DmC: Devil May Cry PS3 review – What’s dazzling you is the nature of my game
Still built around the traditional trinity of melee, mid-air juggles and long-range firearm attacks, the combat immediately benefits from some simple but powerful interface tweaks. For instance, horizontal and vertical strikes are now activated by separate buttons, Soulcalibur-style. The simple immediacy this brings means that even a total novice can be mixing things up in no time, almost immediately delighting in the classic loop of launch, juggle and execute.
There’s just a simple, empowering brilliance to smashing an enemy’s hapless body into the sky, stalling him mid-air with a salvo of gunfire, leaping up for a few follow-up slashes, and then finally punishing his stupid face clean off with a savage downward strike. It’s the first thing everyone does in Devil May Cry, and it remains the backbone of the glorious carnage you inflict in all its various, wildly branching forms.
So it’s thrilling to discover that Ninja Theory’s other tweak to the controls has empowered aerial creativity yet further. You see, Dante has two distinct long-range grappling hook moves, the Angel Lift and Demon Pull, activated by L2 and R2 respectively. While paving the way for a great deal of adrenaline-charged (though eventually repetitive) do-or-die platforming set-pieces, in combat they alternately yank enemies towards Dante and zip him in their direction. Vastly improving on DMC4’s limited, context-sensitive long-range Snatch move, the new system blows the air game wide open, giving total control over exactly who and what gets thrown in which direction.
The upshot of all of this technical fight-talk? Manipulating the course of a battle is now an exhilarating, tactile, utterly precise experience, like pulling apart and reshaping the fight around you with your bare hands. Dante can launch an enemy and immediately follow it into the air. He can beat the hell out of it, leave it near-dead, then instantly zip to another airborne foe of his choice without touching the ground. And then another, and another.
Should he run dry of quarry, a switch to Demon Pull hauls an unwilling target into the air for a tasty slice of death-pie. It’s all about rapidly remodelling the battlefield from within, to the end of destroying it all in exactly the fashion you planned – or any other equally cool one you might improvise along the way.
And ye gods, does DmC give you the tools to improvise. Its expanding weaponset steadily grows throughout the course of the game, splitting into two broad groupings. The Angel weapons, again brought into play by holding L2, are of the weak, fast and rangy persuasion. The Devil weapons, cracked out with – you’ve guessed it – a pull of R2, are an altogether smashier affair. And of course, Dante’s trusty sword, Rebellion, remains a reliable all-rounder from start to finish.
It says a lot about the fun of each weapon’s learning curve that you find yourself quietly resenting the distraction of each new one when it initially appears. But each murderous toy is so subtly distinct in its strengths, and unlocks so many new gameplay dimensions through its use – let alone wielded in combination with its brothers and sisters – that you eventually, inevitably fall utterly in love with each and every one on its own terms.