DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (Xbox One) Review

DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (Xbox One) Review

That Other Dante Is Back

When Capcom took the Devil May Cry reigns away from their internal studios and handed them over to western developer Ninja Theory, there was a lot of fan outcry. In many ways, that outcry was deserved. The essence of the franchise, hero Dante, was given a radical, emo facelift, but more importantly, the game went “mainstream,” dumbing itself down in the name of “accessibility” and chasing after the lowest common denominator rather than the fans that supported the series. Now it’s back in HD+ fashion—like so many other franchises—but the changes to this new version will surprise the hardcore.

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Another Month, Another HD Remaster

Dante is a jaded, cynical young man in a jaded, cynical world that just happens to be secretly under the control of minions from Hell. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Dante also happens to be a half-breed with demon blood and is quite good at monster-slaying; he just needs some motivation to get him out of his emo-centric apathy. When his long lost brother and a cute teen-witch sidekick show up, the ball gets rolling and Dante goes on a sword swinging, bullet ridden rampage for freedom. That’s the basic story of DmC, and it hasn’t changed here.

Unlike many of the remasters coming out this generation, DmC actually manages to hit the fabled 1080p, 60 frame per second mark, which is both impressive and necessary since this is a fast paced action game. The textures don’t really benefit from this in the same way that The Last of Us did, since the game was never in the same league graphically, but the frame rate performance is both consistent and impressive. People concerned with how slick and responsive the game feels will have no complaints with the smoothness of DmC.

Where the big surprise comes in for DmC is the amount of work that’s gone into enhancing the game itself. The base game is still the same as it was before; just shinier with a smoother framerate. People that are hoping the main game is somehow tweaked to feel more like the old DMC games are still in for a disappointment. But now there are a lot of extra modes and gameplay tweaks thrown in and around the main game that round it out and make it feel like a more traditional, “hardcore” DMC experience. Of course, the game comes with past DLC, like Vergil’s Downfall, but there’s a lot of new stuff too.
dmcdefinitiveedinsert1“Vergil’s Bloody Palace” is a new take on the old Dante’s Bloody Palace mode, there are new “Hardcore,” “Must Style” and even “God Must Die” modes included in the game, and for the real traditionalists, there’s been a bit of rebalancing to the enemies and the inclusion of a manual target lock function, just like the old DMC games. In short, most of the extras from old DMC games are now available in this new one. It’s quite a sizable change to the game, and it might satisfy the traditional fans who didn’t think there was much to do once the game was finished. However, the base game still remains largely what it was, so if you weren’t a fan of that, you won’t be a fan of this. If old school DMC is more your style, you’re probably better off waiting for the Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition that’s ALSO getting the remaster treatment this summer. Whatever your feelings are of the original DmC, credit has to be given for the sizable chunk of new additions made to this remaster. It’s far from an easy cut n’ paste job to a higher resolution.

 

DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3) Review

DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3) Review

This Ain’t Your Grandfather’s Dante

Capcom took a pretty bold chance when they handed off one of their beloved franchises to British developers Ninja Theory. The Devil May Cry series was one of the most uniquely Japanese and hyper kinetic 3

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person action games of the previous generation. With the transfer of the property to Ninja Theory, there was a lot of controversy, and even death threats directed at studio head Tameem Antoniades, for the suite of dramatic changes they were taking towards the franchise. Of course, all of this was done with Capcom’s blessing in an attempt to reboot a hardcore action franchise for a new generation not-so-hardcore players. The end result is something interesting and enjoyable, but not the tightest, fastest action game around. Platinum—and Bayonetta in particular—have nothing to worry about.

A DMC Firmly In The Spirit Of The Teens

Alex Garland—most recently of Dredd fame—has crafted a story for the character of Dante that puts him firmly in the zeitgeist. A demon that rules the world through massive national debt, news outlets under the control of a demonic Bill O’Reilly, and Anonymous taking to the airwaves to stand against the demonic 1 per cent. It’s like Garland and Ninja Theory took every single timely subject and stuck them in this plot to make sure it was “hip enough” for the kids. Dante is a surly, emo punk who spends most of his time fighting demons and having a lot of casual sex. Then he meets up with his long lost brother Vergil and finds out their parents were killed by a demon named Mundus, who currently controls the world through a mixture of finance, politics and media control. With a new, sudden burning desire for revenge, Dante sets himself up to take Mundus down.

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Aside from the fact that DmC will immediately date itself in a few years, it’s clear that the story is the real star of the show here. This is not the comedic, cocky Dante of the original Japanese series that found himself in situations as ludicrous as they were dangerous. This is a deeply troubled Dante, with a dark personality and some real weight to him. Perhaps the best way to view this new reboot is as an “Elseworlds” or Marvel “What If” story. Purists are going to hate this new take with livid rage, it bears little to no resemblance to the Dante older players remember. On the other hand, for people that want a bit more depth to their characters, this Dante and the journey he undertakes, has more substance and complexity to it. Dante and Vergil are more fleshed out here in ways they never were in previous series. In that sense, Capcom has succeeded in trusting this property to Ninja Theory because this really is a Dante that’s more relevant to a younger, more demanding audience.

