Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop, and lives up in Wisconsin. And yes. We get that much snow. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.
Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.
ĒWhen a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural.Ē
That is a line spoken by Raís Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) in 2005ís Batman Begins. I like it because I think it applies to the impending future of the video game industry pretty well. Over the last decade, roughly, the video game industry has grown tremendously and some would argue that it has even grown too much for its own good. With all of the development studios recently being shut down and companies losing money, it seems like the ďpurging fireĒ has already begun. Now while some of the recent hardships of the industry could be equated to small campfires gone unattended, the potential next generation Xbox could be the catalyst that turns this into a full blown forest fire that would make Smokey the Bear himself shit his pants.
And I have to be perfectly honest; Iím kind of looking forward to it.
Maybe I just want to watch the world burn or something, who knows
For those of you who arenít up to date on current gaming events; there have been rumors floating around for a while now (from a multitude of websites) that the next generation Xbox system (Nextbox/Xbox 720) will be an ďalways-onlineĒ system, and also potentially prevent use of used-games. Pardon me for not directly linking you to a few of these articles, Iím just going to treat you like adults and assume you know how to use Google. In short youíll need to have a persistent internet connection in order to start up or continuously play your future Xbox games, similar to what Diablo III or SimCity have done (or any MMORPG). Factor in these rumors with the recent ďjokingĒ comments from Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth and it sure sounds like the internet is a requirement for your future Xbox gaming needs.
Most people are obviously inclined to talk about all of the bad that will come from an always-online Xbox; such as what happens if your internet connection goes out, what about ISP data caps, what will happen to the used game market, what if you live in an area that simply has poor internet speeds or no internet at all. I, however, am trying to look at all of the positive that can come from one of the major systems going all-in on an always-online console.
No, I am not about to defend an always-online Xbox. The positive Iím referring to is that this might be a great opportunity to purge a great deal of bad things from the gaming industry all at once; in essence to nuke the entire site from orbit (itís the only way to be sure).
Yep! Looks good to me, so who wants a pizza guys?
An internet-required Xbox will likely be a polarizing item in the industry, especially if there are other non-internet-required systems available on the market (the Wii-U and PlayStation 4). The big time publishers that claw for every coin will probably embrace an always-online anti-used-game system, claiming that it embraces the future and combats against things like piracy (even though it doesnít). Iím not going to beat around the bush; Iím talking about the EAs, Activisions, and Capcoms of the world. While these big time companies will obviously still accept the non-always-online counterparts theyíll probably put forth an extra effort to sing praises and put emphasis on the Nextbox (to a certain degree they already do that with the Xbox 360).
Meanwhile, smaller publishers and developers who might not be as supportive of such practices (the people I politely refer to as ďpeople with common senseĒ) could flock to the more consumer friendly options. This would also include the indie game market, which in general seems to have already fled Microsoft in favor of the PC world. The PlayStation 4 seems to be trying to appeal to the indie market as well, so that would also be a potential nice landing pad for them.
Therefore, on the side of embracing the always-online Xbox future weíd have the EAs & Activisions of the world, while on the other side we haveÖ well, most of the other people who arenít actively trying to ruin the industry. Obviously opinions differ on whether or not you consider EA/Activision/Capcom/etc the ďbane of gamingĒ, but Iím just running on the ďcommon beliefĒ standard with this. Hopefully, you can see where Iím starting to go with this. Assuming the malignant tumors of the industry go all-in on the consumer-inconvenient console (which seems like a logical marriage) then what happens if the Nextbox doesnít exactly set the world on fire sales wise, or what if consumers simply reject the system?
At least the next console war will be shorter, right?
There are a large amount of hardships that a system like this potential Nextbox would face especially up against more consumer-friendly options. For one, consumers might flat out not want to own a system that comes with an internet-required option as well as the hidden cost of the $60 required for Xbox Live. If the no-used-game rumor ends up being true, that could make the system even harder to sell to consumers given how many people seem to take advantage of the used game market. Obviously there will be some people who buy the system regardless of its downsides (just like there are still people who pay money to watch Resident Evil movies), but thereís still a lot of educated consumers youíd need to sell this game to.
An Xbox that doesnít play used games would also face hardships from retailers who may refuse to stock the system, or at least do what they can to discourage consumers from purchasing it. Stores that benefit from reselling used games (the Gamestops and Best Buys of the world) I doubt would be thrilled at the idea of selling a system that has the potential to cannibalize the store's own income. Remember the PSPGo? That was essentially a non-used game system, look at how well that went.
If you want to look at the class half full, there can definitely be positives to be found from an always-online Xbox. Just look at the things I listed above, if the entities that are contributing to the downfall of the industry embrace a system that itself might fall flat on its face when it hits store shelves then we could essentially destroy multiple birds with one very mighty stone. Obviously I donít like the idea of people losing their jobs because of a system flopping or the industry crashing, but to be honest something like this needs to happen. The long prophesized second crash of the gaming industry is more or less inevitable, but optimistically we could witness the crash in one clean and organized ball of fire.
I wasn't always online, but f*ck used games right! Wait... why wont you sell me!?
At the very least an always-online / anti-used-game console could be looked at as a great opportunity for gamers to put their foot down and take a stand against bullshit of this nature. Gamers can stomach varying degrees of crap from the industry, whether it be things like online passes or DLC, but a system like the rumored Nextbox is something that has both immediate high costs as well as long term costs, and these are things I canít imagine that even the average gamer is willing to tolerate.
