Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crescent's Thoughts On: DmC (Part 2)

Last week I started talking about why I thought of the new Devil May Cry, abbreviated as DmC for some strange reason. Before, I talked about the thematic and stylistic differences between the original series (Here after referred to as DMC) and the new reboot (Here after referred to as DmC), now I will dive into what is probably going to be the most controversial of DmC talk: Gameplay and most importantly Characters. Now, please note this isn't me saying that the new DmC sucks or is inferior in any way to the original DMC, only that it is different, it is not DMC as we know it. We clear? Okay, now let's continue.

Kicking ass and looking good while doing it.

Gameplay Differences

This might be the hardest to comment on mainly because of the genre DMC finds itself in. This kind of hack-n-slash action genre is often the victim of lack of variety. I mean, how many times have a game been considered a "Devil May Cry clone" or more recently a "God of War clone." This is because mechanically these games only really rely on several enemies, some form of upgradable combo system, and something to break up the action, and largely this is all there is to these games. This is why some developers find it rather appealing to create such a game because on the surface they seem simple to create; however, the good games of this genre have a lot of subtly to their gameplay and all have something to separate them from the rest of the pack, a focus, as it where, that the combat system revolves around. For example, in God of War the focus was relentless brutal assault, this is achieved through the rather open combo system where nearly any button combination yields an effective attack. In Ninja Gaiden it is all about deflecting and counterattacking given the fact that most enemies will block your attacks and are only vulnerable before or after their attacks.

What is DMC's focus? Variety and flexibility. While Kratos is a rage filled machine of death who doesn't care how you die so long as you are dead and Ryu is a calm assassin who kills you in one well placed strike, Dante is all about style and looking good, defeating his opponents seems secondary to this. This is reflected by the score system that DMC has since the third game where the number of hits isn't as important as changing up your attacks and targets. This is easily accomplished since DMC's combo system is about which direction the Analog stick is pointing (in relation to Dante) and the timing of your button rather than complex button sequences. Also the quick change of Dante's melee and ranged weapons during combat.

Am I the only one having trouble figuring out what is happening here?
What about the new DmC? Well, given the fact that the game isn't out yet does make it hard to determine since even the Demos are not the complete game, but I can still work with what I've gathered so far. From what I gather Dante has largely 3 different weapons depending on whether he is "normal," in "Devil mode," or in "Angel mode" and these weapons are his sword, an axe, and a pair of scythes respectively. Now since these modes can be activated at no cost at any time with their respective trigger buttons, I have no real qualm with them (except for the "Angel" thing, what the...) but it seems like the only guns Dante have are Ebony & Ivory. Now unless Devil and Angel modes also modify the form of Ebony & Ivory, it seems like Ninja Theory is ignoring a good portion of DMC combat. However, what really concerns me is the score system. I saw a video of a guy playing the DmC demo and he was fighting a boss demonstrating how piss easy it is to fight him. One well timed block, a Devil Trigger, and then spamming the axe attack, he not only drained pretty much all the life of that section of the boss fight, but also got SSS rank. Anyone who has played DMC knows getting SSS by just spamming one attack against a single enemy should NEVER HAPPEN. Hopefully, this isn't a consistent thing in the full game.

Character Differences

Now here is the issue that launched a thousand angry fans. To be clear this is not just about fucking up Dante's hair color, this is more about how "Not Dante" this character is. To be fair about Dante's hair color, it was one of Dante's major traits that identified him, making him look different from other characters. Dante's silver hair and red coat is as identifiable as Mario's red cap and mustache, without it the character just doesn't "appear" as Dante. To me, changing these details scream of being different just to be different. This is more apparent when Vergil was announced and he looks largely the same as his original version, slick-back silver hair with a blue coat. Hell, he even carries around Yamato. However, just as Devil May Cry 2 has proven, just because you look like Dante, doesn't mean you are Dante. The opposite is also true, but here is where this Dante really fails.

There is so much wrong with this picture. And no, I'm not just talking about hair.
First things first, Dante's history. Now, Ninja Theory still have Dante be the halfbreed son of the Demon Knight Sparda, but what I find puzzling is that it seems like instead of being half-human, he is half-angel suggesting that Dante's mother was an angel. Though Dante's mother was is barely mentioned throughout the series, the games suggest that Dante's dive to protect humanity is more of an influence from his mother rather than his father (though that isn't to say that Sparda fighting to protect mankind didn't have an effect). And being half-human does give him some connection to the human race completing the "Halfbreed warrior" scheme that I talked about previously. However now, not only is Dante's mother not human, but apparently he never knew her since he was raised in an orphanage. This completely changes the dynamic of Dante's personality, it is like if Peter Parker was never in anyway responsible for Uncle Ben's death, what dives him into action would have to be completely different, and that would change the scope of the character.

Second, Dante's attitude. It's hard for me to picture him as the Dante I know and love when he is, well, and asshole. The original Dante was cool, confident, and arrogant, but he was also charming, likable, and when it really gets down to it you can count on him to do the right thing. Yes he can be corny as all hell (See the infamous "LIIIIIIGHT!" scene from Devil May Cry 1), but that added to his charm. He can say such a stupid, corny, cliche line that should never be taken seriously (and even when he says it, it still can't be taken seriously) and still remain cool not despite it but rather because of it. This Dante, there is nothing charming about this Dante. Look at the picture above, what's so charming about that? Some poorly dressed white guy is flipping me off. Honestly, without this charm a lot of new Dante's actions comes across as jerk who thinks puffing out his chest and bumping into people is the epitome of coolness.

Finally, Dante's voice. This might seem petty but I can't take this guy seriously as Dante when not only does the voice actor have nothing to do with Power Rangers (seriously, the people who portrayed Dante, Vergil, and Nero all worked on Power Rangers), but he talks with this obnoxious lisp that punctuates every S sound he makes and makes some of his lines sound like he has a stuffed up nose. But what's worse for me is that not only does he act like and sound like a jerk, he also "flavors" his dialog with an over abundance of curse words. Now, I have nothing against profanity in of itself, to me the context and the meaning behind the words is more important than the words itself, and its that which new Dante fails so hard. He says "Fuck" so much that it sounds like he is being lazy, it comes across as that is the height of his intellectual capabilities and wit. Seriously, the cutscene before one boss battle has Dante and the Boss say "Fuck You" to each other over and over again. Taunting the bosses several times larger than him is part of Dante's charm, but that charm is disregarded when the back and forth is just saying the same obscenity over and over again.

Before I close, let me reiterate that I'm not saying that DmC sucks because of anything I have said. My point of this entire rant is that DmC is NOT DMC. I've said this about Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, it is a good and interesting game, but it isn't Breath of Fire, the same thing here. DmC could be a very good game, there are some really interesting ideas behind it, but it isn't DMC. If Capcom and Ninja Theory dropped all ties to the DMC franchise and made the same game but the names are all different, then I probably wouldn't have any issues with it. However, being tied to the DMC franchise means that there are several expectations that must be fulfilled, and so far none of those are being done. My main fear about this game is that it will kill DMC, either it will do well and thus the series will follow this new style and formula and will never be the same old DMC I fell in love with, or it will do poorly and thus Capcom will put the series in the same place where Breath of Fire is and never touch it outside of giving false hope to die hard fans. Perhaps, there is a way to bring back DMC after this, but it is hard to see that with how Capcom is running at the moment. Let's just hope this isn't the last we see of the real Dante.

Until next time.

-Crescent, While mourning for a love one, even a Devil May Cry.

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