Itís easy to feel betrayed when a game series you like changes direction, or appears to reboot itself to a new crowed by reassessing its personality and getting a new hairstyle. Itís also very easy to accept this new persona if you werenít aware of it before, or perhaps even fond of, and canít quite grasp why those that knew it before are so critical of the new personality and how it just isnít
who it appears to be.
Iíve recently found myself on both sides of the argument and itís confusing; very confusing.
The game Iím pouting my lip and stamping my foot over is the reboot of Tomb Raider. Essentially, what has been shown so far is an Uncharted style third-person shooter starring a Lara Croft who is bashed around, felt up and sets men on fire while thrusting a knife in the neck of a straggler. Itís grim stuff. And to think it was only a few years a go in the fantastic Tomb Raider Underworld I was mostly exploring coral reefs, and the jungles of Thailand, amongst other things. Crystal Dynamics stated themselves that the game had 80% exploring and 20% combat, and they werenít lying. For that it was a breath of fresh air. It was like they learned a combat heavy game isnít quite right from Tomb Raider Legends and made two great follow ups in Tomb Raider Anniversary and Underworld; games that celebrated themselves as puzzle/platformers.
To see such a series conform to the type of third-person shooter gameplay that is just like a number of other existing seriesí is ultimately disappointing.
I may still try it. It may not be as itís getting marketed, and I trust Crystal Dynamics to put together a decent game.
The game where I take moral high ground, looking down at the gaping mouths of crying fans is with Ninja Theoryís Devil May Cry or DmC as they like to call it, those cool cats.
Iíve always liked the Devil May Cry games but Dante and DMCís style was never the draw. I liked it purely for the gameplay. The gameís stories and characters were never something I cared a great deal about as it just came across as a little overly kitsch to me, or at least kitsch in a way that didnít appeal and I never identified with it. Just the context of running around a castle and fighting monsters with a tight combat system was where I found the entertainment. Iíd play it pretending it was a good 3D Castlevania game to be honest.
Iíd watch the cutscenes in old DMC where heíd exchange corny trash talk with the demons and Iíd sigh and say ďAye, alright, Dante.Ē
So thatís probably why I welcome a new take on the series, especially when the credits rolled on DMC4 and I remember thinking to myself ďYep, that was fun but unless there is a change I donít think Iíll be getting DMC5.Ē
So now the change is actually happening and it was after seeing one trailer
in particular I realised it could be more interesting than I was ever expecting.
DmC seems to draw from an interesting idea that existed in the Devil May Cry anime. I remember seeing one episode where Dante comes across a biker gang where something seems to be encouraging them to ride as fast as they can and appear to cause there own death.
Basically, in the anime the demons are physical manifestations of human traits. This speeding demon is a manifestation of that desire to push yourself to the limit. Now, old DMC the game didnít really have this, or at least I never picked up on it, where as DmC does.
In this trailer for DmC the in-game media personify NuDante in much the same way the sillier real life media like to personify the young underclass in the UK and Ninja Theory seem to be looking at whatís immediately around them and lampooning it. It does seem to be a commentary on the manipulative media and how they portray the youth cultures that donít get heard.
Basically, this sort of take on the series reminds me quite a bit of Killer7. I think DmC is actually quite Suda-esque going by what has been shown. The Persona games also deal with this kind of symbolism in a similar way. Dare I say the story is more Japanese than the original?
But Iíve been told itís just not Devil May Cry regardless of whether it turns out to be good or not. Itís ďwrongĒ for the series. If Marioís next adventure on WiiU was a gritty post-apocalyptic game everyone would be complaining. I guess that would be terrible.
Hang on. No.
This situation is the same as that at all. You canít look at these two Devil May Cry games and see them as different as the exaggerated as the Mario scenario. Taking a step back and looking at things in the bigger context shows they arenít as different as that. But what would be similar is say if Naughty Dog were drafted in to make a Mario game, and they go in a Pixar style direction, perhaps not making a platformer as tight as traditional Mario games (maybe plays like Jak & Daxter) but flesh out the universe in their own way with charming cinematics and what not. I wouldnít be against that at all, and thatís what DmC is like to me.
There is a fear of change which I believe we need to get over. I need to get over it too with Tomb Raider (though Tomb Raider is still CD developed). When a new studio makes a game for an existing series itís like a cover version. Whatís the point of a cover of a song that just sounds like the original? What if Soft Cell didnít change a thing when they covered Gloria Jonesí Tainted Love? What if Scissor Sisters didnít turn Pink Floydís classic rock anthem Comfortably Numb into a melancholic, 4am disco track? Itís just not as interesting. Itís just not as creative.
What Iím trying to say is we shouldnít be setting the rules of what a series is in stone. DmC could have been a new IP, but like a cover version drawing new experiences or meaning out of an established work is, or can be, an interesting thing in itself.