If you’ve never played a Devil May Cry game, this is the place to start. DMC is the fifth in the series, and the second iteration to hit this gaming generation. Yet, what you’ll experience with this latest instalment is something altogether new.
Thanks to a more accessible approach in character and gameplay development, newcomers will feel at home with the intricate battle system, a fast-paced frenzy of sword, gun and supernatural weapon combos. Players familiar with the series will appreciate the great care that has gone into the return of our favourite characters: Dante and Virgil, nephilim brothers born of the love between a god’s son and a human’s daughter, once again joining hands in the epic battle to rid our world and the sub-reality realm, Limbo, of demons. Layered amongst the ancient feud is a battle of a more personal tone for Dante: to avenge a mother, a life, that was stolen.
Franchise aficionados will love this new take on Dante. He’s still as cocky as ever – more so even – but his talents (which become your talents, depending on the finesse with which you execute your attacks) are undeniable. Yet like any great anti-hero, underlying the exterior is a Hellboy-like vulnerability. Dante’s journey is much more internal, a boy discovering the roots of a family line once lost to memory. It is a story that is exquisite in its tone and visual execution.
What you have here is a beautifully cinematic experience, charismatic in its confident character development, simmering with rich story undertones that stay true to the underlying lore of the series, and delving into new directions with a brilliant Japanese-American synergy of alternate realities and an onslaught of action.
The art direction is far beyond the clean-cut style of its predecessor. Each level, each item, each cut scene is a work of art. Combine this with the mythos infused into the game and you have an interactive, cinematic, artful experience that reveals why video games can cost more to make, take longer to make, and take-in more revenue than most movies.
From settings to skies, from costumes to characters, visually you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more finely-tuned game on console. The few lows, such as minor glitches, camera control issues and enemies that are at times mediocre in their design, are stunted compared to the brilliant highs. Motion capture not only creates fluid action, but on a more impressive level, is used to bring the subtlety of acting together. The nuances of movement during cut scenes sets a new standard and adds a depth to the characters that draws you into the narrative.
In respect to the core gameplay, little has changed. DMC can easily descend into a button-masher’s paradise. But the thrill of the game comes to those seeking a little more panache from today’s action games. DMC’s skill tree has been streamlined somewhat which, combined with the ability to practice attacks in training, makes it more accessible to a broader range of gamers. Still, it’s a steep learning curve for those new to the franchise who wish to master all the intricacies of the style-ranking system. Especially when it comes to higher difficulties, this is one game where the entire controller will get a good workout. But it’s worth it.
Those looking for achievements/trophies have their work cut out for them. Devil May Cry 4 had some of the toughest achievements to unlock and DMC follows this proud tradition. Though the achievements in DMC are more balanced, getting the full 1,000 gamerscore means long hours, lots of dying, a daunting mastery of the combo system, and serious bragging rights should you pull it off.
With its pristine presentation, and true-to-series character and style, DMC sets an incredible precedent for 2013. If this is what we can expect as this generation of gaming comes to a close, we are certainly going out with a bang.
When he’s not teaching high school, St. Albert Catholic High School alumnus Derek Mitchell can be found attached to a video game console.
Devil May Cry
????1/2 Consoles: Xbox 360, PS3
Rating: M (language, violence)
+ Genre-defining graphics, story and gameplay
+ More accessible to newcomers
- Seemingly insurmountable upper difficulties