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Critical Reception: Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry
Critical Reception: Ninja Theory's  DmC: Devil May Cry
January 15, 2013 | By Danny Cowan

January 15, 2013 | By Danny Cowan
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This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to the Ninja Theory-developed franchise reboot DmC: Devil May Cry, which reviewers describe as "a hectic, beautiful ballet of improvised brutality." DmC currently earns a score of 86 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Josh Harmon at Electronic Gaming Monthly scores DmC at 9.5 out of 10. "Ninja Theory has expertly deconstructed the franchiseís formula, tweaked and trimmed the component parts, and rebuilt them into a experience that improves on its predecessors in nearly every aspect," he praises. "The end result is a stylish, polished, and absurdly entertaining title thatís easily one of the best action games of the last decade."

"The only aspect of DmC thatís a truly drastic departure from the norm is the visual style, which replaces the gothic architecture of the previous games with a gritty contemporary backdrop and a hefty dose of surrealism," Harmon notes. "But looks will only take you so far, and the real meat of DmC is the stellar hack-and-slash combat.

"As in previous games, Dante has access to both melee weapons and firearms, and thereís an onscreen Style Meter that judges your performance based on how well youíre mixing up your attacks -- though itís admittedly a bit easier to nab a high rating here."

Harmon finds that one specific addition changes the combat system for the better. "The biggest change is a new system that allows you to access your three currently equipped melee weapons on the fly," he explains. "Hold down the left trigger, and [Dante's sword will] transform into an Angelic weapon with its own set of combos and abilities. Hold down the right trigger, and itíll become a Demonic one. It takes a bit of time to wrap your brain around, but once youíve mastered it, the combat possibilities it opens up are absolutely staggering."

"Above all else, the game does a phenomenal job of pacing itself, constantly introducing new weapons, skills, and enemy types to keep you on your toes," Harmon writes. "For the first few levels, youíll hack away at enemies without much finesse, but by the time the credits roll, youíll be stringing together combos between all of your weapons, parrying and dodging like a madman, and chaining between dozens of foes without ever touching the ground. Itís a hectic, beautiful ballet of improvised brutality. Itís art."

IGN's Ryan Clements rates DmC at 8.9 out of 10. "While the relationship between [Dante and Vergil] hit a high in Devil May Cry 3, it takes a different form in DmC: Devil May Cry," he notes. "This troubled brotherhood -- and the divine battle waging around it -- finds more realistic footing in DmC and gets a seething booster shot of style and substance. The result is a smooth, shocking, and supremely intelligent entry in this legendary line of demonic death dealing."

"In order to progress through each mission Dante fights in 'human' form by default, wielding Rebellion and a selection of firearms in high style," Clements explains. "Even if human mode was the only one available to players, Dante still has an ample supply of techniques at his disposal to dispatch opponents. Flurries of sword strokes and gunshots make every combo an exercise in extravagance, satisfying to execute but also easy to understand.

"But Dante also has a demon form and angel form, both of which grant him instant access to a weapon other than Rebellion. While his demon weapons offer slow, powerful attacks, his angelic weapons provide fast, effective crowd control for larger groups of enemies. There's no limit to switching between these forms, and players need only hold a trigger to maintain them. This means that a single combo can not only incorporate every weapon in Dante's arsenal but also continue on endlessly, assuming he doesn't run out of demons to fight!"

The formula isn't without flaws, however. "Without a dedicated lock-on button, dealing with large groups -- especially fliers -- and grappling specific enemies can be troublesome," Clements recalls. "And while the camera bravely attempts to keep pace with the action, it will fall behind or swing around to a poor angle on occasion. [...] More concerning is the length of the story itself, which -- on the first run -- only takes 10 hours or less."

"Long-time Devil May Cry fans unsure of Ninja Theory's treatment can abandon their fears," Clements assures. "DmC hurls Dante into a newer, better world, complete with a glorious combat system and enough style to make old Dante proud."

Philip Kollar at Polygon gives DmC a score of 8 out of 10. "DmC: Devil May Cry is a case study in why many fans are wary of reboots," he begins. "It takes a series known for being light-hearted and goofy ó even in its most serious moments ó and attempts to infuse it with a darker, grittier tone and something resembling social commentary."

The resulting game excels in unexpected ways. "Ninja Theory has demonstrated a talent for story and writing in the past but has struggled to execute on gameplay," Kollar writes. "Despite the studio's history, the slow, cynical story is DmC's weakest part. More surprisingly, the fast-paced, bombastic action surrounding the story is strong, sometimes even brilliant."

"When it's not desperate to be counter-culture, DmC's story settles for being crass," Kollar warns. "The game attempts a small character arc, but it feels forced; the Dante at the end of the game isn't all that different from the Dante at the beginning. It's easy to get drawn into his struggle against demonic forces. It's a lot harder to actually like him."

