So I wrote some thoughts I had about Ninja Theory’s upcoming entry on the Devil May Cry franchise and with all the love in the world I decided to play the demo for DmC in hopes that it would win me over. I ended up coming out of it with conflicted thoughts.
I don’t think people quite understand what’s happening with the game right now. Let’s say you’re a big Call of Duty or Battlefield fan and you just heard the next game in the series was being given to a different studio. No big deal right? Guess what, that studio is Spark Unlimited. Sure, Ninja Theory probably isn’t that bad but the point still stands. The next game in a treasured series is being carted away to a developer with a track record of adding mediocre entries into the genre and is known for having a bigger focus on story over gameplay. Humorously enough, Spark Unlimited is working on the sequel to Lost Planet 2 which only further questions Capcom’s decisions lately.
Various interviews throughout the last few months also lead me to doubt the developers themselves since they’re acted fairly immaturely at various criticisms thrown their way. I’m not even talking about things like straight up insults, I mean genuine well thought out and worded criticism. I still remember reading how NT admitted to sticking with the Unreal Engine 3 over the MT-Framework Engine because they didn’t want to bother learning it. So not only does it show how lazy they are, but it also shows how dumb they are if they really think that the UE3 is the better engine for this type of game. There’s no question that UE3 handles things like shooters fantastically, but it just doesn’t do fast paced action games very well with its known texture loading and frame-rate issues. There are studios who know how to make the engine work best for them such as Rocksteady and Epic, but Ninja Theory is clearly nowhere near the quality of Rocksteady or the technical know-how that Epic has. The MT-Framework Engine is fantastic for PC versions of games with DMC4 being one of the best ports I’ve ever seen. I was able to run that game on my brother’s shitty laptop at low settings and it still looked better than DmC and kept a higher frame-rate.
It’s a shame because this game looks like it could be a decent enough hack-and-slash game on par with something like Dante’s Inferno or Castlevania LoS; too bad that everything wrong with it is going to keep distracting me. I’m sure anyone who is somehow excited for this game would tell me that I’m going into every video/demo with extreme bias by comparing it to previous DMC games, but why shouldn’t I? If one of your favorite game franchises was suddenly getting rebooted by a developer whose previous entries in the genre have been decent at best shouldn’t I have good reason to be upset? The upsetting thing about all this is that this is probably going to be Ninja Theory’s best game yet, unfortunately it’s the worst Devil May Cry game.
Now that I got that out of me let’s get on to what I thought about the DmC demo.
Why is there no lock-on? Removing the lock-on function not only makes the combat slightly unwieldy since you can no longer control your attacks on a specific enemy but this also removes strafing which was an important way of keeping enemies in your line of sight at all times and also increased the amount of moves you could do since there were attacks you could only perform while locked on. Ninja Theory continues to puzzle me with their game that they claim is expanding on the DMC gameplay but seems to be retarding it instead.
Why is there a second button to evade? No, seriously, why would you waste precious space on a controller for something that is already assigned a spot? I vaguely recall an interview where somebody from NT (likely Tameem) said they want players to always have access to the dodge button which is stupid. It’s like they think gamers are so retarded they wouldn’t be able to handle having a single evade button like how it’s been in action games for years. I’ve got something useful for that second button spot, how about making it the lock-on button?
Now I enjoyed using the grapple whip that Dante has but something about them was bothering me each time I used it. Eventually it clicked that the whip they’ve been talking about since the first trailer is just a different look for Nero’s devil arm from DMC4. To give myself credit it’s been quite a while since I played DMC4. So not only do they continue to show how unoriginal they are when it comes to creating “original” weapons, but the whip is just way too useful. You can use it to keep yourself in the air indefinitely as long as there are enemies to latch onto; the range on it is pretty damn impressive as well.
