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DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition PS4 Review

DmC: Devil May Cry received some major stick from serious hardcore fans when it was first shown, and it carried on through all those months up to its release on January 2013. Even after that people were still sticking into it because it didn’t have the right Dante or that they thought the combat didn’t look as good as previous entries – a damn hard thing to do as the series has featured one of the best in the business – or that the game was too easy compared to the challenge of Devil May Cry 3. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the series, well, apart from something that has a “2” on the end, and I completely had nothing but fun with Ninja Theory’s take on Devil May Cry’s stylish action, which embodies the previous games, but with a new flair of British flavour that blends together with fantastic level design and an elegant, flowing combat system that now has a silky performance buff and little tweaks in this remastered release that makes it the one to play.

If you never played this reimagining of Devil May Cry or are jumping into the series for the first time, then here is a quick story description. Dante is a rather cocky guy who is not afraid of his confidence and abilities. This vision of the character is a bit more rebellious than his Japanese counterpart, as he comes with a rather dirty mouth and a modern, westernised, punk-like attitude. This guy swears his way through the game and gets funky with half-naked females without a care for anyone else. Dante is the son of Sparda, a demon, and Eva, an angel, and together with Vergil are both Nephilims (Half-Demon, Half-Angel bred), and are the only beings capable of taking down Mundus, the king of the demon world. The game focuses on the brothers and another person, Kat, a young female who has a painful past of her own, as they struggle to stop Mundus from ruling Limbo City. At the same time, the player discovers about Dante’s past and his hidden powers within. This is an alternative universe, but the game also acts as an origins story to how Dante became such a freaking awesome demon hunter.

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Story feels more of a focus than any of the games before it, which for the most part is a good thing, showing quality cinematic scenes that at the same time manage to stay crazy but with less cheesiness than before. However, the emphasis on story means that sometimes the flow of the game and its combat is interrupted with small set pieces of dialogue. It does not happen often, but when it does it can be a momentum breaker, especially after you are pumped up from the mission before and are raring to continue your demon arse-kicking. Apart from that slight problem, the cutscenes and story are amusing from start to finish, and is sure to please people who do not mind a game trying a little too hard for cheap adult laughs.

The biggest change in this Definitive Edition is that the game now runs at 1080p 60fps, those magical words that are passed around on every gaming forum nowadays. Coming from the PC version, this isn’t exactly anything worth coming to this release, but if you are coming from the Xbox 360 or PS3, then the difference is clearly obvious to see. The action is smoother, the combat is more responsive and the bump in resolution along with some redone textures means that this is pretty much what people were playing on the PC two years ago, now with some additional tweaks and bundled downloadable content, such as costumes, Vergil’s campaign and a new bloody palace where the blue coat nephilim can be played.

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Action is Dante’s forte, since he comes equipped with his trademark Ebony and Ivory pistols (Square Button) and his Rebellion sword (Triangle Button, Circle for launching). As Dante progresses through the game he gains access to demon and angel weapons, and with a cleverly-thought-out control scheme, players can hold down either R2 to switch to the demon weapon or L2 to switch to the angel weapon. Letting go of the button will revert Dante back to his Rebellion sword. This allows for some extended chaining of combos, as when you reach the end of a string you can switch to another weapon and continuing chaining and then switch again once the score metre begins to drop. It is a notable inclusion that removes the limitation of having to equip weapons at the start of a mission. Giving Dante access to all his weapons at all times allows for some sadistic styling on enemies.

Dante gains an additional angel and demon weapons later in the game, but since there is no equipment option, the game puts the demon weapons to the Right D-Pad and the angel weapons to the Left D-pad. With a quick flick of a direction the weapon will switch to the other one. These can be linked into combos, so you can technically drill an enemy with one demon weapon and then switch to the other one and carry on styling. Demon weapons include the Arbiter axe (a giant axe) and the Eryx, a pair of gauntlets that let you hammer your opponents with your fists. On the angel side there is the Osiris scythe that powers up the more you use it and the Aquila, a pair of large shuriken-style blades that can be thrown like frisbees or used to trap enemies. There is a lot of freedom in the combat system to experiment chaining different moves together.

