DMC: Devil May Cry review
Devil May Cry was one of the first hack and slash-style action games for the previous generation of console hardware when it launched on the PS2, all the way back in 2001. It was a revelation, combining the ridiculous lengthy combos and flashy special moves of Capcom's fighting games with a gothic storyline, puzzles and exploration elements borrowed from the Resident Evil series. Already four games in, this fifth title reboots the series, completely redesigning main character Dante and rewriting much of the storyline canon.
As the offspring of an unholy union between an angel and a demon, Dante is a Nephilim that can travel between our world and Limbo – a twisted version of our world from which demons secretly control us with subliminal messaging and mood suppressive drugs hidden in the most popular fizzy drinks. Tasked with taking down the demon leader, there's a near-limitless horde of hellspawn standing between you and your final goal. Thankfully you're well equipped for the task, with both melee and ranged weapons that can give you the edge in any battle.
The arsenal is split into angelic and demonic types; angelic weapons include a scythe and a pair of shuriken that deal damage to multiple enemies, while demonic weapons – an axe and a pair of gauntlets – deal massive damage one blow at a time. There's also a pair of trusty pistols to keep your combos going when enemies fly out of reach, and a pair of chains that can propel you towards a demon, or pull it towards you from afar.
Although it’s been simplified from previous games in the series, the style combo system combines each of these weapons into a single flow of combat, letting you plough your way through increasingly tough waves of enemies with the maximum amount of flair. At the outset, you're limited to a few select combos, but as you progress, unlocking new weapons and abilities, you'll soon have a lethal arsenal of moves to choose from – although it will take a second play through to unlock everything.
All of Dante's moves are animated beautifully, and the game in general has the unique appearance of an MC Escher drawing brought to life. As you move between the real world and Limbo, the levels warp around you, twisting into fractured alternate realities that move and react to your presence. Although much of the game is spent in enclosed spaces, the developers have given the larger platform-oriented sections fantastic vistas to keep you gawping at the view – this is handy, as these sections are slower paced and nowhere near as exciting as the action sequences.
Accompanying the gothic visual style is an incredibly atmospheric soundtrack, co-produced by dubstep DJs Noisia and death metal band CombiChrist – the ominous basslines and melancholic tones that play during exploration give way to thundering guitars and screaming vocals when the action kicks off. It’s a combination that works incredibly well given the source material, and the developers should be given praise for letting two well respected musicians do what they do best.
Designed primarily for consoles, DMC has been ported to the PC with higher resolution graphics and support for multi-monitor setups, but there's little doubt that you'll have more fun playing on a joypad than with a mouse and keyboard. Extended combos rely on precise button presses and the action sequences rarely let up, meaning we felt more in control with two analogue sticks in our hands.