Sunday 28 April 2019

Devil May Cry 5 ★★★★★

As we’re nearing the end of this console cycle, we're starting to see game engines other than Unreal, which has been by far the most dominantly used engine of the generation, pulling off some of the best looking games to date. Once again Capcom show us that the RE engine, originally constructed for Resident Evil 7, is more versatile than originally perceived. Resident Evil 7 was an excellent showpiece for the engine. The recent remake of Resident Evil 2 is my favourite game of the year, so far, and shows just how a remake/reimaging should be done. Hitting every nostalgia beat, whilst making enough changes to keep it fresh for those of us that picked it up twenty years ago. The engine showed it was capable of more than just horror in first person... It could make zombies terrifying again, in third person as well. Then Devil May Cry 5 comes along two months later to show it has no problem doing fast-paced, hack and slash, action games without dropping any of its graphical prowess whilst still targeting 60 frames. 

DMC's opening few stages are far wider than any of the claustrophobic environments seen during the Resident Evil games and with some boss enemies larger than an average house. That said, the camera can become an issue within some of the tighter segments of the game, getting caught up on geometry and trapped in corners. The detail in the level design and on characters clothing and faces are some of the best I've seen, and the extensive destructibility of the objects in the environment makes for some great action scenes as bookcases and books smash to pieces and fill up the room. After about mission 8 though, the level design becomes far less inspired and more or less starts to look the same, over and over, with only the odd exception. Most of it is the same hell tunnels and caves.

The opening 10 minutes of the game are more Devil May Cry than the entire 2013 DMC “reboot”, so we can all forget about that one now. DMC5 is far closer to DMC3 in the way it plays, looks and feels; with the odd elements of DMC4 showing their head. Dante, the white-haired John Wick of demon hunters, plays very similar to his outings in DMC3 and 4. He acquires a tonne of weapons and sidearms, that are all changeable on the fly, as well as his four different fight styles from DMC3 making a return; (Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster and Royalguard) allowing for boundless combo potential as these are mixed up and chained together by someone with some Street Fighter levels of command input reflexes. 

Nero, Who's now out for revenge after having his arm ripped off, is still very much the same from DMC4 with his big change being that he's lost his demon arm and has replaced it with some very capable prosthetic ones, called Devil Breakers. Each different arm has a subtle variation of moves to add to Nero’s combat arsenal and change up his combos. V, somehow a more emo Kylo Ren, is the new mysterious poetry-loving guy of the group and comes with the biggest change in terms of play style. Whereas Nero and Dante are very much up close and personal, V stands off keeping his distance and commands three demons to do the fighting for him. Shadow, his black panther, does the up-close fighting and mostly excels fighting ground-based enemies. His demonic eagle thing, named Griffon, takes care of anything aerial with some decent ground attacks to boot. 

And lastly Nightmare, a big golem that V can summon once his Demon Trigger meter has been charged enough. I found the V sections of the game to be the more boring of the levels and just wanting to get back to being Dante or Nero. Standing back and mashing buttons never came off as very fun. An auto assist option is available from the start, that even the game recommends not using, which basically makes chain combos, for all characters, much easier with fewer button inputs and simplified commands.

The story plays out by jumping back and forth in the timeline. All of the game’s missions and cutscenes start with a date and time and load in with a timeline chart, so you don't end up too lost of when events are happening. This plays out particularly well as many of the levels are parallel to one another, showing what each character was up to at any given time. This is where the online crossover mechanic come in. During a lot of the stages any time another character is in a scene or in the distance fighting,  it's likely another real player in control. Mostly they're on their own path and don't interact with your own gameplay, aside from the odd occasion, but this is quite cool to see and wasn't something I was expecting. The game is possibly one of the shorter of the Devil May Cry titles, but the intention is to go back and redo levels with the other characters adding much to the replayability.

If you're a fan of the originals or just after a new hack and slash adventure because you've already played God of War to death, I couldn't recommend this more. Now I need a new Ninja Gaiden and DMC6.

Bry Wyatt

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