Reboot. It’s almost a dirty word in the entertainment industry. For every successful Batman revision, there’s a hundred Spidermans littered on the side of the road. With games and movies barely a generation old, the frequency of the reboots are getting ever closer and closer to the original. If it doesn’t work the first time, try and try again apparently.
It’s a different proposition than a sequel. Re-writing the rules and revising the dynamics while maintaining a link to the original legacy is a tricky thing to do correctly. Paying homage to the game that created the franchise is key, but why do a reboot at all if the developer is merely content to replay the original?
That’s the dilemma Capcom faced when attempting to revitalize a franchise that had been somewhat on the wane recently. To get a completely different perspective on Dante and his dilemma, Capcom farmed the game out to Ninja Theory, British based developers of Enslaved and Heavenly Sword who bring a western attitude to what was traditionally a eastern-style game.
The risks were huge, but they’ve paid off, as Ninja Theory has brought Dante straight into the modern world, with break-neck pacing, beautiful art design and crazy, thumb-straining action. DMC is back.
DMC is instantly self-aware, right from the bell. Waking up with a hangover, the new-look Dante, is thrown straight into demon combat, with barely enough time to find his pants (and guns). Without too much preamble, Dante and the player are guided through the dual-worlds that he inhabits, with battles taking place in Limbo and in the normal world.
Damage in the Demon world translates over to destruction in the real world, and as Dante slowly unravels his past and his connection to it he will be branded a terrorist (amongst other things) as the damage begins to add up. But this is a direct result of the power that players will feel in Dante’s shoes, and the balletic awesomeness of his skills.
Chased all his life by demons, Dante is already a dab hand at hunting them. The action and combat in DMC has always been the key cog that the rest of the game revolves around, screw that up and the game itself is basically dead on arrival. Ninja Theory have kept the frantic pace while adding their own touch to the fast-paced ass-kicking.
Armed with Ebony and Ivory (his guns, not the Paul McCartney song, although that would be awesome), Dante soon adds more weapons to his arsenal including the Esoris (think God of War-style blades)and a Batman Arkham Asylum style grappling hook among others.
With these weapons the combination of devastation is almost mind-boggling. The most skilled players out there will be able to amass enormous combos and move seamlessly through battle like a demon-slaying tornado.
One of the new aspects of the combat that Ninja Theory has brought to DMC is the Demon and Angel triggers that can be used. Using a shoulder button, players can now charge attacks with Demon or Angel techniques. As one could guess, the demon assisted powers tend to be ultra powerful, while angelic ones add a wider area of damage to the potential combos.
These additions, combined with the super-solid weapon and jumping attacks, mean that every battle can become a dance of individual amazement; with the potential for Dante to dominate dozens of enemies without breaking a sweat.
The world of DMC is vibrant, hyper-stylized and garish all at the same time. A beautiful ugliness of 80’s neon and distorted environments make the ordinary into something ghoulishly extraordinary. Ninja Theory has made your progress through the twenty levels an exercise in amazement, every level and location is meticulously stunning. The combinations of colours make the game world pop akin to something like the Hong Kong streets of Sleeping Dogs, but with more demons.
Replaying the reboot is almost essential upon completion. In the first playthrough, gamers will see unreachable or unopenable doors that require cooper keys, or advanced skills to break through. Plus, in Devil May Cry fashion, all the levels are ranked, with the most skilled gamers able to rack up some sensational scores.
At times the ambition and skill of the game design is let down by some odd decisions, most majorly with the camera design. While the camera works of the majority of the game, some of the closer, corridor based action are tough on the player, with the correct angle being almost impossible to accomplish.
While this does distract from the experience at time, the overall effort of transforming Devil May Cry as a franchise is sensational. DMC pokes delicate fun at the games that have come before it, the old (somewhat tired) Devil May Cry games are still very lovingly referenced, but the overall tone isn’t of mockery, but of reverance. Ninja Theory have run the gauntlet and come out the other end beautifully. With Capcom they’ve crafted a great game for this generation, something that lays the foundation for something truly breathtaking next time around. [8.5]
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Ninja Theory
Classification: R13 – Violence, Horror Scenes and Offensive Language