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DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition goes above and beyond

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Reach out and touch faith

It's been just over two years since the release of one of last gen's most polarizing titles. Back in 2010, Capcom made a bold and wildly unexpected decision to hand one of its most-loved franchises to a Western developer, and ever since many people have been vocal about their opinion of DmC Devil May Cry. A common topic for debate among fans of the Devil May Cry series is the aftermath of Ninja Theory's attempt at rebooting Capcom's beloved action-brawler.

Was it worth it? Did it succeed in what it set out to do? And just what the hell was up with Dante's new look? While many of these questions are open for discussion, none of those belittle the fact that we're still talking about the game years later. And because of that, Capcom and the folks at Ninja Theory aren't quite finished with their reimagining of the franchise. With the surprise announcement of DmC: Definitive Edition last year, along with a revisit to Devil May Cry 4 on the way, it's clear Capcom has not forgotten about its devil-hunting trash-talker.

During a special hands-on session with the Definitive Edition, I got to experience DmC with a fresh coat of paint and a much-needed re-tinkering. And after seeing how this enigmatic brawler's makeover has turned out, this new outing might just make you a believer.

DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (PlayStation 4 [previewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Ninja Theory

Publisher: Capcom
Release date: March 10, 2015
MSRP: $39.99

In this remaster of the Devil May Cry reboot, players take on the role of Dante, a young rebel who learns that the world around him is not what it seems. With demonic and angelic powers at his disposal, along with a serious talent for combat, he'll have to team up with his long-lost brother Vergil to battle hoards of demons that have invaded the real world. Along the way, he'll come to terms with his family's past, and face the demon king behind it all.

Though these remasters, revisits, and enhanced releases seem all the rage nowadays (Capcom just released one this week), Definitive Edition has been making the most of the opportunity. Besides offering the complete DmC experience (all DLC packs included), uprezzed graphics and sharper visuals, and new costumes for both characters, Ninja Theory also jumped at the chance to put its action-brawler through a heavy round of retuning. We're talking Street Fighter-level rebalancing, here. The studio even flew out DmC combo video masters to its offices to offer some feedback on the new build of the game. In many ways, this is the Director's Cut.

As much of a fan I was of Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry, I can't deny that it certainly had issues. Not only was the difficulty knocked down several pegs, which wasn't in keeping with series tradition, but many of the combat design choices, like the elemental-specific foes, added more annoyances than challenge. But Definitive Edition aims to remedy many of those problems. No more instant SSS ranks from mashing the same moves, no more easy parries, and no more infinite flights in Angel form to be had here. You wanted DmC to play by DMC's rules? You got it.

But let's get this out of the way: anyone expecting a complete reworking of DmC and its gameplay system to fit exactly how the previous games felt will be disappointed. Despite what many of the more cynical fans assumed, this is not DmC: Apology Edition (Haha, so clever). DmC: Definitive Edition is still very much Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry. Capcom producer Rey Jimenez spoke with me at length about the reception DmC had, and how this remaster might even make the harshest cynics look at the game in a new light.

"I think a lot of the negative reaction from the game came from the early announcement, which there were definitely problems with," Jimenez said while reflecting on the infamous debut at TGS 2010. "The end product was something that definitely appealed to a wider base -- but we really wanted to do this particular game [again] because it would really benefit from the jump [to current-gen]. There was some performance lacking that really affected the previous systems," he explained."This was something that could be revisited."

According to Jimenez, "The guys at Ninja Theory always had confidence in their work, and [...] the reaction we've seen so far has been encouraging. [The developers] are very proud of the work they've done, and Capcom has been behind this product since day one."

On new tech, DmC runs at a brisk 60 frames per second. Understandably, the original release on Xbox 360 and PS3 ran sluggishly, especially when put side by side with the superior PC port, which Ninja Theory used as the base for Definitive Edition. Moreover, the developers wanted to take advantage of the PS4 and Xbox One's social functions to allow players to share combo videos and other exhibitionist gameplay more easily.

Jimenez called working on the port "a fairly quick process," but noted there were challenges. For starters: "Getting it to 64-bit, and adjusting the framerate and physics changes. Since Unreal 3 isn't officially supported yet on PS4 and Xbox One, we had to do a bit of modifications to the engine to make run on the new systems. On the new consoles right now with social integration as a default, anyone can make a great combo video, and since you don't need to capture footage, I think that will be phenomenal for players."

In the hour I spent with the game, I was completely taken with it. DmC: DE felt sharp and on point. Though some changes are fairly subtle, such as the complete removal of Vergil's fedora (which Ninja Theory hated, by the way), many others will be instantly noticeable, particularly during combat. I constantly felt as if I was rediscovering aspects of the game I was already comfortable with, which was an awesome feeling. While the folks at Capcom were not keen on sharing the complete changelog just yet (it's apparently over six pages long), they were glad to talk about the success they had with the PC release.