That axe is stupidly strong. I understand that this is a demo but you can’t assume that all demos will be changed in the final product because most of the time they’re not. I was steamrolling through the enemies on the hardest difficulty while exclusively using the axe (besides the few moments when I was actually *forced* to use the scythe) and the boss was complete cake. Not only does it slap everyone silly but its launcher can send multiple enemies in a straight line up into the air so all you need to do is run around until they’re all in a straight line and send them flying. Go ahead, it’s not like your style meter is going to drop. Oh and that scythe is so pathetically weak that I only ended up using because I got tired of using the axe. When unoriginal developers can’t think of a good weapon they usually throw in something that deals low damage but makes it up with increased attack speed; the problem here is that the scythe just doesn’t do enough damage to justify its use. Your sword is just as fast as it and it’s even stronger to boot. You could argue that it’s used to build my style meter up but since I managed to score an SSS from simply dodging an attack and landing a couple hits with the axe I don’t see the point in using the scythe. The only thing sadder than this joke of a weapon is what they did to Ebony & Ivory. I understand that there are very strict gun laws over in the UK, but I really hope NT understands that you put bullets in guns, not peas. I don’t think Ninja Theory understood why guns are in DMC because this really feels like they begrudgingly threw them in to appease fans. These pistols do almost no damage to enemies and don’t even build up your style meter which really makes me wonder why they’re even in the damn game. They’re almost as useless as putting a second evade button in a game, OH WAIT!
The thing I absolutely loved about the weapons in DMC was how you could stick with one for the entire game and you’d never be forced to use what you didn’t want to use; you simply unlocked a few crazy weapons and it was up to you to decide which you preferred. This time around, besides being upset at not being able to come up with an original weapon, NT is basically forcing players to use the other weapons with enemies that can only be killed by angel or demon weapons. On the harder difficulty modes you’ll encounter blue and red enemies that can only be killed by your angel or demon weapons. I really see no point in doing this other than forcing players to use weapons in a series that is known for letting you play with what you want without being punished for it.
Something else that bothers me with the weapons is how unoriginal they are. We’ve got a scythe, an axe, a glaive, and a pair of oversized hands. What happened to the days where we got a transforming briefcase (Pandora), a triple nunchuck (Cerebus), the demon guitar (Nevan), dragon gauntlets (Ifrit), or a laser gun (Artemis)? These are just a few of the many awesome weapons off the top of my head. The series is full of memorable weapons and even if you didn’t particularly like one you still remembered it. DmC just has a few regular weapons we’ve seen countless times before and they don’t even have an interesting look to them.
I don’t understand how a developer can fail to deliver unique weapons or at least put a creative spin on weapons we’re familiar with. It’s also insulting how the alternate weapons have resorted to the light/heavy category with the angel being the light attack and the demon weapons being the heavy. I always loved how all the weapons in DMC had a unique feel and that they didn’t have to cheapen the experience by resorting to simple light or heavy weapons.
Remember how satisfying it was to get an SSS in DMC? It seems that Ninja Theory thought it was just way too hard to do so and decided to not only dumb down the style meter but make it even easier to get a high score. First of all, it’s hilarious how your style meter will not drop down a letter until you get hit which means you can keep an SSS rating for as long as you want while running in circles and not attacking anyone. Now that we’ve got two evade buttons you sure as hell have no excuse for getting hit in this game since that roll is pretty damn fast. It’s also pathetically easy to get an SSS on hard by simply dodging an attack and following it up with a few hits from the axe.
Speaking of style, where did the style system go? DMC3 dramatically changed the combat with the introduction of the style system and DMC4 perfected it by allowing us to switch styles on the fly. This not only improved upon the style system by allowing players to experiment with the various styles without having to replay missions, but it also opened up the amount of potential combos to ridiculous heights. The removal of this feature really makes me question whether Ninja Theory has any respect for the advancements the Devil May Cry franchise made in the genre or whether they couldn’t come up with anything new to add to it and decided to just axe it.
I think there may have been something wrong with my demo because this game definitely did not “feel” like 60fps as they’ve been telling us it would. Devil May Cry is all about fast gameplay and you can’t have that when your game is as slow as molasses. Hell, they couldn’t even do us the favor of locking it at 30fps since it would drop down into the lower 20’s and possibly even lower. I don’t even understand why it’s dropping that low when there are only ever three or four enemies on screen doing nothing. Speaking of the enemies, why won’t they ever attack me? I’d sit there on hard waiting for them to attack only to laugh as I rolled around them. I suppose the demons decided to take some fighting advice from the Assassin’s Creed AI and politely take turns attacking. The game also has a serious issue with the flow in the combat itself. Whenever you kill an enemy the game slows down to show off how badass you are and this kills the fast paced flow this series is supposed to have. Not only that but during the Slurm Queen fight the combat is constantly stopping to show off the same cinematic of Dante slamming her face to the floor or the various other cutscenes that pollute that fight. This sort of thing is fine in a game like God of War where the entire point behind the game is to be this grand cinematic epic which means Ninja Theory got handed the keys to wrong fucking franchise to continue their attempt at wowing us with their cinematic stories.
