Thursday, January 17, 2013

Games on the AVE: Gamespot reviews DEVIL MAY CRY

also available for PS3 & PC





There's a point in DmC: Devil May Cry where everything just falls into place, a point where--after being mollycoddled through hours of gentle combat--you're finally let off the leash. And at that point, chaos ensues. The gates of hell are opened, once-timid demons become tremendous horrors, and Dante transforms into a fighter of glowing theatrics and tense technical wizardry. Immense, over-the-top combos flow from the fingertips, unleashing all manner of visually enticing carnage with a precise, fluid feel. So entertaining is the combat, in fact, that it's easy to overlook what a wonderful achievement DmC is as a whole.
But to do so would do the game a great disservice. The story, for instance, is light-years ahead of previous games in the series. Where they were schlocky, B-movie tales of adolescent fantasy, DmC has a sense of restraint, and maturity. Not that it's entirely evident from the off. A slew of half-naked bodies and raucous rock music make for a less-than-enticing introduction to the new, modern-day Dante's world, where he lives the playboy lifestyle of booze, nonstop parties, and sleazy sex. It's only with the arrival of the hardened psychic Kat and the emergence of a frightening demon horde that Dante, and the story, begins to grow up.
What follows is a tale of evil, world domination, and love that weaves in touches of conspiracy theory and religious dogma to great effect. There's no denying that there's still a drop of Devil May Cry lunacy to it all, particularly in Dante's cheesy quips, but underneath that over-the-top exterior lies heart. There are real moments of drama and excitement that are coupled with some well-realised characters that walk a fine line between good and evil. It helps that they're backed by a terrific voice cast--especially the truly frightening villain Mundis--that delivers even the maddest of dialogue with the utmost sincerity.
DmC's greater focus on storytelling comes at expense of some freedom, but the game is no worse off for it. Gone is the tedious backtracking and repetition of Devil May Cry 4, replaced with an adventure that--for the most part--propels you forward at a breakneck pace. One moment you're escaping a blood-red city that's folding and crumbling around you, and the next you're infiltrating the offices of a famed TV network where the earthly world and that of Limbo have collided in an explosion of vicious demons and ghastly black ooze that drips from every wall.
Such is the variety in your adventure that it does an admirable job of glossing over the linear nature of the story. It helps, of course, that the action is exciting too. Dante is a man with some impressive physical skills that are augmented by an equally impressive range of deadly weaponry. Initially that weaponry takes the form of Rebellion, a sword with a medium speed and attack range that serves as the bedrock for combos.
With just a few taps it's easy to perform simple combos that cut a sharp path through enemies and launch them into the air where you can deal more damage before they explode into a wonderfully satisfying mess of gory blobs. It's not long before you reach the limits of what you can do with a single weapon, though, which makes the time it takes to gather new ones a tad grating. Still, once the game finally lets you loose with a bigger arsenal, the combat takes a rewarding turn. What opens up before you is a vast set of moves that can be smoothly chained together for some technically impressive and oh-so-gorgeous-looking combos.
The combat is done in a way that cleverly plays to the strengths of each weapon, and that of your opponents' weapons. For instance, lighter, angelic weapons like the Osiris scythe are geared towards juggling enemies in the air and dealing spinning swipes that take out large groups all at once. Heavier, demonic weapons like the Arbiter axe focus on all-out strength, pummelling demons into the ground with a hefty brute force, albeit at the expense of attack speed. Combine the two, and you can knock out enemies with the swifter, lighter weapon before neatly finishing them off with a deadly demonic blow.
As you gain more-advanced weapons and abilities, the combos that are open to you become more complex. Chains that let you pull yourself towards enemies, or pull them towards you, result in some explosive combos that see Dante zipping elegantly between enemies, dealing out brutal punishment between each throw of a chain. Then there are Dante's guns, Ebony and Ivory, which are ideal for dishing out short, sharp bursts of bullets and filling in the gaps between other attacks. Combine your moves, and the combat turns into a harmonious ballet of sword slicing, swinging, and all-out carnage that's not only impressive to look at, but delightful to perform too.

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