Moving over to the visuals, we are presented with another Unreal engine game, but Ninja Theory has worked the engine over considerably. Rarely does Unreal’s characteristic texture load-in rear its ugly head, and the frame rate stays stable through gameplay, though it noticeably stutters during some of the more resource intensive real time cut scenes. The art direction is quite distinct, with a bold array of colours and some monster designs that feel like call backs to the old DMC’s piecemeal/clockwork assembled enemies. It’s definitely a good looking game, with decent performance stability.

On the audio side, Ninja Theory has added Noisia and Beatport Band to the soundtrack, so if you’ve got a subwoofer attached to your TV, you’re definitely going to be feeling a lot of bass. The acting and delivery of dialogue is definitely a step up from the usual DMC fare, although even the new Dante can’t resist the occasional awful, 80s action hero one liner after disposing of some enemies. The game sounds good, and even though it doesn’t necessarily have the same kind of audio immersion as an FPS, the music and weighty sound of the combat all contribute a polished audio experience.

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The Call Of Duty Of DMC Games

In a nutshell, if you’re new to the DMC franchise, you will probably love this game. If you’re a veteran of the series, you will find this dumbed down.

This is still a third person action game that relies on combos and rates your fights based on the variety of styles you employ. But both the combat engine itself has been slowed down to make executing combos easier, and the rating system has been made much more forgiving. Getting an “S Rank” for combat rounds is surprisingly easy, and the generous checkpoint system makes the use of the traditional DMC “Gold Idol” redundant, since continuing usually places you not far back from where you died.

For fans of the original series, a lot of nods to the combat are there. The sword is still called Rebellion, the pistols are still called Ebony & Ivory, and even combos like Stinger still have the same name as before. What’s changed dramatically is the timing of the combos. DmC is about spectacular looking combat and as a result, they’ve become more generous with the input timing, and even slowed down the animation somewhat so you can really appreciate how bad ass these moves look.

Obviously, for purists, this is horrifying. But for people new to the franchise, particularly those used to the power fantasies of Western titles like Call of Duty, the game is quite compelling. The COD mentality has its appeal because it’s empowering; players feel cool and untouchable when they play COD because the game wants you to feel like a killing machine. The original DMC only did that at the highest levels of player skill, a tradition carried on this generation by Bayonetta which is still one of the best action games of this generation even if it doesn’t come anywhere near as close as the new DMC to providing a bad ass power fantasy. This is a Westernized version of a Japanese game for everyone who says that Japanese games are too hard and therefore no fun.

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There is also more of a traversal aspect to the game that wasn’t as prominent in past titles. Thanks to a suite of angelic and demonic weapons, Dante can now grapple objects to pull them towards him, or pull himself toward the target. It creates new options of aerial combos and plays an important part in the grapple/platform segments that bear a strong resemblance to God of War. The traversal elements feels fast and actually requires a certain amount of coordination at times, though occasionally it feels like these levels go on a bit long to pad out the six to eight hour duration of the game. There are also secret missions to find, for bonus items and increasing your rating per level. And once the game is completed the traditional amped up DMC difficulty levels—like Dante Must Die mode—are unlocked.

So in the end, what are we left with? We have a bold new take on DMC that focuses more on the new—and interesting—lore than the traditional frenetic gameplay that the series is known for amongst hardcore gamers. Ninja Theory has made DMC accessible with a more considered rendering of the character and his world, and they’ve made the game more accessible for those who might not be able to pull off strings of precisely timed combos. Is this game worth your $60? If you’re a purist who wants only the kind of tight, demanding combat of the old series, then no. If you’ve got an open mind and actually enjoy a more accessible game with an interesting story and some great acting, then yes. For the hardcore, this is not the game you’ve been waiting for, but it’s likely that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is, since Platinum has taken the combat the engine they’re famed for from Bayonetta and Vanquish and given it to Raiden of the MGS universe. Personally, I found the trade-off that Ninja Theory made to be an interesting one, and while I’m not completely sold on the easier gameplay, I appreciate the weight and depth they’ve added to Dante’s usually fluffy, ludicrous universe.

To Dante or Not to Dante

To Dante or Not to Dante

When images of the newest Dante from the Devil May Cry series were published online last year, it was perfectly acceptable for outraged fans to take to the forums and social media platforms to express their concern. With less then two months until the game is released in North America, however, it’s time for you to stop criticizing and take an objective look.

