DmC: Devil May Cry
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Rating: M for Mature
You mustn't judge a book by its cover. Or a man by his haircut.
Make no mistake, Dante -- the sword-swinging, gunslinging anti-hero of DmC: Devil May Cry -- is a d-bag. We know this because of the way he talks, the way he dresses, and that hair. Somewhere between Channing Tatum and Justin Bieber.
Also, it's brown. Brown! Anyone who's played a Devil May Cry game -- there've been four instalments in the popular hack-n'-slash-n'-shoot series since it debuted in 2001 -- knows Dante has white hair. This is... hair-esy!
But when Superman can be reinvented on film twice in the span of seven years, Dante certainly isn't safe. Thus, here's the new face of Devil May Cry. And although you'll want to punch it from time to time, chances are you'll ultimately like it a lot.
With Devil May Cry creator Capcom handing the reins over to U.K.-based Ninja Theory, developers of the excellent Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, DmC is a reboot in the vein of J.J. Abrams' take on Star Trek: fresh, modern and newbie-friendly, reintroducing familiar characters in new settings while retaining the classic DNA.
DmC serves as an origin story of sorts for cocky dudebro/sword enthusiast Dante, as he discovers he's the lovechild of an angel and a demon. This gives him the power to enter Limbo, a parallel layer of reality in which buildings twist into menacing shapes, monsters crawl out of the shadows and a soft drink factory's vats are revealed to be the guts of a 1,200-year-old puking demon. Bottoms up!
With the help of his similarly powerful brother Vergil and a witch who uses graffiti cans in lieu of magic wands, Dante must wage war on Mundus, a soul-sucking demon in the form of a banking tycoon (obviously) who controls people through a Fox-like media empire and a drug-laced energy drink. Red Bull gives you... horns?
The most important and fundamental thing DmC gets right is its combat: slick, visceral, challenging and often giddy. I recall hitting a point in the game when I thought the ever-increasing number of attack combinations and weapon options was just too much to absorb, as I got repeatedly pummelled by a handful of middling-strength demons.
Then, on the very next encounter, everything clicked and I became a whirling, leaping, demon-juggling machine, cutting a calculated dance of death through a crowd of enemies and achieving an "SSS" rating on the fight, the highest possible.
Beyond the near-perfect controls and satisfying combat, Ninja Theory has clearly sweated the game's atmosphere and visuals. Just as one brain-bending level starts to feel familiar, the next introduces something even more grimly fascinating. Especially memorable is an upside-down version of Limbo City that Dante must navigate, culminating in a boss battle against a demonic media baron that mixes commentary with monster murder. Clever stuff.
Dante's new coiffure may take some getting used to, but DmC: Devil May Cry revisits and reinvigorates a familiar franchise with visual flair, technical prowess and twisted humour. Don't judge. Just play.