DmC: Ninja Theory’s Best Fighting Engine

       Once I know I want to play a game I typically shy away from any more information about it until I have played it. Having just finished DmC, the Devil May Cry reboot by Ninja Theory, I’ve checked out a few reviews here and there and I noticed that despite the initial disdain the game is getting favorable reviews…from the critics. The users are being overly harsh on this game. While I have never finished any of the previous Devil May Cry games, I did get pretty far into the first one and I believe I might have completed the first level of the 3rd, though I might not have beaten the first boss given the unforgiving difficulty. I have on the other hand beaten Heavenly Sword several times and am a huge fan. There were some parts of DmC that I was not fond of but I’ll start with the good stuff.

       If there is one aspect that everyone should be able to agree on it would be the combat. DmC has one of the most versatile, fluid combat systems I have ever seen. Having 5 distinct weapons all available at the press of a button makes for some visually flashy combos where Dante is constantly switching between weapons. Even the cutscenes depict a silhouette of Dante chaining together ridiculously long attacks streams. There are two crowd control weapons(angelic) and two heavy, single target weapons(demonic). Although the standard attack combos serve pretty much the same purpose for each style, their utility attacks are how everything gets chained together. The Aquila, dual wielded glaives, have the ability to pull several enemies to Dante at the same time while the Osiris has the most aerial combos, even being able to launch Dante and his prey further into the air. Switching between these two angelic weapons allows Dante to pull a large group of enemies into the air and juggle them for quite some time. If any get out of reach just switch back to Aquila and pull everyone back in. Aquila’s other utility is to have a glaive hold an enemy in place while dealing continuous damage. This proves exceptionally useful when dealing with two or more of the stronger enemies. Moving to the demonic side we find the Arbiter, a very large axe.  It excels at dealing with enemies in a straight line as most of its attacks pass through enemies. And finally we get to Eryx, two giant boxing gloves. Eryx is best used against shielded enemies as it has the best chance of unbalancing enemies and knocking them around with uppercuts and ground pounds. By all means these are not the only functions these weapons server outside of raw damage but they are the most important in my eyes. The two angelic weapons deal very little damage per strike but have longer attack combos and hit multiple targets. The two demonic weapons knock enemies away too fast to rack up long combos but have exceptionally high single target damage. Every weapon has a shortcoming as well though. The Aquila is pretty worthless against anything with a shield and Osiris lacks a decent launcher to pull of the aerial attacks that it excels in. Arbiter is the slowest weapon in the game and Eryx has absolutely zero that hit more than one target. This is where the game shines! Every weapon excels in a couple of situation and other weapons have the abilities to force those situations to happen. This also allows different play styles to flourish where one is not any better or worse than another. Once you understand how every piece fits the combat looks like a lethal ballet of sharp weapons. Using Arbiter you can launch several inline enemies into the air, jump after them with Aquila and pull them all around you, combo them higher into the air with Osiris, and let them fall while you charge up a ground pound with Eryx to obliterate anyone who hadn’t died already. The first time that I really understood all the weapons and did something like this was a huge rush. This is definitely one of those games that let you go on a power trip. This iteration of Dante is definitely the most powerful we have seen to date. Unfortunately, he is also the most underdeveloped Dante we have seen to date.

!!!WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

       While the combat will have you playing this game through to the end, the story most likely will not. Dante’s character does not work at all. They took the Capcom’s Dante most prolific characteristic(his cockiness) and multiplied it tenfold. I understand he is rebellious, narcissistic, and spiteful. These are his teenage years and I understand why he swears so much as well. But I do believe that while half of this may be to build a character who will mature later on, the other half was marketing the game at a younger, more brash demographic. Regardless, Dante only has a few lines in the game pertaining to the story(usually he is just calling boss uncouth names) and nothing he says really seems to support his actions. One day he discovers his origins and he decides to be a protector of humanity. That’s pretty much the whole story. From there he destroys a couple million demons, a few bosses, and saves the day. But it never explains why he decided to leave the bachelor life behind(the opening cutscene depicts him going to a bar, drinking a lot, taking two beautiful women back to his trailer and then the cutscene insinuates sex) to be humanity’s guardian. Also the “twist” ending was weak. Even without having prior knowledge from the other canon that Virgil and Dante are at odds, it is heavily hinted at throughout the entire game. The second to last cutscene practically spells it out for you. If you haven’t gotten it by then Virgil explains his plans and Dante decides to fight him over it.

       It has been said that this is a reboot but there were a lot of things that could lead to it being canon with Capcom’s story. If that is true I do hope there is a “coming of age” story eventually where Dante grows up. By the end of the game Dante and Virgil had their disagreement and went their separate ways, Dante had his iconic white hair, and the world of LIMBO had merged with our reality. While I’m sure that fans of the Capcom DMC games have lists of inconsistencies that support this being a reboot, I do see a few details that could lead this game to connect with the Capcom titles.

!!!END SPOILERS!!!

       And for anyone still wondering, yes DMC has an easy difficulty that is far easier than any other DMC title but it also has several difficulties to spice things up. Nothing as brutal is Devil May Cry 3 but still some options there. You can play on Easy/Normal/Hard but the extra modes are most likely where people will find the added difficulty. Son of Sparda uses the Hard settings but remixes the enemy waves, creating some pretty tough enemy combinations. Then comes the standard “Heaven and Hell” mode and “Hell and Hell” mode, where both enemies and Dante die in one hit and enemies have Hard difficulty hit points and Dante dies in one hit, respectively. So while DmC is the most accessible title in the series, it also does not eschew the pain and practice required to beat it on the hardest modes.

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