Eyebrows were raised when Capcom announced that Ninja Theory was developing the new "Devil May Cry." Some weren't sure how the U.K.-based studio would handle the series. Hard-core fans didn't believe that a non-Japanese developer could do justice to one of Capcom's more beloved franchises.
That apprehension is hogwash. The action series was living off the success of the original, which spawned three disappointing sequels. And if Retro Studios proved anything with "Metroid Prime," it's that a Western developer can breathe new life into a franchise that was growing long in the tooth.
Fortunately, that's also the case with "DmC: Devil May Cry," a radical reboot complete with a redesigned protagonist,
Meanwhile, Dante enjoys a freewheeling lifestyle, but that changes when Mundus sends a hunter to kill him. That sets off a chain of events, where Dante joins Vergil, the leader of an anti-Demon rebellion, and befriends a medium named Kat.
All the major characters from the original are in "DmC," but Ninja Theory has remixed the tale and grounds it in contemporary times. The narrative also carries themes
Beyond the story, Ninja Theory's aesthetic bleeds through the art style. Players can see it in how they interpret the enemies of the "Devil May Cry" universe and the realistic character designs. The team's visuals also vibrate with the same palette of "Enslaved."
Those elements are all secondary, though. "DmC" is all about combat. It's violence with the elegance of ballet. Ninja Theory does a good job of bringing that effortless, fluid motion to Dante's arsenal of moves. It may not seem as if it's there at first, but once he acquires his Angel and Demon weapons, the fighting system opens up.
Players can gracefully toss foes in the sky, slash at them as they hang suspended in midair, whip over to an adjacent monster and continue the combo before ending it with a powerful ground attack to obliterate a gang below. The ability to seamlessly switch between weapons opens up more kinds of attacks and lets players freestyle.
That Angel and Devil mode plays a bigger role in traversing levels. They essentially are whips that allow Dante to swing Indiana Jones-like through stages. The Devil Mode will let players pull objects to Dante, while the Angel Mode will lift him to specific anchors. Players must navigate through obstacles and uncover secret areas by using these moves.
While that part of level design is great, "DmC" gets into trouble when it comes to jumping from platform to platform. Sometimes it's hard to judge a distance of a jump, and players often overshoot or slide off their landing area. Other times, you can leap in the wrong direction. It's an annoying flaw in an otherwise solid set of gameplay mechanics.
Hard-core fans, though, may object to the game's difficulty level. Perhaps it's an attempt to appeal to a wide audience, but "DmC" isn't that hard. Veterans can breeze through "DmC" in less than 10 hours without dying, but the game welcomes another play-through. A second go-round with all the weapons lets players unlock more secret areas in each mission.
Although it may not reach the highs of the original, "DmC" is a successful reboot and easily the second best game in the series. It's a new vision that lets players see another side to Dante and injects the franchise with new blood that it sorely needed.
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Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC