Review: DmC (Devil May Cry)

The Devil May Cry series has been around a while, since 2001.

Initially meant to be another Resident Evil video game, the original game design was too much of a radical departure from that series, so it was spun off.

The games featured Dante, a weapon-wielding demon/angel slaughtering demons by the score.

After four successful games in the past 12 years, the series is rebooted in a big way with DmC.

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Playing out in a contemporary setting, the game features a makeover for chief protagonist Dante, a demon/angel hybrid (called a nephilim in the game). He is sporting a younger look – from the short, almost military haircut and contemporary clothing to the modern quips when he dispatches enemies. In previous games, he sported long silver hair and had a more Japanese sensibility.

While the game is a re-imagining of the series, the game’s heartbeat pounds with the same beat. Dante must slay many, many demons in as many ways as possible using as many weapons as possible.

Not only must he kill them, he must do it with style, as style points and a better score mean better weapons and moves. More moves means more opportunity to “chain” together a sequence of attacks. And Dante is all about the attack, since he has virtually no defensive abilities. He can only attack and dodge, making the assault action almost non-stop.

Players are judged in each level on their cumulative style points, combined with the speed in completion and how many secrets found and how many items used to survive.

Dante’s basic arsenal consists of the Rebellion, a sword given to him by his father; and Ebony and Ivory, a pair of handguns that don’t pack a lot of punch, but are handy for delaying enemies and maintaining a chain streak.

Through the course of the game, several new weapons become available, including:

– The Arbiter, a demon axe effective against shields;

– Osiris, a scythe that can attack many enemies at once;

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– Eryx, powerful gauntlets (giant fists) that can launch any foe;

– Aquila, two tribladed throwing stars;

– Revenant, a powerful, but slow shotgun;

– Kablooey, a gun that fires exploding darts.

A quick select system allows Dante to choose between weapons on the fly, with differing abilities while in either angel or demon mode. Eventually, Dante will gain the ability to activate Devil Trigger mode, which launches all nearby demons into the air and slowly refills Dante’s health bar.

Earning points allows for the purchase of weapon upgrades, new skill moves and items.

The storyline involves the Earth being ruled by a demon (Mundus) who keeps humans docile through a demon-infused soft drink. Dante and his twin brother Vergil – who Dante wasn’t aware existed – and a human witch named Kat battle demons, with Dante transporting to Limbo, where Kat acts as a guide, since she can travel between both worlds.

Limbo is a living, breathing organism with the intent to kill Dante. The level design is imaginative and is imbued with a pervasive sense of dread and destruction.

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Dante decides to kill Mundus after Vergil reveals that Mundus is the one who killed their mother (an angel) and imprisoned their father (a demon).

In hack and slash games such as this, I tend to develop a fondness for a couple of weapons employing an easily repeated number of moves. I find it easier to focus when not trying to use every weapon and move at your disposal.

But DmC forces you out of that mindset, coercing you into using all weapons at differing points to accomplish your goals. There are specific demon types that can only be killed by certain weapons and attack styles, so you’ve got to be constantly ready to switch tactics. Often, there are enemies together who can only be hurt with angel and demon attacks, making the switchoff more intense.

The game also brings into play plenty of big boss battles, culminating with the biggest of them all. The bosses are creative and challenging and provide quite a test of reasoning and planning.

DmC reboots the Devil May Cry series in a big way. The game is lustrous and robust and gets 2013 off to a rollicking start.

Platform: PlayStation3, Xbox 360

Manufacturer: Capcom

Rating: Mature

Score: 9.25 stylish chilies

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Review Statement: An Xbox 360 retail copy of this game was provided by Capcom for the purpose of this review.

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