Friday, November 23, 2012

But wait - there's games out there!

I'm not quite ready to post the next part of Cubing Without Trying - I got a little distracted by the release of the demo for "DmC". "DmC" is the lastest entry in Capcom's long-running stylish action series "Devil May Cry". The past "Devil May Cry" games star a white-haired half-demon called Dante who tracks down demons to keep them out of the human world with a sword, a couple of pistols, and whatever other weapons he finds along the way. Instead of being a direct sequel or prequel to one of the existing games, it is set in a parallel universe. I let it download when I went to bed Tuesday night, and didn't really get to play it seriously until Wednesday night.

I had heard a lot of negative talk about DmC, since
1) Capcom wasn't doing its latest iteration of the "Devil May Cry" series in-house,
2) the developer, Ninja Theory, was using the Unreal Engine instead of using MT Framework and there was concern that the fast-paced juggling and precise combos of the first four games would be compromised, and
3) Dante's hair was not white this time and he just looks like a stupid cigarette-smoking emo kid now.

I can hardly blame Capcom for farming out "Devil May Cry" to Ninja Theory. Capcom has more different series going at the same time now than they have in quite some time. While "Devil May Cry 4" was a decent game, I could certainly see some things in "Heavenly Sword" that might have made somebody at Capcom take notice, so perhaps they thought it better to let Ninja Theory give them a new take on it. I thought that Capcom had already taken a big risk last time, by having you play a substantial portion of "Devil May Cry 4" as someone other than Dante (you play as Nero up to the game's midpoint), but the Devil Bringer weapon that Nero had made for an interesting addition to the game.  The Devil Bringer could bring enemies to you, or it could allow you to grapple to and propel yourself from distant points. However, this weapon was unique to Nero, and Dante had to find his own way to get around.

In the demo of "DmC", Dante has three different weapon sets. His regular weapon set is the sword Rebellion, with his pistols Ebony and Ivory. Hold the R2 button, and you get a large, heavy battle axe called the Arbiter, and a whip-like doodad that pulls things towards you. In the first level of the demo, there are a couple of platforms you have to pull away from a wall before there's enough room to land on it. Hold the L2 button instead and you get a large, light, fast, scythe called Osiris, and a similar whip-like doodad that pulls you toward enemies or platforms. Right out of the gate, I was comfortable with the combat - the only thing that was even the least bit odd was the lack of a 'lock-on' button, but for the most part the game was adept at targeting what you were looking at. If the game ever opted to target a close enemy behind me when I was shooting at something that I was pointed at in the distance, I didn't notice. Perhaps super-hard-core Devil May Cry fans will complain that their 200 hit combos no longer connect because they made some move 2 frames too slow, and since the whole point of the series is 'stylish action' it completely ruins the game, but I find it unlikely. I have found that somebody, somewhere, always manages to find the move combos that were never evident when the game was made. I was actually very impressed with the demo's look and feel. There were lots of architectural similarities to the other Devil May Cry games - the first few streets you walk through wouldn't be out of place in Devil May Cry 2 or 3. Another thing that I was very impressed with was the dynamic landscape. Buildings shove together to trap you, floors pull away revealing a long drop into nothingness, and a church stretches apart while you're trying to walk through it. The feeling that the city itself was attacking you was both unnerving and exhilarating. There are also hidden enemies (well, they're not that hidden) to defeat and keys and doors to find that add to your level completion percentage.  The doors contain the 'Secret Missions' common to the other Devil May Cry games, but since there was an obvious door, I don't really know how 'secret' they are. I did like that it was very easy to start a Secret Mission again - it doesn't kick you outside if you flunk it. You are exactly where you were when the level finished (all the ones I did were timed, I think) and it asks you to press Select to retry it.

The other level in the demo is a boss battle, which was a crazy caterpillar looking thing hanging by some strange tubes in an ancient underground cavern. (I don't think that's the first time a Devil May Cry boss fits that description.) I guess I hadn't noticed the juvenile F-bomb war that permeates the dialogue in the cut scene that precedes the battle since I didn't have the sound turned all the way up the first time. Well, the game is supposed to be... oh wait, "M" is supposed to stand for "Mature". You get to spend a lot of time in the battle swinging from platform to platform as the boss makes them temporarily (or sometimes permanently) uninhabitable. The close quarters combat with the large boss feels satisfying - smacking its four hands off the platform with the axe to get it to let go is fun. (Just watch out for the puke - it stings a little.)

So, I would say - Yes, it looks a little different. That's not a bad thing. The controls felt very responsive to me, but I would consider myself an enthusiast and not an expert. I stopped caring what color Dante's hair was about a second after I swung the sword in the game the first time. It is not hurt by the Unreal engine in my opinion, as the dynamic levels are a welcome new addition that helps with the immersion in the game. It feels like Devil May Cry, perhaps in a way that I hadn't gotten to do since DMC3. Ninja Theory has done a great job at merging new gameplay ideas with old ones and still feeling faithful to the series. My only actual complaint is that I would rather have the older slightly cheesy double entendre-laden dialogue over a barrage of F-Bombs. (Proof that I'm turning into SuperGeezerCube, perhaps.)

Also, while you're out shopping now, don't forget to check out the Nintendo kiosk at your local retailers.  Most locations have their WiiU displays out now, and you can check out what's up with Nintendo's new machine. When I saw our local one last weekend, there were no playable demos yet, but there were trailers for quite a number of games, and you can see how the Wii U touchscreen controller feels in your hands and how it is to operate.  You can even use the stylus to swipe between games and then select a trailer to play.

No comments: