different combo moves. This game does not require technical memorisation and careful execution of buttons in the correct sequence. In all honesty, most of the time I keyboard mashed and it all worked out okay.
There are some tactics; such as monsters that are immune to certain types of weapons; that need to be hit in the air or on the ground; that need to be pulled or hit in a specific place, plus a whole variety of different boss tactics, but overall the gameplay is deceptively simple.
Whilst the majority of fight encounters are short and sweet, the boss encounters felt like they dragged on a fair bit – they had multiple phases of rinse and repeat that turned a 3 minute fight into a 10 or even 15 minute one without adding any new elements, raid boss style. Visually the bosses were imaginative and interesting but gameplay wise they felt a bit flat and certainly no challenge. There is also a lack of any auto lock-on or target system. When firing your guns this can make it very awkward to prioritise a target which can get annoying.
This game made me feel good – because the fighting looks complicated and confusing but is in fact smooth, streamlined and simple. Instead of flailing about like an octopus out of water I made out to my friends that I knew what I was doing – and they believed me, suckers! If you want confirmation of how you’re doing at the end of each mission you get a leaderboard, featuring your friends scores and a regional scoreboard (mine seemed to show the entire EU, but no North American scores). My position in the leaderboards made me feel less impressive, but no one needs to know about that. I do wonder if those who are gaming wizards will find it a bit too casual and become annoyed that people can get higher scores than them with far fewer mad-gaming-skillz.
he first playthrough took me around 10 hours to complete the story on easy mode. What can I say, I’m a wuss. Completing the story on any of the original three modes available unlocks the next of five difficulty levels including the ultimate “hardcore” one-hit-game-over mode that would give me nightmares. Hopefully those who seek a challenge will appreciate these – but in reality completing the game over and over again to unlock each mode may become tedious. I do see myself completing it at least once again in order to try and get 100% completion and find all the secret rooms though.
Let’s geek out a bit and talk performance. The PC version is rock solid – it is visually spectacular and runs like a dream on the Unreal 3 Engine. During gameplay I get a solid 120FPS boosting up to 200FPS during cut scenes – far more than I need. Fully rebindable key bindings, hd textures, vsync, anti-aliasing and shadows – all the shiny things that you want to actually make your graphics card work a little. Keyboard controls are excellent although there’s no precision needed; so you’re fine running a controller if you want to sit back and relax. My only complaint is that the camera angle could occasionally be a little glitchy.
So what’s my final verdict? This game is fun and entertaining, it looks good, performs well above par and provides some replayability. It’s exactly what I want in a hack n slash action romp. It lacks a certain depth though. Despite the rather serious concept behind the storyline, it feels like a light offering designed to entertain and amuse the casual gamer. Just try it with an open mind and no expectations – it has well exceeded mine, but stays a few steps below becoming heavenly. See what I did there?