QuickView – DmC: Devil May Cry

Me and the Devil May Cry series never really got along. While I enjoyed the combat, the stage design irritated me massively! Combat and the rest of the stage were completely separate and the lack of music in the stage drove me crazy! Not to mention the stages themselves were little more than mazes full of puzzles!

Shoot, when you look at it like that it seems more like an action RPG than an actual action game! In which case, nearly any good Tales Of game completely destroys it! It’s a…weird way to think about things.

As such I really only enjoyed the original Devil May Cry series for about…well the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3. Having said that, I did really like Bayonetta as it almost completely scrapped the stages and focused more on the combat, resulting in something closer to a beat ’em up.

Having said that, I did like Dante.

So, when the alternate universe reboot from Ninja Theory caused such a fan outcry yet received incredibly smug rave reviews? Well I had to take a look. My reaction was…mixed.

First of all, lets clear up the confusion about the fan outcry. A lot of people seem to think this is a lot of fuss just about hair color. It’s not. Dante in this game is very much a different character that to many fans of the original could come off as far less tolerable or outright loathsome.

This is not because Dante was a deep or complex character though. Not even remotely! It was because Dante was a fun character! Lets just be blunt here: Dante was a Ninja Turtle. There’s no other way to put it, he’s a damn Ninja Turtle. Always cool headed, cracking stupid jokes, and excessively over-skilled. He’s completely and utterly unrealistic, but he was exactly the kind of character we as nerds used to idolize as kids except a little more mature.

The new Dante, however, comes off as sleazy. The main menu is him getting a psuedo-blowjob from a bunch of angels (they’re just sucking his fingers while he makes a gun with them, but the image is clear) and the game opens with him at a strip club and banging two of the girls there. From there he adopts this “I don’t care about anyone” attitude.

The result is changing Dante from the kind of guy nerds used to idolize as kids to the kind of guy who used to beat nerds up for their lunch money as kids. It’s awkward to say the least.

In many ways this change, and the general reaction to it and people who were not fond of it represents something sinister happening to the industry and perhaps we were picking up on that subconciously. In many ways the new Dante is taking something nerds used to love and re-purposing it for the “general audience”. This is “dudebro”-friendly Dante and people who don’t like him have every right to be annoyed with the change.

 

Then again, this whole game’s attitude rubs me the wrong way.

 

Ninja Theory openly stated that they don’t like Devil May Cry, that they thought Dante was a stupid character, and that the games were lame. On one hand, having them handle the games could provide a fresh perspective. What would people who don’t like the series change to make it better? On the other hand, Ninja Theory could just be a bunch of elitist assholes.

Guess what? They’re a bunch of elitist assholes.

Now if you’ve seen my Transformers: Cybertron Adventures review, you know I am very sympathetic when it comes to game companies. I know how hard it is to make games, I’ve tried many times in the past. This is not an easy feat and I often feel that reviewers are assholes for not recognizing this. Look at the beautiful vistas and creative art design of Blades of Time, for example! Oh sure I’m hard of Dimps for their awful stiff fighting game controls, but I still give them credit when it comes to their fantastic graphical work and awesome Sonic games. Generally speaking I respect the companies that make these products.

However, I want to fly to Ninja Theory’s headquarters and slap every one of them upside the head. I don’t think I have ever had less respect for a company than I do for Ninja Theory. I have played every single one of their games and every single one of them rubbed me the wrong way, but this one takes the cake!

You see, the game opens by explaining that the current national debt crisis? Yeah that’s the fault of demons blackmailing the President. Meanwhile Dante is the only person who can see the world for what it truly is, able to see past the lies of society, man! That’s why he’s so cool, see! So he teams up with Anonymous to defeat Fox News and the Giant Bill O’Reily head.

I wish I was making that up.

Yes, if ever a game was too topical, DmC would be it. I mean really? REALLY?! This is your “better” take on Devil May Cry? This is the more mature look at the series? This is the more realistic one?! I’m sorry but this just comes off as elitist hipster bullshit. Like someone is trying too hard to be “mature” and “topical”. This is some head-in-ass arthaus bullcrap!

And I really can’t get over that main menu. Was it really necessary to have us watch Dante get a blowjob every time we start the game up? Does that really add anything to the game? Did I mention the damn blowjob is animated?! How about the fact that the characters giving Dante said blowjob aren’t even actual characters! This is seriously just here to be offensive! It’s not funny, it doesn’t have a point, it’s just…”Hey how about we have Dante getting a blowjob on the main menu! That would be badass!”

It’s a level of immaturity that even Duke Nukem would balk at!

Lets not mince words here, I gave DOA5 a positive score, I put 200 hours into Rumble Roses XX, and I am currently playing Hyperdimension Neptunia V. I am hardly opposed to fanservice or sexy women and I most certainly am against censorship. However this damn title screen really bothers me! It makes me ask the question: WHY? Why is this here? What purpose does it serve?