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Variety is thrown into combat with coloured enemies. Originally, these could only be killed with a demon or angel weapon that matched its colour, but after hearing the complaints from fans (I also didn’t like its concept) the developers have retuned those enemies so that you can damage them with any weapon, but only the weapon of the same colour deals stun animation. Attack with the wrong colour means the enemies will not flinch, letting them continue with the attack animation. It’s a nicely thought out way to improve the combat while still keeping the general idea of the mechanic.

Another problem I initially had with the originally release of the game was the lack of lock-on, as the mechanics in place weren’t great when a large group of enemies attacked. Now you can easily lock onto an enemy – even showing its health with a white bar around the lock on ring – to make sure you are dealing damage to the enemy you want. These small adjustments to the combat do make the experience that bit better, with the icing on the top being the fluidity of the increased frame rate. A new Turbo mode option has been included, offering a 20% speed increase to the gameplay. This combined with the frame rate makes for combat that is fast and furious, but most importantly, feels natural within the game’s combat mechanics. I couldn’t turn it off once I had tasted the turbo, as everything runs faster and downtime is decreased because of the speedier movement.

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Concerns were raised that the game might be easier than previous titles. That is certainly the case if you play on the normal “Devil Hunter” setting, as the game is more forgiving than say Devil May Cry 3. The style system feels easier to gain SSS ranks, mainly due to the angel and devil grapple that allows you to pull enemies towards you or pull you towards them. Fan feedback once again alerted the developers to fine tune the scoring system to be more like the older games. This new setting, dubbed hardcore, can be enabled on any difficulty setting and alters the style system to make ranks harder to earn and keep held before it reduces itself much quicker. In addition, Devil Trigger no longer offers free launchers on all surrounding enemies and parrying takes more skill to perform.

The game stresses the importance of changing weapons to keep gaining the most points possible and this keeps the combat addictive, especially if you are into leaderboards, as each mission records your total points and ranks you against the world on that difficulty. I see the standard difficulty as the one for new gamers that are coming to the series, while after that the game steps up for the hardcore with Son of Sparda, Dante Must Die, Heaven and Hell, and Hell and Hell (die in one hit and enemies have normal health) difficulties. Two new difficulties are added for the Definitive Edition – Must Style Mode and Gods Must Die. The former means you can only damage enemies when the ranking system has clocked S or higher, while the latter is probably the hardest mode in the game, as all enemies spawn with 2.5x the damage output and the player cannot use any items or heal.

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Dante spends a lot of his time in Limbo, the parallel dimension of Limbo City. Limbo allows the world to be broken apart and in turn creates a lot of platforming elements. Platforming was a bit of a sore part of the older games, as the controls were never fluent enough to carry the accuracy needed for jumps. Ninja Theory has overcome this with the use of the angel/demon whip and is used often to pull Dante towards platforms. It mixes this up with the use of the angel dash, which thrusts Dante forward in a gliding motion, to make for some compelling platform sections. The level design in general is mostly exceptional and it is all varied, constantly pushing you forward at a fast pace through vivid colour palettes and environments covering fairgrounds, destroyed cities, underground layers, mansions and even a nightclub – probably my favourite level in the game due to its unique nature. If you like to finish games 100%, then you will be happy to know that each mission contains hidden keys, secret mission doors, lost souls that need to be discovered, and all those difficulties to beat.

DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition is the platinum/special edition release of the game where the tweaks requested by fans have made it for the better. Dante’s remastering demonstrates that no matter what colour your hair is, a great game remains a great game made better by the frame rate increase and all the extras that come included in the package. If that’s all demonic to you, what that translates to is that DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition is the version to play, especially if you missed out visiting this interesting, stylish game full of character the last time.

8 out of 10