Read moreTo Dante or Not to Dante

Devil May Cry: HD Collection (PS3) Review

Devil May Cry: HD Collection (PS3) Review

The Sword. The Guns. The Trench Coat.

There was time when the name Dante was neither confused with a badly executed game based on classic literature, nor was it referred to with a fearful shudder of apprehension because of a possible, badly misdirected reboot. There was a time when you mentioned the name Dante to gamers, and they immediately thought of a cocky, white haired, gun shootin’, sword swingin’ devil killer that cracked wise and broke out into ridiculous, glorious bouts of frenzied, brutal action. This HD pack from Capcom brings us back to those days, and it’s definitely one of the better collections out there.

A Rampage Of Red & Semi-Auto Bullets

Devil May Cry is, of course, one of the more notable turn of the century franchises, ushering in 2001 with the first, sterling example of how to do fast paced, 3D combat that equalled the old 2D beat em’ ups for speed and depth. It set the standard that other 3D hack n’ slash games have been following for the last 10 years. As with many other classics of the previous generation, Capcom have seen fit to put the original last gen trilogy on one disc and slap a new coat of Shiny HD Paint™ on ‘em to see if a market reared on modern, military FPS games can still embrace them.

Of course, fans of the series already know what they’re getting into with the games themselves, so then the obvious question becomes, “Is this worth my $40?” The answer?  Yeah, pretty much. As with other HD collections, the bumped up resolution on the graphics and the adjusted aspect ratio to fit 16:9 widescreens has given the games a decent visual boost. And like other HD collections, this had made any full motion video blurry and noticeably inferior to actual in-game graphics. Unlike the recent Silent Hill collection, there don’t seem to be any gaffes in audio synchronization, at least, not any that are new. The frame rate is also stable, with none of the hitches that Silent Hill experienced when streaming new areas so the performance of the games in this collection is about on par with what we saw in other collections like Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider. Unlike Tomb Raider, however, the Devil May Cry collection lacks that minor convenience of being able to quit out from the current game to the main selection screen to choose another title. So if you’re playing the original DMC and want to jump to DMC 3, you’ll have to just go back to the dashboard of your respective console and reload the disc entirely. On the other hand, unlike the Silent Hill collection, Pipeworks at least took the time to add in a few extras in the form of artwork, a soundtrack player, and even some new “fan art” provided by some notable artists. That’s an appreciated little bit of “going the extra mile” that most of the HD compilations have thus far been too lazy—or rushed—to add in for the long-time fans.

As for the games themselves… well, they are what they are. They still largely hold up in terms of playability, though the years—particularly for DMC 2—have not been kind in the area of awkward, fixed camera placement. Younger players may be in for a mild shock at the noticeably—but not drastically—steeper difficulty curve these games have compared to contemporary action titles, but these games are of an age when the audience was primarily hardcore, and skill levels were more demanding. All in all, for fans of the series, and for those who are curious, this is a pretty safe buy.

To Hell and Back: An Interview with Johnathan Knight

To Hell and Back: An Interview with Johnathan Knight

Few games have grabbed more recent headlines than Visceral Games’ Dante’s Inferno, and with good reason. It’s one of the first major adaptations of a classical literary work and could have a significant impact on the future of the industry. Yet at its core Dante’s Inferno is still a game, and not all of the press has been positive.  The game has high design standards, but many critics have accused the game of being overly derivative and reviewer scores have reflected these complaints. We asked Jonathan Knight some questions about the game’s reception and design, and he took the opportunity to respond to the game’s critics and to elaborate on the creative process. Here, he shares his thoughts on innovation, multiplayer, and phonies, and finally puts one out-of control rumor to rest.

Dante’s Inferno is one of the first games bold enough to engage with a canonical literary text. How does the development of a game with a history differ from the development of an original work like 2008’s Dead Space?

Working from The Divine Comedy gave us a strong vision and structure early in the process, solidified what the levels would be, who the main characters would be, and so forth. It allowed us to make a lot of conceptual decisions very quickly.

Some members of the development team have backgrounds in fields other than gaming. How did this influence the creative process of game development?

It’s not unusual for game developers to have backgrounds in different fields; the industry itself is pretty young. My training in classical dramatic literature gave me an appreciation for literature that may have drawn me to formulize this project, but otherwise, it didn’t have an unusual influence. The team is full of incredibly talented and creative people from all walks of life.

Should gaming be more receptive to outsider perspectives? How might the industry as a whole benefit from the input of more mainstream critics and collaborators? dantes-inferno-ps3-xbox-360-screenshot-6_656x369

We’ve had input from a pretty wide variety of sources, from the loudest user comments on Kotaku, to the front page of the New York Times. It doesn’t get broader than that!

A lot has been made of the similarities between Dante’s Inferno and God of War, particularly in terms of game play. Is this a fair criticism in an industry rife with imitation? How do you respond to critics demanding more ‘originality’?

