Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preview // DmC: Devil May Cry

If you haven't played the new DmC: Devil May Cry demo yet, you should get on that. I just finished playing it myself and I've got to say, it is one hot slice of pie. The new Dante—who seems like one of the most universally hated redesigns of a character in recent history if Internet message boards are to be believed (and really, when aren't they?)—already appeals to me way more than the old Dante ever did.

Old Dante will always be defined for me by that ridiculous cutscene where he's eating pizza and fighting demons, flipping chairs and striking poses, all the while spouting cheesy lines like, "This party's getting crazy! Let's rock!" and "I can already tell, looks like this is going to be one hell of a party!" It reeked of trying too hard to be cool.

Is new Dante trying a little too hard to be edgy? Sure, but I'll take that over old Dante any day.

The writing is a lot subtler here and Dante has a simple, straightforward charm. He and his companion, Kat, run into danger and split up. They reunite a few minutes later.

"There you are!" Kat exclaims, relieved to see him.

"Here I am," Dante says with easy confidence.

Still, this new Dante is no stranger to cocky flamboyance, but now it's refreshing instead of being cringe-inducing. At least in this demo, it never feels forced.

It helps that the new game seems like it'll actually be fun to play, a quaint little concept that the old games never seemed to care for, preferring to revel in their unrelenting difficulty like Ninja Gaiden with skintight leather pants and a curious aversion to wearing a shirt. By the time I'd gotten through the first fight in Devil May Cry 3, I was ready to put the game down already. It was exhausting.

DmC lets you ramp the difficulty up to sadomasochistic levels if you're into that kind of thing, but it seems more concerned in just making sure you're having a good time. It smartly uses its loading screens to demonstrate the kind of crazy, super long combo you can get yourself into if you can manage to wrap your head around everything Dante can do.

He's got you covered if you're just looking to flip guys into the air and shoot them with two pistols, but the real fun lies in his new angel and devil attacks. Hold L2 for the angel mode and Dante will pull out a scythe great for quick, stylish combos, or R2 for his devil mode for a flaming axe all about big swings and heavy damage. Sometimes enemies will require one or the other, but most of the time, you're free to go with whatever strikes your fancy. And for me, that meant carving enemies with my spinning scythe high above the ground. You know, like an angel.

Dante can also use his angel and devil modes to launch himself toward an enemy or pull it to him, respectively. It's a cool carryover from Devil May Cry 4 that makes it really easy to keep moving through the fight and keep the pace up. Be aggressive enough and you'll be able to activate Devil Trigger mode that brings Dante back to his white-haired, red-jacketed roots and grinds the world around him to a standstill.

But the coolest part of the demo is undoubtedly Limbo City. It's the city itself more than anything that wants Dante dead, reshaping itself at will to break him, bury him, kill him.

As Dante passes through an alleyway, buildings desperate to crush him grate together violently. The word "FALL" scrawls onto a cobblestone road as it breaks apart beneath Dante's feet and stretches impossibly, ripping a bellowing chasm below. The world shifts angrily at Dante's presence, a howling whisper piercing, "KILL DANTE."

It's the kind of reality-bending fantasy I've wanted to see in games for a long time, executed marvelously here.

The old guard Devil May Cry fans can lament the death of their dear Dante all they want. I couldn't be more happy with the change.

DmC: Devil May Cry will be released on January 15, 2013 for PS3, 360, and PC.