Voting with your wallet does work. If the rumored Nextbox does become a reality and you want no part of it, then take your money elsewhere. The implementation of such an obviously consumer-inconvenient system and its subsequent rejection would be something that would most likely alter the future of the video game industry, as the big companies would then know there are limits to what they can attempt. I know a lot of gamers donít even want to see this rumored system become a reality, however sometimes things need to get worse before they can get better.
Ten years ago if you would have told me that Raiden, the protagonist from Metal Gear Solid 2, would someday turn out to be more badass than Devil May Cryís Dante I would have laughed you clear out of whatever building we were in.
Yet here we are; Raiden has taken his place among the pantheon of great action characters - and even manages to make cyborg stilettos not look completely stupid.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Platinum Games hack and slash title set in the Metal Gear universe (obviously). It features Raiden, the main character from Metal Gear Solid 2 who was relegated to a supporting role in Metal Gear Solid 4 after being transformed into a badass cyborg ninja.
MGR plays like a midway point between Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden, but at the same time is a bit of a different beast from both of them. Gameplay in MGR revolves around being an efficient murder machine and the combat in MGR is fairly suave and graceful in a way that befits a cyborg ninja. The game also focuses a lot on a parry system which is performed by hitting the light attack button and moving the left joystick towards your enemy simultaneously, think of it like how Soul Calibur parries work.
The parry itself has a fairly large window for deflecting incoming attacks, so prematurely activating your parry will still usually reward you with a successful deflection of your enemies attack. However timing parries near perfectly rewards you with the chance to perform an execution maneuver on a foe, which is effectively a very brief quick time event that allows you to finish off your opponent. Timing a parry appropriately will also stun any enemies who are also in the immediate vicinity of you, giving you an ample opportunity to finish off multiple foes simultaneously.
Mastering the parry system isnít entirely necessary if youíre on normal mode & are only concerned with beating the game. However, if you want to challenge the gameís harder difficulties or want to get the highest ratings possible on each mission then learning the parry system will be vital.
Youíll also gather secondary weapons such as rocket launchers, grenades, or homing missiles during the course of the game as well. Normally you wonít need these weapons very often, but theyíre useful when taking on aerial enemies or when you want to do a little crowd control. After defeating the main bosses of the game, known as the Winds of Destruction, youíll also get their weapons as well (dubbed unique weapons) and when equipped theyíll take the place of your heavy attacks.
These unique weapons are quite interesting and useful; however I honestly didnít use them as much as I probably should. This is primarily because MGR doesnít have any real time weapon swapping option similar to Devil May Cry 4 or Bayonetta. Weapon switching in MGR is handled by activating a sub-menu via the d-pad and navigating to the appropriate weapon, similar to a traditional Metal Gear title.
Iím a bit torn on whether or not Iím a fan of how switching weapons is handled. On one hand, it forces you to plan ahead a little bit instead of just rushing in headstrong. Plus, swapping in this manner is rather in line with typical Metal Gear titles. However, it seems like there would be more depth to the combat if I could quickly summon my polearm or sai at will.
But donít let my previous sentence fool you, thereís plenty of depth to Risingís combat. The way combos can be strung together in this game is fantastic. There are a lot of small nuances to learn in order to become the most efficient ninja possible. For a quick example, I discovered that if I do a dodge mid-combo, I continue the combo upon completion of the dodge. I shouldn't go super far into the details of what makes this game's combat so fun, this review's already long enough.
Another aspect of Risingís combat is blade mode. Itís an ability that slows time down to a near-stop and allows you slice at your opponents at will. This is used in two primary ways throughout the game, the first being to disable enemies (such as dismemberment or destroying armor). After enemies take certain amounts of damage their limbs or chunks of armor will turn a blue color, this is the signal that said item is now vulnerable to being sliced off. I found this to be very helpful when managing large crowds of enemies, as sometimes disabling a foe is more efficient than trying to finish him off entirely when there are bigger fish to be fried.
The second use of blade mode is to perform a ďzandatsuĒ. The zandatsu is when you slice open a specific area of an enemy in blade mode thatís marked with a red square. This exposes the enemyís ďcoreĒ and allows Raiden to grab it in order to recharge his fuel cells and health. The in-game explanation for this is that Raidenís body needs electrolytes in order to maintain itself, so I just pretend that every bad guy in the game has a spine made of fluorescent Gatorade.
Iím a big fan of the zandatsu because it effectively turns all of your enemies into walking health items, and because of that it encourages you to stay on the offensive instead of hiding behind a corner and then healing yourself. It actually reminds me of how executions healed you in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, another game I'm super fond of. Since health items can't be bought at all in this game mastering the zandatsu becomes vital in order to stay alive, especially in the later levels of the game when the in-level health item drops become even less frequent.
I should also make note that this game does have a camera that gets a little crazy from time to time. But truth be told MGR has the same camera issues that a good deal of other action titles tend to have as well. If you use your lock on appropriately you can dance around these issues fairly easily I found out. Oh, and also try to not get pinned near a wall (which is something you should be avoiding regardless of camera issues).