There’s something about cameras in this game that bothers me and it has to do with those darn demon cameras in the game and the camera you “control” while playing. First of all, hopping around to smash those cameras is not fun and a quick cinematic of Dante doing it would’ve sufficed. It’s a jarring break in the flow of the game when you suddenly have to navigate (I’m using the word generously since you hardly navigate anything) the area to smash these demon cameras. Ninja Theory has been repeatedly stressing how they’re radically changing the series by including platforming moments in it and if this is what they meant then they sure did their job right, just not for the better. This is a hack-and-slash series, what’s the point in throwing in some half assed excuse of a platforming mechanic besides being able to talk out your ass during interviews that you’re revolutionizing the series? My other issue is with the actual camera in that it tries to twist and turn into these cinematic angles but it just ends up disorienting you more than looking cool. After finishing off an enemy you’re left looking at the floor or at an awkward angle and you’re forced to run away to fix the camera before you can come back into the fight.
There’s also no taunt button which is dildos.
In the higher difficulty modes there are these enemies that can only be killed with your angel/demon weapons, but besides that they also have an AOE attack that you can dodge in the most hilarious way. When the enemy slams the ground to cover the area in this red fire, you’ll be completely immune to all damage as long as you have your demon weapon equipped. I thought the entire point in playing higher difficulty modes was for the game to get more challenging; if anything this is making it even easier.
I suppose Ninja Theory’s QA team of brain dead chimps worried them that their game might be too hard so they added in an easy mode button called Devil Trigger. A simple tap of a button and Dante will not only regenerate all his health but time will also slow down (for the enemies) and they’ll all be thrown into the air for a few seconds giving you ample time to run away to fix the camera or hit them like a piñata. Dante’s jacket turning bright red and hair turning white also seems like it was lazily thrown in to appease fans who cried foul of his appearance in the reveal trailer during E3’11. In previous games of the series all DT did was buff you up a bit and open up a few new moves you could do; it was still up to you to continue to play well since you could still get slapped silly when activated.
The game also has that same sort of floaty combat that has no real weight to it similar to any game trying to ape on God of War. All of the weapons feel the exact same as the weapons in other hack-and-slash titles and there’s nothing notable or interesting about them. So far we’ve got Rebellion which feels fine, Peas & Beans, a scythe that plays exactly like the scythe from every game that ever had a scythe (Dante’s Inferno and Darksiders came to mind while playing), and the axe that behaves just like any heavy weapon ever made. We’ve seen clips of a glaive and a pair of large fists; while the glaive at least looks neat to use that’s one weapon in the entire game. Most of these weapons simply aren’t interesting or fun to use besides playing reverse whack-a-mole with the axe.
Now after playing the demo I still don’t think the game is bad, it’s just a garbage Devil May Cry game and an unnecessary reboot being made by a developer who clearly doesn’t get what makes Devil May Cry, well, Devil May Cry. This game looks to be on par with many of the other AAA hack and slash titles to have released recently and I’ll likely pick it up a few months down the line like I do with all of these games. I want to stress again that I have no hate against this game and that all of my complaints could be easily thrown at other AAA hack and slash titles, but the reason I don’t go writing about all of them is because they stay in their little spot in the genre (God of War, Dante’s Inferno, Castlevania LoS, & Darksiders to an extent) while DMC has always been over with games like Ninja Gaiden or Bayonetta. The problem with DmC is that it’s stagnating a series that’s been pushing the genre forward and instead of waiting for the Dragon’s Dogma team to make DMC5 (they worked on previous DMC titles) Capcom is taking a gamble hoping that this new title will reel in Call of Duty levels of success and both fans of the original series & newcomers. Devil May Cry 4 was the strongest selling title in the series with it hitting just over two million in sales which is great. I still don’t see how Capcom expected DmC to hit the 5-6 million they were originally aiming for and the fact that they’ve knocked back their expectations to 2 million really shows they’re a little less confident in the game now. Fans of the series are also put into an odd spot because if the game sells well (hell even if it sells decently) then Ninja Theory will likely get to continue making their version of the series and we’ll never get any sort of conclusion to the things DMC4 left unanswered. On the other hand, if it bombs then it’s likely to get put down like Mega Man. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens this week when DmC releases.