DmC: Devil May Cry

DmC: Devil May Cry Hands-On Preview – Angels and Demons

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There's been a lot of talk about DmC since its original announcement back at TGS in September 2010, most of which has revolved around the colour of the rebooted Dante's hair. Yes, his hair is no longer white. Yes, it's been cropped and it's black. But having got our hands on Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry, we soon forgot about all of that daft hair business. Not that we actually cared about the colour of Dante's barnet to begin with.

Hair-based controversy aside, Ninja Theory is a developer that clearly knows its hack 'n' slash and action adventure onions, having delivered PS3-exclusive Heavenly Sword followed by the criminally overlooked Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and that experience shines through in DmC. More importantly though, DmC feels instantly familiar yet distinctly different to previous Devil May Cry games. Right off the bat, the interplay between Dante's ebony & ivory pistols and his trusty sword is immediate and slick, just like its always been in past iterations, but Ninja Theory has added a few fresh mechanics of its own.

Set in Limbo City, our hands-on picks up during a section initially shown in one of the early gameplay videos released for DmC, so it's instantly familiar with the cobbled European streets that break up and shift as Dante runs through them. From the off, we can already tell that this is a Dante that's still cocksure and brash, but he's actually quite witty too, with some smart-mouthed one-liners that actually raise a smirk. We're not here for Dante's verbal repartee though. We're here to see how he can handle himself in a fight against his demonic enemies, seamlessly wielding swords and pistols like he always has.

And if you liked Nero's grabby Devil Bringer arm from Devil May Cry 4, you'll be happy to know that Dante now has his own grapple moves too, as well as different weapons that can be switched on the fly by holding down the left and right triggers. The left trigger activates Dante's angel trigger, which enables him to execute rapid light attacks using a slender scythe weapon, whereas the right trigger activates Dante's devil stance, unleashing a huge heavy axe that can carve through enemy defences, leaving them wide open to attacks. Pressing neither trigger leaves Dante in his default stance, wielding his standard sword and handguns.

Getting stuck in, we come up against several gangly demons that help ease us back into the action, with Dante's juggling combos complemented by the grab move that enables you to launch enemies into the air at the touch of a button, before zipping up towards them to kick off a graceful airborne combo or slam them into the ground. Certain demons need to be dispatched using the appropriate angel or devil triggers, so shield-carrying red-hued enemies have to be dealt with using the devil trigger, while blue-tinged bad guys can be taken down with the angel trigger's scythe. This adds an extra layer of strategy to DmC, keeping you on your toes rather than blindly bashing buttons.

There's a variety of enemies to tackle, including pesky laser spitting cherubs that need to be carved up using the angel trigger, while larger demons with chainsaws can be taken out using whatever weapon you see fit. The usual Devil May Cry combo system remains intact too, so striving to keep your moves chained together in pursuit of that elusive 'S' grade combo is still very much an ongoing concern as you mix up Dante's abilities. Our only interruptions during combos came when we forgot to let go of the triggers to shoot Dante's guns, as we got carried away switching between the angel and devil triggers at will.

Tapping the right bumper enables Dante to evade, while holding the left trigger and hitting the jump button lets you dash. You can also pull objects marked in red using the devil trigger grab and swing from blue points using angel trigger, which makes the platform jumping sections infinitely more interesting than before. There's a double jump (AKA the Air Hike) that we think is unlocked from the off too, thank goodness. And in the shifting, changing, dangerous Limbo City, we end up having to do our fair share of leaping between precipices, as thoroughfares crack and walls cave in around Dante, while his spectral guide appears at pivotal moments to lend a hand. For instance, she helpfully points out that the surveillance cameras have transformed into ogling eyeballs, what with this being a hellish alternate plane where anything can happen, so Dante sets to work yanking the demonic spies out of their sockets and booting them over the horizon. But not before spouting a wisecrack, of course.

While we approached our first hands-on with DmC with a modicum of apprehension, we left Capcom's London HQ feeling pretty good about the prospects of Ninja Theory's first crack of the whip with Dante. Not only does the game look stunning and distinctive, with every inch of its Gothic European architecture dripping with style and detail, from the sandy reds and terracotta hues of the streets to the cold interior of the cathedral's moving hall with its towering stained glass window, but DmC is also great fun to play. And what's more, as a prequel, you'll probably end up finding out how Dante's hair turned white too. So, there's no need to worry. Devil May Cry and Dante certainly seem to be in good hands, and if it transpires that SEGA has actually (stupidly) cancelled Bayonetta 2 as rumoured, we'd consider DmC a potentially worthy alternative.

DmC is due to release sometime on 2012, and we'll be getting another look at the game during E3 next month.


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Game Info
Ninja Theory


US January 15, 2013
Europe January 15, 2013

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