We don’t feel that the volume and intensity of that criticism was particularly fair, no, because it resulted in an overall metacritic score that doesn’t truly represent the quality of the assets that were made, and of the experience that was delivered. The game is incredibly polished, high-end, and high-performing. The production values are amazing. And the core combat and controls feel as good as the best game in the genre. I agree that 90+ rated games should deliver originality (although there are some that don’t and still score that high, particularly sequels of established games). But our game is not a 75. And it does stand on its own, while obviously being squarely in the melee action genre. Unfortunately, a lot of people decided that the God of War comparison would form the basis of their review, and that decision was made a long time ago, and carries a great deal of emotion with it. But yes, there are plenty of examples of games working side-by-side in the same genre, and the irony is that we probably have more in common with Devil May Cry than God of War.

In other media, it is common practice to recycle old ideas in order to make something new. Shakespeare, for instance, did not tell original stories. He simply told the same stories better. Should the same philosophy apply to game design, insofar as good ideas should be reused if it will lead to better games for consumers?

DanteConcept-article_imageIt is happening now, and has been for some time. This doesn’t mean that innovations aren’t important, and that games shouldn’t break down barriers, invent new genres, combine genres, leverage new technologies in new ways, etc. But there has always been room for games to borrow from each other, and give their own spin on it.

Let’s flip the question around. What is the most original game play device in Dante’s Inferno? Is there something specific that future developers should take note of when making similar games?

In terms of the combat system and the mechanics, the most original device is called Righteousness, and it is the player’s ability to choose to either Punish or Absolve an enemy in the split second before they finish them off. This also applies to the Damned found throughout the game. This moral choice over the destiny of their souls feeds a Holy vs. Unholy meta-system that defines Dante’s powers and abilities over time. Another very original feature is coming in the form of a download in April called Trials of St. Lucia. It will offer a custom combat scenario editor, a second playable character, and online cooperative play.

Gaming, for better or worse, is commonly viewed as an adolescent medium. Did you ever feel pressured to ‘dumb it down’ in order to make the game more fun or to give it a broader, more traditional gaming appeal?

We always wanted the game to be fun; that was the most important thing to us.

Many of the cut scenes in Dante’s Inferno have a very retro aesthetic, opting for effective 2-D animation instead fully rendered CGI. What led to this artistic decision? Did the relaxation of enforced graphical demands give you more freedom to create unique images for Dante’s Inferno?

It was a different way of expressing the raw emotion of Dante’s memories of his past sins. It also was part of the overall conceit of the tapestry sewn into his chest—the idea that he carries these scenes with him, and we can zoom into them at any time, and they come to life, and tell the story of those heinous crimes. I liked how Tarantino used 2D animation to tell one of the origin stories in Kill Bill, and there are other examples like this that inspired us.

Lately, it seems that every new game must have some kind of online multiplayer component. Is this a healthy trend for the industry, or do you foresee adverse consequences that other developers might be ignoring? dantes-inferno-video-game

It’s a very healthy trend, in that gamers are more and more connected, and are expecting extended experiences with the games they buy. What’s unhealthy is when a development team feels forced to tack on an online mode that doesn’t really work with the core nature of the game, and this ends up costing a lot of time and money, and then people don’t really care about it.

Given that your games feature strong single-player campaigns, did you ever feel pressured to incorporate more multiplayer components into Dante’s Inferno?

We have a very exciting online and multiplayer feature coming in April, called Trials of St. Lucia.

Since Dante’s Inferno ends with a ‘To Be Continued,’ it seems that we can expect more from this franchise in the future. Would potential sequels adapt the other two parts of the Divine Comedy, or does your Dante now stand apart as a game with its own characters and iconography?

We’re not ready to talk about sequels at this point in time; the team is focused on the exciting downloadable content coming in the next couple of months.

In the wake of Dante’s Inferno, will we see more developers mining English syllabi for inspiration? What are some of the pitfalls that the developers of The Catcher in the Rye: The Game might have to avoid?

Watch out for the phonies 🙂

Will there ever come a time when students study video games alongside books or movies in classrooms? What will it take to push gaming into that academic realm, and how will Dante’s Inferno influence the discussion?

I’m sure the time will come. One challenge is the platform and the technology; games don’t preserve as easily for playback and study as other mediums like books and movies. I think Dante’s Inferno has one foot in the past—as a high-action button-mashing thrill ride of a video game—and one foot in the future—as an adaptation of one of the greatest works of literature. We took the arrows in the back, so to speak, and there was a lot of debate about it. This will surely help the medium going forward.

What book adaptations would you be the most excited to experience in game form?

I better not say 🙂

Finally, is there any truth to the rumor that a Macbeth game could be in the works? And if so, when can I preorder it?

No, no truth to that rumor, it simply came from me answering the previous question a few too many times 🙂