The amount of enemies to fight in MGR is adequate. I do wish there were a few more different types of enemies, however I definitely didnít feel as if MGR was too short on the enemy count. There are typical cyborg soldiers, plus variations of them that will carry hammers, katanas, riot shields, or be airborne. The Gekko & Dwarf Gekko from Metal Gear Solid 4 both return as well, along with a few other bipedal robots for you to slash away.
Along with the typical grunts, the game boasts a series of bosses that are absolutely fantastic to fight. Iíve said multiple times in the past that the best bosses almost always seem to be humanoid, MGR continues to prove that right. These are probably the best bosses from any Platinum title thus far and are some of the best bosses in Metal Gear overall. No, they arenít going to surpass the likes of Psycho Mantis or The End, however theyíre still plenty memorable.
Rising is a plenty challenging game. I will say that I thought Normal mode was a tad on the easy side, however there were still moments on that difficulty where things managed to get a bit out of hand and send me to the game over screen. So for an action game veteran like me, that's a good sign. If youíre somewhat new to hack and slash games I think normal mode will be satisfactorily challenging to you, but if youíre a veteran to hack and slashers then Iíd perhaps recommend starting on hard mode. Revengeance isnít entirely on the Ninja Gaiden tier of ďcrushing-your-will-to-liveĒ hard (which is a good thing, if you ask me), but itís also not ďbabyís first video gameĒ easy like DmC. The game seems to know its audience and has a difficulty designed for them.
One final note to throw in about MGRís gameplay. One thing Iíve noticed in a good deal of Platinum titles is that they do a fantastic job of making you, the player, feel like a powerful badass the entire way through your experience, and Rising does the same. Other games have a habit of starting you off super powered only to have something happen that causes you to get massively depowered quickly (see: God of War), whereas Rising starts you off feeling like a supreme badass and building things up from there. This game starts with you completely maiming a Metal Gear RAY and only goes up from there.
Metal Gear Risingís story is a fairly straight forward affair by Metal Gear standards. Without jumping into potential spoilers, the main plot of the story revolves around a group of bad guys who are attempting to revert the worldís status quo back to what it was before the fall of The Patriots in Metal Gear Solid 4. In short, theyíre trying to reignite the war economy. Thereís also a subplot involving Raiden accepting his past as a killer, nicknamed ďJack the RipperĒ, whilst also trying to prevent people from going through the same life he had to live. The fairly straight forward story is a bit refreshing, in my opinion, especially considering Raidenís two previous appearances in the franchise came in arguably the two most convoluted entries (MGS2 & MGS4).
Revengeanceís story isnít going to be winning much in the ways of awards, however the story is pretty interesting and did an admirable job of keeping me engaged with what was going on. The writing was fairly tight and there wasnít anything that immediately jumped out at me as a glaring story issue or plot hole (if you guys found any, please let me know). And in terms of being a Metal Gear game, MGR seems appropriate as well. The plot and characters all felt very Metal Gear-ish and nothing that happens in the story really seemed out of place for the franchises universe overall.
In terms of tone MGR is neither campy nor is it really playing anything straight. The story is in that Metal Gear semi-serious style where the people involved in this story seem to know itís a video game to some extent. Things do get a bit over the top in spots during this gameís story, like suplexing a Metal Gear Ray in the opening mission, but when you factor in some of Raidenís feats in MGS4 the stuff he does in MGR doesn't seem out of place.
The only potential con I can really think of for the story is how someone would react to it if they werenít already familiar with the Metal Gear universe. The game doesnít reference past titles that often but it does occasionally throw out quick references to things like The Patriots, which could confuse people unfamiliar with the franchise. A very brief ďpreviously on Metal GearĒ type segment wouldnít have hurt, however if someone jumped into this game unfamiliar with Metal Gear I donít think they would be overly lost and any minor things could be solved by heading to Wikipedia.
The gameís voice acting is admirable as well. Yes the dialogue can get a little hokey at times but the cast seems pretty into their roles and donít feel like theyíre just running through lines off a script. The only character who really bugged me at all was the boy named George (however, the way his subtitles are done gave me a bit of a laugh).
Artistically & graphically, MGR looks respectable. Itís not the best looking game out there but itís definitely far from the worst looking. It effectively boils down to certain textures here and there look ďmehĒ while others look exceptional. Overall it definitely has the look of a game set in the Metal Gear universe and everything looks like how Iíd expect the world to look a few years after MGS4. I was legitimately impressed by how authentic all of the Metal Gear aspects of this game felt. Rising also runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, and only seems to ever dip below 60 when the most rare extreme shit starts to happen (honestly I only noticed like two or three momentary drops in framerate during my entire time with the game).
I need to also comment about the gameís soundtrack quickly as well. Soundtracks for Platinum titles generally are pretty good, if not great, and Risingís soundtrack is fantastic. The tracks seem generally guitar heavy with bits of techno mixed in along with lyrical bits as well. In boss fights most noticeably youíll notice these tracks build up as the fights reach their later stages, and it really adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game as a whole.
The gameís length has been something thatís been mentioned in a lot of reviews and comments as well. Assuming you donít skip cutscenes, this game is definitely longer than 5 hours and anyone who tells you otherwise is blatantly lying to you. My first playthrough of this game was about 8 1/2 hours in length, and I still didnít listen to a large amount of the available codec conversations. Watching all of the cutscenes, listening to all of the codecs, and playing the actual game will run you about 9 hours if not a little more, which is (kind of sadly) still longer than a lot of other games out there right now. The in game timer for Revengeance doesnít include time spent watching cinematics, listening to codec conversations, or even deaths/continues. And trust me, this is very much a Metal Gear game in terms of having a lot of exposition in its cutscenes.