Kollar is particularly impressed with the depth of DmC's combat. "It's difficult to fall back on mashing the same combo over and over in DmC," he says. "The game eventually introduces enemies who can only be harmed by angel or demon weapons specifically, but they're used sparingly, often mixed In with larger groups. These encounters force you to refine your tactics and try new things."

"The game's tone falls apart as it fluctuates between deadpan and dopey, but the action never falters," Kollar concludes. "Fights are fast, intense and fun, and they're aided by a world where nothing is what it seems and nothing stays the same for long. I just wish Ninja Theory had matched the mesmerizing level design with a character who I actually want to spend time around."


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Comments


Alan Rimkeit
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They murdered Dante as a character for me. They turned a charismatic, joking, prankster warrior into a angry emo douche. LAME. Sorry, no sale. Give me the HD DMC PS3 collection. I miss the old Dante who was funny and kicked ass at the same time. The new one is just an ass.

"It's difficult to fall back on mashing the same combo over and over in DMC," he says. "The game eventually introduces enemies who can only be harmed by angel or demon weapons specifically, but they're used sparingly, often mixed In with larger groups. These encounters force you to refine your tactics and try new things."

Gee whiz, that sounds like the first DMC.... :-/

""Despite the studio's history, the slow, cynical story is DmC's weakest part"

Slow? Cynical? That is NOT DMC. That is some other crap. >:( Grrrrr, you suck Capcom!

Dean Boytor
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I remember when this game was first shown as a trailer people lost their minds on the color of Dante's hair and wrote it off immediately. But eventually we find the white hair does come into play while in demon form and as a joke using a wig(something I read earlier about).
To the point, as I recall Dante was very douche-like in DMC 3, almost frat boy nature. DMC 2 was the odd step brother of DMC 1. In DMC 2 they regulated your gun shots at a fixed rate so you could no longer shoot at a fast rate, which kind of cramped my style. Although thought the story was strangely interesting, demonic building boss, intertwining story lines with a different character.

I'm not one to disagree, Dante's attitude is less then desirable and I do miss his stoic bad assery, but in terms of character design it seemed they used DMC3 as a jumping off point in this re-telling. I think the Juvenile attitude and his devil may care style is part of who he is and a product of his environment.

Or at least that's my opinion.

What was your opinion on DMC4?

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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Go replay the franchise-I just finished the original again, Dante was a douchebag from day one. He's just gone from cocky to actually trying to layer it a bit.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Dean Boytor - I liked DMC4 even though Dante was not the main character. He is playable but Nero is an acceptable main character. He is more subdued than Dante but is not a huge downer like the new Dante is.

@Kellam Templeton-Smith - Maciej Bacal put it better than I did in saying that "Dante was goofy, he cracked jokes, he made fun of himself". That is why he was such a fun character. I liked that he was cocky. It was fun. The original DMC games never got too serious. Deadpool is another character that runs in the same style of being a mad prankster. Deadpool and Dante would be a great mashup.

Mikolaj Holowko
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I will add a bit to it too. Basically almost all arenas are just squares or circles, where in the old ones arenas were different shapes with different elevations.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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I don't get why everyone is freaking out like the franchise is some sort of sacred cow-the second one is garbage, and the fourth is nearly adequate.

When Kamiya proved that he could make a better DMC game than Capcom (Bayonetta's combat system trumps -every- other game of its type, and still has boundless creative energy and fun), it seemed silly of them not to try to refresh the franchise.

The combat in this looks a bit more shallow, but it's aesthetically incredible.

Dean Boytor
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Well said, I think you hit the nail on the head. Its not that the series is garbage, its tripped over itself a few times before. The series has such a potential to be very great and I think fans get very frustrated when it doesn't meet that expectation. Although this can be applied to a thousand games over.

Carlos Rocha
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I don't know, I think people are just over thinking something they haven't played for themselves. The marketing has been pretty bad since it's just been provoking the people that didn't like the idea of the revamp in the first place. I'm gonna give it a go, even if the demo showed a bit easy, and the "no lock on" drives me completely crazy (I'm a hardcore, Dante Must Die DMC player after all...). But the combos felt good, and the enemies, albeit not as original as the first game on the series, seem enjoyable. I really hope enough people give Ninja Theory a chance, I haven't loved their fighting engine before but this one seems to fare better, and I'm certainly in favor of innovating and trying new things.

That being said, I also hope for some "gaiden" DMCs where you can play as the old Dante (I'm also a japanese anime lover, after all), without said game replacing these new tries of refreshing the brand.

Arthur De Martino
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Gotta love IGN praising this game storyline when they could barely make a sentence over Anarchy Reigns one to the point they give you the impression to be about chasing a criminal.

Joseph Legemah
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mechanically it's mostly good and one of the better DMC games. the writing really is bad however, and yes it's embarrassing to play around other people. that's a first for me.


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