Then again, as you play through the first stage there is a scene where a giant demon destroys a rack full of wigs. One of the wigs, which looks like Dante’s old hairstyle, falls on his head. He looks in a mirror and says “Not in a million years!”.

On one hand it’s kind of funny to see a game make fun of the fans like that. On the other hand, it really gives you an idea of the game’s attitude. It is, again, trying to piss off the fans. It is trying to annoy people. It wants you to be offended.

Well I am. The sheer smugness of this game is reprehensible and utterly ruined my enjoyment of it.

…which is a shame because the game is not bad!

Yeah, sorry to spend so much time rambling about why the game rubbed me the wrong way so hard but I had to say my piece. With so many reviewers claiming those who don’t like the game are just whiners, I really felt like I had to go into detail explaining what it was that annoyed me so hard that I literally could not enjoy the game!

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First of all, the game looks great! Infact this is the first time Ninja Theory’s character models didn’t have me screaming into the sky, probably because of the lack of Asian characters. Oh I don’t like Dante and Vergil’s designs at all, but they don’t look as awful as some of Ninja Theory’s previous designs (though the modelling was incredibly detailed on their old stuff too).

The environments, however, are the real show stealers! They take normal everyday places and twist them into the strange limbo world that  Dante must navigate. Words fly everywhere, giving subliminal messages while pieces of the area fly around creating some of the most visually logical platforming environments ever!

Thankfully, there actually is some platforming too! Yes, the stages are more linear and much better designed with platforming elements and a slightly more clear indication of where you need to go.

The world is less irritatingly silent as well and the music is more plentiful and varied. Indeed, many of my own personal complaints with the series were addressed!

The combat seems a little watered down compared to previous games but only a little. There is still plenty of move variety and a wide array of combo-licious options available to the player.

But, there were still issues.

First of all, while the presence of platforming was appreciated, the actual jumping is kinda awful. Dante jumps like Vega in this game: straight up at mach speed, and then falls like a rock. This is very awkward to try and platform with. As you progress you get a glide ability and grappling hooks which make the platforming much more plausible, but the base jumping still feels weird.

The combat and the stage still feel separate from one another in the stages I played and the areas between combat sections still felt too long. I really wanted Dante to just get there faster.

Meanwhile the combat was rarely enjoyable. You usually had to deal with flying enemies who annoyed you with projectiles while you were trying to face a melee enemy on the ground. I know that’s a perfectly reasonable challenge, but it really got annoying. It felt like every enemy had a stupid gimmick to beating them. I know later on enemies glow red and blue and can only be damaged with specific weapons. That just…sounds irritating.

Speaking of arbitrary glowing, that also applies to platforming. You have a grappling hook and certain hooks glow blue while others glow red and that tells you what kind of hook move you can use. One pulls you towards the object, the other pulls the object towards you. What’s that? Would either work just as effectively in a certain situation? Well too bad because you’re only allowed to do one or the other, which gets irritating when the game decided to have you rapidly switch between red and blue hooks in mid-air.

Then you have The Tutorial Zone. Every time you get a new ability you are taken to this one neat looking parallel dimension stage. It looks neat the first time you go there, but it quickly gets irritating as the stage is way too long and is an obvious tutorial. It doesn’t feel like you’re making progress, just being told in excessively explicit detail what to do.

The result is a game that irritated me and when I was dragged into The Tutorial Zone again at the start of the 4th stage, I put the controller down and quit. I had lost all desire to play the game. It was just annoying. Not hard, not challenging, just irritating.

Yet despite this fact I’d ballpark the game at:

3.5~4 out of 5

Yes, despite all my bitching DmC really isn’t bad. In fact, I would call it Ninja Theory’s best game! The controls are responsive, the combat is deep, the stages are inspired, it’s a really neat game! Hardly mindblowing, but if we were being objective it’s decent at worst and good at best.

In fact, personally, I like it more than every other Devil May Cry game with the exception of the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3 (and Bayonetta if you count that).

It’s just all those little irritants that bothered me. From the smug game direction to the annoying design elements, this was one of the least enjoyable games I have ever played. Again that doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it…irritating. The game literally repels me.

Of course what really drive that point home is the smugness of the reviewers. I’m sorry but nearly every review felt like it bumped up the score just to spite the fans who complained so that the reviewer could say “I’m better than you because I didn’t whine about DmC!”.

I don’t normally name names but perhaps the best example of that would be Benette the Sage’s video review, where he mentions how cleverly the game uses colors by having a glowing red stage where you can’t see which enemies are glowing red. In any other game, Benette would have complained about that and said it was awful and irritating stage design. But here, it’s praised because liking DmC makes you better than everyone else apparently.

If ever a game’s smugness could reach critical mass, DmC is it. Not a bad game at all, but not one I ever want to touch again.

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