This week, Zero Punctuation reviews DMC: Devil May Cry.
You may recall that I'm a vocal detractor of the practice of naming a new game after the very first game in the series with no alteration. It's like the Eurovision song contest; unbearably fucking pleased with itself and you're supposed to stick the current year on the end of the name. Perhaps to the end of avoiding these issues, the official title of this game (if the front of the box is anything to go by) is, DMC: Devil May Cry, which is somehow even stupider! What's the point of abbreviating something, and then appending the unabbreviated name? It's like saying, "ATM Machine" or "PIN number" taken to a logical conclusion, RAMBLE, GRAMBLE, OH NEVER MIND.
Devil May Cry: Devil May Cry is the reboot of the classic PS2 hack n' slash series developed by Ninja Theory, the lads who did Heavenly Sword and Enslaved, and not as I mistakenly believed for a while, the similarly named Team Ninja, best known for Dead or Alive and ruining Metroid. So thankfully, I was spared the anticipated game in which Dante explains the story in a fixed monotone for two hours while in the background, a woman with big tits and no bra rides on an exercise bike.
So the first controversy is that Dante, the cocky, swaggering, well dressed man in a bleached moptop has been supplanted by Dante, the cocky, swaggering nine-year-old who throws on the first wife-beater and dressing gown that he could be persuaded to peel off the kitchen floor, with short dark hair, no less! Why don't you just come over here and put your cock through the middle of my Devil May Cry PS2 disc, Ninja Theory?
Seriously though, I suppose if you're messing with canon, it's better to go forward with confidence and rip off the waxing strip all at once than to ask if we're okay with it for every uprooted pube. But what we could do without was that one scene near the start, where a mop contrivedly falls onto Dante's head and he stares at himself in the mirror for just long enough for it to not be funny, before smirkingly dismissing the look. There's going forward with confidence, and then there's a developer whipping the tip of my nose with its big, pleased-with-itself stiffy. Not that I think the original quippery doucebag Dante is sacrosanct; I thought he was an absolute knobend. But all you need to do is establish that new Dante is an equally big knobend and then we can all move on!
With no memory of his heritage, nine-year-old Dante is content to while away his life playing conkers and reading the Beano, and presumably thinks that occasionally being pulled into the nightmarish demonic Limbo that coexists with the human realm is just something all growing boys have to deal with, until he meets his posh brother, Virgil who dresses like he's posing for a misguided OK Cupid profile photo, and reveals that they are the twin sons of a Demon and an Angel, and in case Dante never noticed while he was out buying Sherbert Lemons, the entire human race has been enslaved by the demons. Not the whips and chains style of enslavement either, 'cause that would've been sexier at least; the much more insidious "shut up and watch the TV" kind. The people are kept fat and stupid with a tainted commercial soft drink and are simultaneously monitored and lied to by a media network headed by a thinly disguised right-wing pundit, who might as well have been called, "Rill O'Beilly". Yes, the social commentary is about as subtle as the homo-erotic undertones in "Donkey Stud Gang Bang 4" and worthy of a middle school theatrical production at best. But between them, Dante and Virgil and love interest girl all look like a fucking treehouse club plotting to get their ball back from mean old Mr. Henderson, so you can't say it's not fitting!
DMC does manage to recreate the classic Devil May Cry spectacle fighter combat, in that you chain together combos as you switch between weapons and attacks and chains, funnily enough. There are so many weapons, that my standard pattern was to completely forget about most of them until accidentally using one while randomly smashing the buttons, whereupon I'd use it for the rest of the fight and wonder why I don't use it more often before forgetting about it again. And I can never do those combos that require you to pause for a moment, because that goes against every button mashing instinct that usually gets me through these things. Trillion stab, uppercut and basic air combo was usually enough for me because, as the quality of this video shows, I have very low standards for myself. But that was enough to consistently earn "S" ranks and above for stylishness, so you hardcore johnnies hoping for a game as unforgiving as the first Devil May Cry, a game that held your face down in a tray full of Cherlish Crabs saying, "You know, you can drop down to easy mode whenever you like, and your testicles will probably be happier in my little box anyway", may be disappointed but then this is supposed to be young Dante back before he took the training wheels off his sword.
Actually, one game I'm reminded of is Prince of Persia and just to illustrate my earlier point, I'll let you stew on which of the seventeen different games with that name I could be refering to. But DMC actually has some really fucking good environment design...as seems to be de rigueur for video games these days; it does use floating debris in a pretty skybox as a sort of visual shorthand for etherial dream-realm, like a bunch of buildings exploded so hard, the law of gravity said, "I'm sick of you assholes taking me for granted" and stormed out, but there's some really original aesthetics here like the bit where you have to go inside the reflections on the water to explore an upside-down city, or navigate a computerised world modelled off bombastic news network idents, and like Prince of Persia 2008 (ha, HA yes you see, it was that one all along!) there's a lot of oppurtunity to explore with jumping, gliding and grappling sequences. Although it's always annoying when optional collectables hunting clashes with linear room by room combat, when there's no way of knowing which of the several routes you can take, actually continues the level, locks you out of the previous section, hangs a pork chop off your ass and releases hungry dogs.
The combat and the aesthetics plug enough of my holes that I can recommend DMC - holes in my rowboat that it becomes seaworthy, what did you think I meant?! But it does shame its lineage in the challenge department. It has that depressingly common problem in games nowadays that the giant boss fights are all really fucking easy. Because somewhere in the last decade or so, someone decided that a boss fight is not an ultimate do or die test of the skills we have been honing, but rather a music hall variety showcase for the entire dev team, where the modellers are finally able to use their fancy college educations to model something other than chairs, and the music guys get to smash all their instruments with hammers for five minutes to create the right sense of climactic drama. But the actual fight is just a huge lumpy mess winding up its attacks for so long that we've got time to prize off the dodge button, flick it across the room and recover it from between the sofa cushions before we actually need to press it, and then it gormlessly zones out and lets you wail on its obvious weak point for thirty seconds.
When the big boss expands like an asshole in the prison showers and takes on his city destroying form, my first reaction should not be, "Phew, that's a relief. I thought my rowboat was about to be made seaworthy."
Chillin' like a Vergillin: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
And what's the point of life restoring orbs if the game puts a checkpoint down every time you fucking exhale
Dante ups the ante while wearing scanty panties