If you skip cutscenes and try to speed run your way through this game, yes obviously the game is going to feel short. But you know what? What game doesn't feel short when you try your hardest to get it done as fast as possible? I can beat Metal Gear Solid 4 as fast as I can beat Revengeance, if I really try.
In general Revengeance is a game thatís a little rough here and there, but overall has such a raw addictive fun factor to it that those small items get overshadowed pretty easily. When I wasnít playing Metal Gear Rising the main thing on my mind was ďgod damnit I really want to be playing Metal Gear RisingĒ, and I was genuinely excited to come home and play the game. Thatís a feeling I very rarely get from a lot of modern video games, and itís a sign for me that said game is doing something very well. This game made me feel like a kid again while playing it, and thatís a compliment I very rarely throw around (partially because Iím not even 30 yet and I donít like using sayings that make me sound old).
Revengeance is pure challenging fun, its story and characters are likable, has a ton of replay value in terms of unlockables and VR missions, and still has the soul of a Metal Gear game. Platinum Games is a studio Iíve liked for a while now, but this game may have officially vaulted them up into the upper echelon of my personal favorite developers. I truly do hope we get a Revengeance 2, because this is a spin-off series that I really want to see continue onward.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance reminded me why I love video games.
Really, if you have any interest in this game at all then buy it.
I went and picked up Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance last night (obviously), and after putting in a little bit of time with it I decided Iíd do a quick first impressions blog before inevitably doing a full on review of the game.* Obviously Iím not done with the game yet, but I wanted to cover a few things. I also kind of wrote this on a whim because I originally wanted to share my opinions about this game with someone I knew was a fan of hack and slashers & Metal Gear titles, only to be told that I apparently wasn't a reliable source of information for this game - for reasons that were never explained. So I decided to share my opinion with people who actually give a shit about what I have to say.
Time is on my side One thing thatís being bounced around in a few reviews for this game is that itís a 5ish hour long game. After my first sit-down with this game, I can confidently say that thereís no way this is only a 5 hour game. I put 4 hours of real-time gameplay into Rising last night and I still feel like I have a good ways to go in the game, and my actual in game clock only said Iíd logged about 2 hours of game time so far. The game feels like it's on pace to be about an 8-9 hour title.
I think a lot of reviewers simply looked at the game time clock that they get in the game and used that as their basis for how long this game is. The problem is that the in game clock you get for missions and such doesnít take into account the time spent with cut-scenes, codec conversations, and apparently doesnít factor in deaths/continues, so itís only accumulating raw gameplay time from checkpoint to checkpoint. If Rising is 5 or so hours of pure gameplay then I can be perfectly content with that. Hell, if you skip the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4 you can beat that game in even less than five hours.
Storytime So far Risingís story isnít going to win any awards, but I can safely say that the story isnít bad. Itís got appropriate amounts of Kojima-ish cheese, a little bit of Platinum cheese, and by Metal Gear standards is actually a pretty straight forward story. To be perfectly honest having a straight forward Metal Gear story actually feels rather refreshing, especially considering that Raidenís last starring role was in the overly intricate Metal Gear Solid 2.
Everything so far still feels like an extension of the Metal Gear universe as well. Nothing has stood out so far that really made me go ďthis doesnít belong hereĒ. Thereíve been a few moments that made me smile in the same silly ways Devil May Cry 3 or Vanquish did, and in general Rising seems to openly embrace the fact that the Metal Gear universe is pretty preposterous and over the top. No complaints will come from me for that. And so far Risingís story doesnít feel as insultingly derivative or poorly structured as DmCís was.
Time to play the game Iím enjoying the hell out of the actual gameplay so far. Iím not going to go into too much detail, but thereís a depth and intricacy to this game that Iím very much enjoying so far. Iím also noticing a bunch of things that have been polished up from the demo as well.
A few people have expressed camera control issues; honestly I havenít really encountered any glaring camera issues so far. Iím wondering if the people who are having slight issues with the gameís camera are using the lock-on mechanic at all. Iíve been using that a majority of the time in combat and perhaps thatís whatís been keeping my camera issues at bay.
Iíve heard a couple people complain about the lack of a dodge at the start of the game and how the dodge is activated in this game. Yeah, it would be nice if the dodge was a tad easier to execute, but honestly I havenít really had a situation in the game where Iíve needed to use it. The game feels a lot more structured around using your parry instead of relying on a dodge like most other hack and slashers out there. The only time Iíve even remotely considered using the dodge at all was when an enemy grenade was thrown into my vicinity, however using Ninja Run generally seems to be the better option in this scenario since you get out of the way just as fast and also deflect bullets away from you.
Iím currently doing my first run through of the game on normal mode. Normal mode seems a tad on the easy side for me, granted Iím a wily old veteran of these types of games at this point. However, normal difficulty still has moments where things can quickly get out of hand and get rather challenging. Iíve seen the ďGame OverĒ screen a few times already, so the game thus far I guess feels adequately challenging and I look forward to eventually challenging the harder difficulties.