Did I mention how great the PC version of DmC was? Capcom and Ninja Theory thought so too. More importantly, they loved all the cool mods players created, such as Turbo Mode (increasing game speed by twenty percent) and a number of unofficial patches and tweaks like the removal of weapon-specific enemies. A number of these mods were so well received by the developers they decided to implement them for this remaster. The work put into the Definitive Edition was equal parts developer iteration and incorporation of fan feedback.

Among these are the inclusion of the much-demanded lock-on targeting (complete with hold or toggle options) and a remappable button layout. For the latter, you can swap around most every action and ability. Want to recreate the layout for classic DMC? Go right ahead, and what better way to put the lock-on to use? Though initially it felt a bit jarring as the free-camera setup had to readjust itself, I quickly got my bearings. I still found myself going without it for the most part, but the addition of the lock-on became useful during encounters with elite enemies.

By far the most impressive feature added to Definitive Edition is the Hardcore Mode. Intended for combat enthusiasts who clamor for classic DMC, the new gameplay system addresses a number of criticisms from the original while also incorporating modifications to the current system. Firstly, Hardcore Mode is not a standalone difficulty mode akin to Dante Must Die or the brand new Gods Must Die modes, but an optional gameplay modifier activated before mission start. If you weren't a fan of the original's design choices for combat and wish for things to be a bit more akin to the original games (such as no enemy launch on devil trigger), this mode is for you.

"All of the changes and tweaks we've made, we've done them into two categories," said Jimenez. "A bunch of tweaks that are for the default game make it a better title -- and all the other changes that make it more like the classic DMC series are all placed into Hardcore Mode. We did this to allow people who loved old DmC to continue on with the same mechanics, but also have a title that has the best of old and new DMC. We definitely didn't want to have people adhere to new changes if they enjoyed the original game itself."

In addition to Hardcore Mode, another challenging option is Must Style Mode. With this modifier active, players need to reach S rank and above to damage enemies. Initially, I found this to be a simple affair given the number of enemies to take on. But then things changed once I was alone with a chainsaw-wielding Ravager. Each hit takes you back several ranks, and you have to work your way back up to S level while switching up moves to keep style growth healthy. This encounter took me several minutes, and it was a real wake-up call that I had to step up my game.

These modifiers add a whole new layer of depth. Without Hardcore Mode active, DmC reverts to its original combat balancing (save for a few additions and tweaks). Enabling it felt like stepping into a new game, and coupled with turbo mode, combat was bombastic and intense. DmC's Hardcore Mode brings out the best in Ninja Theory's game, and its level of refinement and polish shows great potential for combat exhibitionism.

Not content with just rebalancing the combat engine, the studio also added a brand new Bloody Palace mode for Vergil. Just like the original mode for Dante, you'll have to fight through a gauntlet of enemies and bosses while dealing with varying conditions and obstacles. Interestingly, Vergil's take on BP mode only features 60 levels as opposed to the standard 100 for Dante. While this may sound disappointing, several levels have multiple phases that require you to warp to different areas and fight extra waves of enemies. While the number of stages are shorter, there is definitely a lot of variety to be found here. And yes, you can now turn the timer off in Bloody Palace.

It's definitely reassuring to see the game in such solid shape, though I'm a little perplexed about the lack of a PC release being announced so far. Its absence is strange given how much of an influence the PC port of the original DmC was for Definitive Edition.

While this recent trend for bringing ports to new tech has gotten somewhat of a bad rap, it certainly has its advantages. Not only does it allow newcomers to get their hands on a spruced-up version of the game on their new consoles, it also allows games to have a second chance at being something truly exceptional. As much fun I had with DmC on PS3 and PC, there were a number issues I wished were ironed out by the developers. And now with the release of Definitive Edition, it's finally coming to pass.

It's an exciting time to be a Devil May Cry fan. Despite what you may feel about DmC, its developer, or what Capcom's true focus should be for the franchise, it's hard to deny that a considerable amount of attention and care went into this remaster. If you were one of the many who couldn't come around to giving the original a shot, then Definitive Edition will be your best opportunity to do so. Say what you will, but it's easily the most content-rich Devil May Cry game released in a very long time. And that's nothing to turn your nose up at. 


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Alessandro Fillari
Alessandro FillariStaff Writer   gamer profile

A San Francisco native, he's an admirer of the city's diverse culture and lifestyle. Prior to joining the staff, he was a contributor and an editor for his college newspaper where he wrote articl... more + disclosures


 



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