[This post contains spoilers]
I was as skeptical as anyone about this reboot. It wasn’t the change of hair color that got to me, it was the change in attitude. Dante was always self assured and didn’t have to say “I don’t give a shit.” He was the coolest character in any video game, hands down. This new Dante was a turbulent child, always looking for trouble. When I saw that I was very annoyed with Ninja Theory, and Capcom, who passed off this great character to another studio.
After beating the game, I saw what Ninja Theory did with this kid who called himself “Dante the Demon-Killer,” and I have to admit, I am very impressed. Dante grew up in this reboot/prequel. He grew up into the Dante we know and love, and for that I thank the developers.
That isn’t to say that the journey from annoying rebel to suave slayer of demons was easy. The new Angelic/Demonic trigger system works wonderfully, and after getting used to, can lead to some beautiful, creative combos and kills. From a gameplay standpoint, my issue was mainly the camera controls. Without a manual lock-on feature, I felt myself fighting with the right stick to align myself to the correct target (something that should never happen in a game that requires the precision and timing that this one does). I also found the lack of moves disappointing, but that might be because I have spent too much time playing as Dante in DMC4. The combat always flowed smoothly, and the introduction of new enemies right into the last sections of the game kept things interesting. I also liked the way the game kept throwing new combinations of demons at me, each of them requiring a different strategy. This kept me on my toes and the challenge felt satisfying.
I played through the game on Demon Hunter, since it has been quite a while since I have touched any kind of hack-n-slash game, and found it to be approachable, even for newcomers to the genre. In fact, with the exception of a couple of boss fights, I’d say the game was too easy, even for someone as lacking in skill as myself. Doubtless the Hell or Hell and Son of Sparda difficulties will keep the more extreme fans happy, but for the average player, Demon Hunter is a good place to start. The game also scaled well as you progressed. New weapons were unlocked frequently, giving you new skills to purchase, and the constantly changing patterns of Demons increased the challenge perfectly as the game went on.
Aside from the camera issues, I had two other grievances with the game. The first was that on PS3, cut-scenes were crap. I have not had the chance to play the game on PC or 360 yet, so that could just be a hardware issue, but I am annoyed that a game that never loses FPS in gameplay, even with the most detailed environments I’ve seen in a while, can’t handle cut-scenes. Secondly, I was thoroughly tired of the platforming sections by the time I finished the first half of the game. I thought they would be there to show off Limbo and the grappling skills, but they just kept coming, right up to the end of the game. Yes they were cinematic, but I know that Dante can jump really high and move quickly through his environment. I play this game because I like to kill things in awesome ways, not to jump from floating bus to floating bit of road.
Speaking of floating bits of road, the game is gorgeous. It is incredibly colorful, the lighting is really well done, animations all look great, and limbo might just be the most beautiful (in a horrific, vulgar sort of way) place that I have visited in a video game in a long time.
The relationships between Cat, Vergil and Dante were really well done, although Vergil makes such a sudden turn at the end, with very little leading up to it. I was waiting for the relationship between the twins to break down for the whole game, but it takes until a cut-scene right before the final fight to do so. We all knew this game would end with a fight between the two, but I think we also expected a better story leading us to it. Vergil goes from love-able terrorist fighting for the people to tyrannical dictator in the space of ten seconds, then expects Dante to accept and embrace this massive ideological shift. Virgil claimed to be the smarter of the two brothers, and I am inclined to agree, but this scene could certainly be used as evidence against that claim.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game, despite the control issues and Dante being an insufferable idiot for the first third. It was far from perfect, which is disappointing, because it could have been absolutely fantastic if it just had a few tweaks and fixes. As it sits, I will give the game a 7.5 out of 10, for fun gameplay, a compelling story, gorgeous visuals, and making the player feel like a badass.