Overall Iím having a blast with Revengeance thus far and as of right now Iíd give it a recommendation. If you really want to play the DmC vs MGR card, my primary input is that thus far Iíve had more fun in MGR than DmC. If anything happens in the later portions of the game that changes my opinion Iíll be sure to point it out come my inevitable full review of the game. But thus far I feel like I spent my $60 bucks well.
*If youíre wondering where my ďofficialĒ review for DmC is, to be perfectly honest Iíve gotten super hung up on my review of the gameís story. The problem is that DmCís story has kind of a similar problem that The Dark Knight Rises has, the more you think about the story the more you realize itís an absolute mess.
Ninja Theoryís DmC has been a resounding dud sales wise and doesnít seem to have resonated with the wallets of gamers. Itís put up franchise low numbers and Capcomís own revised expectations for the game now sit at 1.2 million copies, meaning it will almost assuredly be easily the worst selling Devil May Cry title ever (by far) and a far cry from their original hopes that this game could pull in God of War level numbers. When looking at the weekly drop-offs in sales numbers for the game and the upcoming tsunami of bigger titles in February and March, DmC might have to scratch and claw in order to get close to that marker (heck, DmC hitting even one million sales is still a bit of a longshot). DmC will likely end up getting outsold by its lower budget cousin Dragons Dogma, which was (perhaps fittingly) developed by the team that made the previous three Devil May Cry games.
This is somewhat of a follow up blog to an earlier blog of mine where I predicted that DmC would be a failure in the eyes of Capcom. However, I honestly did not expect this game to be a complete flop in general.
Now before you complain that itís only been a month since DmCís release just take note of two things. Firstly, DmC couldnít do in a month what Devil May Cry 4 did in a week Ė sell over a million copies. This is despite the fact that DmC had half of January almost entirely to itself and that Devil May Cry 4 had a much smaller install base to sell to. Secondly, by the time this blog is posted Dead Space 3, Sly Cooper, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, & God of War: Ascension will all have been released or be close to release. In short DmCís time to make money is definitely over, two games that are direct competition and a general slew of other big title games are going to take money before DmC can get to it.
So what went so wrong with DmC? By genre standards, Devil May Cry was always one of the top sellers and since Ninja Theory is a darling to critics it was destined to get positive reviews. Admittedly I thought DmC was a pretty mediocre and forgettable game but even Iím stunned by how poorly the game is selling, I figured the Devil May Cry franchise name alone would carry the game to a cool million sales. In light of this, what does the future hold for the Devil May Cry franchise and Ninja Theory? Lets talk about some potential things that might have & might not have caused this to happen.
What soured the milk?
Change we didnít believe in? Thereís a very strong case to be made that rebooting/re-imagining the Devil May Cry franchise was a completely unnecessary thing. The complaints people had with Devil May Cry 4 could have easily been remedied with a sequel and a little more time in the oven development wise, because DMC4 was a bit of a rushed game. Considering that modern entertainment is reboot happy in general, rebooting a pretty healthy Devil May Cry franchise could have scared off potential customers who feared that the reboot was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
On top of that, there were simply people out there who didnít want to see the original Dante pushed aside or replaced. There were a large number of fans who were losing something they cared about regardless of how well DmC might have turned out. Yes, you can always use the tired argument of ďif they want that they can play the old gamesĒ, but thatís not the point. The point was that those fans wanted that version to continue, and lost interest in something that wasnít that. I canít fault anybody for not being interested in something if it doesnít feature the things they care about.
Capcom, your reputation precedes you Capcomís reputation hasnít been the most stellar in recent years, and a lot of long time Capcom fans have begun to feel disillusioned to the publisher due to Capcomís recent more money-hungry tactics and general mistreatment of numerous key franchises. While people widely enjoyed Street Fighter 4, they didnít so much enjoy having to repurchase the same game in the forms of Super SF4 or SSF4 Arcade Edition. Marvel vs Capcom 3 fans watched as UMvC3 came out and rendered their original game obsolete. Mega Man fans have watched the franchise generally be forgotten since Mega Man 10. Most recently Resident Evil fans watched a survival-horror franchise get morphed into a poorly designed action title in the form of Resident Evil 6.
On top of that, Capcom became notorious for on-disc DLC practices that effectively forced people to re-purchase things they technically already bought and in general jumped onto the same DLC bandwagon everybody else had been on. Even DmC was a victim to this with pre-order weapon skins, Vergilís Downfall DLC being announced well before the release of the game, DLC Dante skins, and even Bloody Palace mode was broken out into a separate DLC bundle. While the Bloody Palace mode was free, a lot of people suspected that it originally was going to be a paid download due to the simple fact that it was broken out into a downloadable in the first place while all previous DMC games had it built in.
This is all a bit ironic as well considering DmC carries a fairly anti-corporate message with it, story wise. Given Capcomís recent ďeffortsĒ, would anybody blame a customer for skipping a Capcom title like DmC simply for hoping that it would somehow humble Capcom a bit?
Alien Nation I think it goes without saying that going forward Ninja Theory should put a gag order on Tameem Antoniades. This guy might be one of the single biggest reasons DmC had poor sales and was the catalyst that turned DmC into the PR nightmare it was. He effectively bit the hand that fed and alienated a good deal of fans.
