Review: DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition

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So there’s the obsessive tweaking and re-tweaking of a creative project by an auteur who just doesn’t know when to step back and let go—think George Lucas and the endlessly re-cut Star Wars trilogies—and then there’s what Ninja Theory has done with DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition, a polished burnishing of its 2013 hip reimagining of Capcom’s brutal (and brutally difficult) Devil May Cry series. The former’s just annoying and eye-rolling; the latter’s an example of a developer expertly addressing several of the shortcomings of their first crack.

Even two years later, DmC’s combat system remains one of the best gaming’s ever seen—seriously, switching effortlessly between revolvers, an ax and a scythe while jump-flipping on the heads of your enemies in a fluid gymnastic routine of lethal beauty is about as badass as it gets. And yet this still somehow wasn’t enough to satisfy the hardcore crew who’d cut their teeth—or maybe had them broken into splinters—on the original Devil May Cry series’ unforgiving combat system.

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Lo, how the experts are satisfied. The Definitive Edition adds a Virility bottle’s worth of new gameplay modes with names like Hardcore and Gods Must Die, aimed straight at the folks who found whipping through Mundus’ demonic armies a mere walk in Limbo Park. Vergil gets to face waves of uglies in his own Bloody Palace survival mode. You can speed the game up 20 percent to amp the difficulty. And, perhaps best of all, you now have the ability to manually auto-target your enemies. In short, you’ve now been handed the keys to play the game the way you’d like. So much for the notion that saving the world is a job for the casual.

And wow, do the graphical upgrades in this definitive version impress the eyes. The jump to 60 FPS has done nothing but burnish the game’s eye-popping environments (easily one of its best features) and, better yet, it’s made the parade of scene-crowding combat sequences comprehensible again. Having recently re-played the original version of DmC on a PlayStation 3 and been shocked by how often it felt like swimming through a sea of visual mud, I have ample visual evidence that this is the case.

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As you’d expect, all the original game’s DLC is present and accounted for here, including the Vergil’s Downfall campaign that focuses on Dante’s idealistic and stuffy older brother. You’ve got access to the four-pack of character skins as well, in the event it’s super-important to you that Dante off his quota of Death Knights in his trademark silver coif.

So what didn’t change? Well, plenty of people (including me) took issue with the more juvenile and irritating aspects of DmC’s writing and storyline, and most of that remains untouched—at least one explicit sexual reference has been struck, but Dante’s wittiest retort to his friends and enemies still remains an F-bomb. There’s no question that the attempt to make Dante “edgier” landed closer to self-conscious than successful, but frankly, with all the new modes here, it doesn’t feel nearly as grating this time. And it’s still a clever and satisfying blast to take it straight to that arrogant Bill O’Reilly demon boss.

Gamers know it’s not at all unusual to see a game re-released sporting its DLC like multicolored bead necklaces in a Mardi Gras parade, just like it’s commonplace for a “remastered” release to feature only graphical upgrades that take advantage of beefier hardware. It’s a lot more unusual to see a developer go back and directly try to address some of the holes from the original version. Whether this is your first tour of duty in Limbo or you’re back to check out the new entrees on the menu, you’re going to end up both shocked and satisfied.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Not just DLC, but a new mode for Vergil, too
+ 1080p 60 fps graphics make the levels of Limbo feel like paintings sprung to life
+ New hardcore modes and control tweaks (manual auto-targeting!) expand the audience, improve an already amazing combat system

Cons:
– The plot and dialogue are still juvenile, and attempts at edginess still fall well short

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PlayStation 4, also available on Xbox One
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Ninja Theory
Release Date: 3/10/2015
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.