Antoniades did very little to comfort long time Devil May Cry fans, and for the most part only gave fans more reason to doubt him. From saying the original Dante was no longer cool, to saying he didnít care what fans think, to saying old Dante would get laughed out of bars, to even saying there was nothing wrong with his game despite others pointing out glitches and technical issues. Heck, even the first mission of the game itself throws a jab at long time Devil May Cry fans with the ďnot in a million yearsĒ scene.
I donít mean to go off on a tangent, but I should explain quickly why I think the ďnot in a million yearsĒ sequence was a middle finger to fans. For one, the scene comes completely out of nowhere, secondly the overall sequence thatís happening before and after pretty much stops just for the sake of this scene, three there just happens to be a white wig flying around that looks exactly like old Danteís hair, and finally Dante looks directly at the camera (translation: to the audience) to say his line. It bugs me the same way the ďI think this might be my masterpieceĒ line from Inglorious Basterds bugs me.
Plus, on top of that thereís absolutely no payoff to this what so ever. For example, after he gets the white patch of hair when meeting Phineas or when his hair goes full-white after fighting Vergil, Dante could throw out a quick joke along the lines of ďa million years sure goes by fast these daysĒ, or do something to reference the joke from earlier in the game. But none of that happens, which means either the ďmillion yearsĒ scene was either a direct jab at fans or just a really poorly designed piece of writing (both of which are entirely possibly, given DmCís writing as a whole).
Tameem effectively wrote the book on everything you shouldnít do in order to win over people whose money you want. Tameem even hit Peter Molyneux-ian levels of snake-oil salesman when he said that his story had the potential to be something that transcended the genre and would stand along with the greats of film and literature, only to give us a story that was a poor-manís They Live with as many plot holes and one-dimensional characters as the previous games.
Destructoider Kyousuke Nanbu said it best in a comment to one of my other blogs, between the DmC reveal trailer up to now thereís a lot of beneficial learning to be had regarding the importance of how you treat your fans, how their input is necessary, and how you shouldnít treat them as an expendable commodity.
Itís really not hard to see why the most polarizing Devil May Cry title is going to go down as the worst selling one.
The economy? One thing Iíve heard float around a bit as a reason why DmC has bombed is that the economy isnít as good as it was back when Devil May Cry 4 came out. While yes, the economy five years ago was better, it wasnít that much better and I think economic differences are balanced out by DMC4 coming out at a time when the amount of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners were substantially smaller.
I donít really buy into the economy logic though. It seems like an awfully convenient excuse to blame a very polarizing gameís poor sales on something other than the fact that it was very polarizing. Plus there are lots of other games that have managed to do well in spite of it. The Witcher franchise just hit the 5 million marker, Assassins Creed III did really well, Borderlands 2 sold well, niche games like Dragonís Dogma and Dark Souls did well, Resident Evil 5 sold 8 million copies and Resident Evil 6 pulled in almost 5 million (and was still considered a failure).
Nobody is doubting that the gaming economy is tough right now, but if you ask me DmCís sales problems have very little to do with that issue.
Maybe people just want to be Dante Honestly, itís seemed like Capcom has tried to push aside Dante multiple times already in the history of the franchise. Devil May Cry 2 gave us Lucia, Devil May Cry 4 gave us Nero and made Dante a side character, DmC gave us a new character who was Dante only through name. Itís kind of crazy to think that in the five games that have sported the Devil May Cry title, only two of them feature the franchiseís original star character as the only main character.
Is it possible that people finally got sick of seeing the main character tossed aside?
The last time gamers got a game that fit the bill for what fans of the franchise wanted; a standalone Dante adventure with great combat, we got Devil May Cry 3 Ė the game thatís still considered the best entry in the series by most people. I donít really think this is a big contributor to why DmC didnít sell with consumers, however I thought it was at least worth throwing out there for the sake of conversation.
In the public eye Another point of contention has been that DmC didnít seem to get marketed much by Capcom. Yes, they ran that bad CG add alongside the latest Resident Evil movie, but that only means a whole twelve people probably saw it.
Make no mistake, DmC didnít have much advertisement at all. In fact, its primary form of advertisement was riding the wave of controversy regarding the fact that it was a reboot/reimagining/replacement of the old series (which isnít a good way to advertise, if you ask me). Yet, even with this, I donít really think this was a reason for DmCís bad sales.
Why, you might ask? The answer is because none of the Devil May Cry games have been well advertised ever. DmCís marketing was the same as all of the previous games Ė nonexistent. So while yes this didnít help DmC at all, the other games in the series overcame the same obstacle.
Itís just that time of the year? Did being released in January, after most peoples wallets are shot thanks to the holidays, hurt DmC? My gut reaction leans towards ďnoĒ on this one. In fact with the way the release schedule for other games worked out having a January release should have actually helpedDmC, because it had the month of January almost entirely to itself with the only other somewhat major release being Ni No Kuni.
The secondary reason I lean more towards no for this hypothetical cause is because every other Devil May Cry title, sans the original, has released near this area of the year. Devil May Cry 2 released in late January for North America and Japan, Devil May Cry 3 launched in February for Japan, DMC3: Special Edition launched in January for North America, Devil May Cry 4ís release was late January for Japan and early February everywhere else. DmC technically has the earliest calendar year release for the franchise, but it wasnít substantially different from any of the other recent entries in the series.
Demo May Cry DmC definitely needed a demo in order to try and quell some of the fire that was surrounding the game. However, I think the demo they released might have been the worst possible demo for them to put out and I think the demo came too late to save the game.
The demo for DmC cherry picks two of the moments from the full game that portray Dante at his most unlikable. First being when he slaps the soda can out of that guys hand, generally acting like a jerk. Second being the succubus boss battle, otherwise known as the scene where two characters verbally reenact an episode of The Jerry Springer Show.
The demo for the game gave off the impression that the entire game was written by an immature fifteen year old, something that admittedly isnít far off from the truth in the full game. It also makes the main character look like heís trying way too hard to be an ďedgyĒ profanity ridden character. Itís pretty understandable to see how that might turn people away from the game, especially if they had the knowledge that classic Dante wasnít one for profanity either. This was one of those cases where I think a demo hurt the game more than helped it.
On a side note regarding the demo, it almost felt like a bit of a bait-and-switch regarding the portrayal of Dante. As I previously said, the demo makes him look like an edgy profanity ridden trying-to-hard persona. However in the main game the character is actually, to paraphrase Chris Carter, a much more wooden by-the-numbers western protagonist.
Gaze into the future
Whatís in the future for Ninja Theory? Supposedly Ninja Theory got paid in advance for DmC, so the game itself flopping probably has little immediate concern for Ninja Theoryís future. However, things in the wake of DmC might affect them.
This is the third consecutive Ninja Theory game to underperform financially. Heavenly Sword and Enslaved had built-in excuses for underperforming as they were both new IPs one of which was system-exclusive, now however theyíve fumbled with a well-established franchise. Theyíre eventually going to develop a reputation as being too costly with little return. Thereís also a chance that Tameem & company might be unable to shake free of some of the things they said during DmCís development and ill-will with fans might linger. Other publishers out there might not want to touch a company that hasnít proven to be a cash draw and now has a dicey relationship with some customers.
In fact, letís take a quick moment and analyze potential compatibility with Ninja Theory and some of publishers out there.
2K Ė Itís possible, I donít necessarily see an obvious reason why not.
Activision Ė Ninja Theoryís cost/profit ratio isnít what Activision looks for.
Capcom Ė Capcomís fan base dislikes Ninja Theory the most right now, so I donít think so.
Disney Ė Donít see why not, they didnít jump on much of THQís old stuff though.
EA Ė Ninja Theory doesnít do multiplayer.
Microsoft Ė Ninja Theory seems to only go multiplatform now, so this is out of the question.
Namco Ė Ninja Theory somewhat politely blamed them for Enslaved bombing, so no.
Nintendo Ė See Microsoft.
Sega Ė Probably not, for the same reasons they didnít directly push for Bayonetta 2.
Sony Ė See Microsoft.
SquareEnix Ė Squeenix seems content with their current stable of third parties.
THQ Ė Too soon, guys? Ubisoft Ė Like 2K, I donít really see a reason why this couldnít happen.
Unless Ubisoft comes knocking at their front door, I think Ninja Theory has to suck it up and accept that they arenít AAA developers and will have to earn their stripes by making game for B or C-list publishers before getting another crack at the big time again. The only other outside shot is if Capcom somehow allows them to make a DmC2, which I highly doubt will happen at this point.
Whatís in the future for Devil May Cry? Some are understandably worried that DmCís bust might trigger the worst-case-scenario where Capcom thinks interest in the franchise simply isnít there anymore and throws Devil May Cry into (pardon the pun) Limbo alongside Mega Man and Onimusha.
I highly doubt this is the last weíve heard of the Devil May Cry franchise. Capcom specifically mentioned that they wanted another Devil May Cry game in 2015 (but conveniently never specified if it would be a Ninja Theory sequel), and Capcom kept the door open for the classic series as well albeit they kept that door open after discovering that the initial reception of the reboot trailer was mixed at best.
Personally, I think the franchise still has a ton of juice left in it. Devil May Cry 4 still remains the second highest selling hack-and-slash game this generation, and DmC was still one of the most talked about and debated games for a long time leading up to its release. Heck, I even remember when the Capcom forums ran a vote asking for potential Marvel vs Capcom 3 characters and DMC3ís Vergil got more votes than classic Mega Man. Clearly thereís still a ton of interest left in this franchise.
Jim Sterling left a comment in my previous blog regarding this as well. Iím going to paraphrase, but he said that even Capcom canít be so blind that theyíd not see the reasons why people didnít embrace DmC. On top of that, Capcom would get tons of positive kudos from fans for announcing a proper Devil May Cry 5.
In my opinion the positive reaction fans would have from a DMC5 announcement would probably be enough to outsell DmC alone.
If, or maybe even when, Devil May Cry 5 happens it will be interesting to see what itís like and whoís behind the wheel of it. I would prefer seeing the Devil May Cry 4 team behind the wheel again but supposedly theyíre already developing Dragonís Dogma 2, though Capcom could always pause development on that. If Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance performs well, however, there might be an outside shot that Capcom reaches out to Platinum games Ė meaning a Devil May Cry game being made by some of its original founders. I donít think anybody would frown upon that.
Oh, and get Reuben Langdon back as the voice actor for Dante. In my opinion he was sorely missed in DmC.
Overall the failure of DmC should be remembered as a prime example of why developers and publishers should treat their fans with decency and a certain level of respect. DmCís poor sales could also show that perhaps publishers should do more market research or customer evaluations before investing into something as drastic as DmC, to make sure thereís actually a market for something like this. Thereís an old saying that ďthe customer is always rightĒ, and while the literal meaning of that saying might not always be true the underlying message of it still remains true Ė you shouldnít piss off your customers.
Is DmC's sales flop completely caused by fan backlash? Honestly, I think the only way we'll find out for sure is if Devil May Cry 5 ever happens. There are a lot of potential reasons why this happened, but it's hard to overlook the most obvious ones.
What I hope this isnít remembered for is something along the lines of ďgamers canít accept changeĒ. Iíve been hearing this floating around recently (especially amongst die hard Ninja Theory fans), and it kind of bugs me. Gamers are perfectly open to change, but they also are aware that not all change is good change, and that some changes arenít necessary.
So, fellow Destructoiders, what input do you have on the abrupt fall of DmC: Devil May Cry?
You don't have to dig far to find out I've had my reservations about the Devil May Cry reboot and that I think the end result was a sub-par game, but even with that knowledge I've been told by numerous people that I've done a fantastic job of being pretty level headed and thoughtful about everything regarding the whole fiasco.
Now, I have to admit, I'm a slight bit ticked off.
Obviously the full DmC sales figures aren't available because the US and digital numbers are not available. But what we do know is that the game has been a pretty resounding dud in Europe and Japan. I also highly doubt digital sales are going to make much of a difference overall either due to console digital sales or on Steam. As a matter of fact, just glancing at Steam right now DmC isn't even in their Top 20 for "Top Sellers" and is getting outsold by such heavy hitters as Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.
After I found out that DmC's UK debut was meager compared to Devil May Cry 4 and that DmC's Japan debut was the weakest in franchise history (by the way, fucking called that one), I kind of figured what I'm about to talk about would end up happening. I guess I didn't anticipate how much it would, in fact, piss me off when it actually happened Ė both as a Devil May Cry fan and as a gamer in general.
This article from MVCUK.com talks about DmC's (again) lowered fiscal expectations, and then tries to blame fans for the game's poor sales thus far. He even suggested titling his article ďDevil May Cry fans destroy brand out of spiteĒ.
Here's an excerpt from the, admittedly short, article.
Itís potentially a sad end to a tale brought about very much by the fans themselves. Anyone who played Devil May Cry 4 must surely of seen how desperately the IP needed an injection of new ideas and modernisation Ė which is exactly what the skilful Ninja Theory achieved.
I'll address a more specific thing first. People's issues with Devil May Cry 4 had very little to do with the characters, universe, or the core gameplay of the game. The complaints about Devil May Cry 4 had to do with the fact that the game was rushed and wasn't freaking finished. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that plot points were hastily cut out and that the rehashed second half of the game was a byproduct of time crunching. DMC4 didn't need a fresh injection of new ideas and modernization, DMC4 simply needed more time. Devil May Cry 3 and Devil May Cry 4 were released three years apart almost to the day (with the DMC3 Special Edition in between), and the team had to learn how to build for two new consoles in that time frame.
On to the more should-really-piss-all-of-you-off issue, yes fans are to blame for DmC's floptastic sales so far. But why label the fans as whiny spiteful children? The most common retort you always see when someone is complaining about something they donít like is;
ďIf you donít like it then vote with your wallet and don't buy itĒ
So now after people have done the thing they are actually supposed to do when they don't like a product, they are being slammed for not supporting a product. ďEntitled gamerĒ is a slur that gets thrown around a lot these days, but if ďjournalistsĒ are going to suggest that gamers need to support franchises regardless of whether or not they like the changes that have been made then who truly is feeling the sense of entitlement?
Allow me to pull a second excerpt;
Yet the fans revolted because Capcom dared to reinvent its IP for the 21st century and dared to change the colour of Danteís hair. Itís really very sad.
Well, for one, the guy loses most of his credibility for bringing up the ďwhite hairĒ straw-man argument. But this goes back to my point, if fans dont like something why in the blue hell should they support it?
It's reached the point where I just honestly feel sorry for the Devil May Cry fanbase. They had to watch the franchise get turned into a watered down version of itself gameplay wise and had to sit through a pretentious story that was so horribly written it was laughable. And at multiple turns detractors for the DmC reboot had mud slung at them by Ninja Theory, Capcom, and tons of the gaming press who took pot shots at them in their glorified commercials vaguely disguised as reviews that danced around as many issues fans had as it could. (I hate to spoil my own review that I'm still working on, but seriously, most of the major gaming press is completely full of shit if they think DmC is an 8 or 9 out of 10 caliber game). I also find it rather coincidental that most of the major gaming sites that dumped truckloads of praise onto DmC have been almost completely silent regarding it's utter failure to achieve it's goal of expanding the franchise's appeal despite having three weeks almost entirely to itself on gaming's open market.
Are there DMC fans who took their hate for DmC too far? Of course, but that's something that happens with everything that has a substantial fanbase (go Google fan reactions to Amazing Spider-Man #700). And there were also a fair share of people who were defenders of DmC who also went a bit too far in their defense of the game.
But at some point people might just want to accept that perhaps DmC was just not a game a majority of the existing fanbase wanted. They did the right thing and voted with their wallets, which is the simple most immediate way to send a message to any publisher these days. Demonizing people for not supporting something they don't want is about as screwed up as it gets.