Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crescent's Thoughts On: DmC

As you may have gleamed from my review of the Devil May Cry anime, I am a fan of the DMC series. In fact, the original Devil May Cry was the first game I owned for the PS2, and I largely chalk up my current skill with action games (both old school and new) with my growth playing many of the DMC games. Hell, I even liked Devil May Cry 4 even though Nero really wasn't that much different in terms of character than Dante, and the entire second half of the game seemed rushed with Dante running through the entirety of the game backwards. But then came that infamous piece of Concept Art that marks the reboot of the Devil May Cry series with some bruised up, uncaring, badly dressed, BLACK HAIRED dweeb that is claiming to be Dante. Yeah, I, like many other fans, are displeased with what Ninja Theory and Capcom are doing to the series. So much so that I pretty much stopped following "DmC" almost immediately after seeing that picture. Now that DmC is coming around the corner, I've decided to check out what the current game looks like and curve my expectations. So this post is my thoughts on the new DmC, if you don't want to hear it, don't read it.

Is he trying to reenact the Cover Art to Devil May Cry 3?
Now before I begin, I am NOT saying that DmC sucks or that the story is bad or that the original games where in some way masterpieces of complete video game design and storytelling or that new Dante sucks just because of his hair. I am under no delusions that the original games where some sort of Citizen Kane of gaming, and honestly I don't think any DMC fan has this mentality. And I'm not saying that since DmC is different that it is somehow inferior to the original games. My point is that from what I can tell DmC ISN'T Devil May Cry. If this game was an original IP, than I would have absolutely problem with what Ninja Theory or Capcom chooses to do with their protagonist or story; however, this isn't a new IP this is Devil May Cry, and there are certain thematic and stylistic expectations that come from the Devil May Cry that should be present in all of it's entries. It was for this reason that Devil May Cry even exists in the first place.

*GUNSHOTS* Devil May Cry.
For those of you who are not aware of it, Devil May Cry was one of Capcom's first attempts at making Resident Evil 4. It was originally suppose to be a part of the RE series with Bio-engineering replacing all of the supernatural elements of the story but still being far more focused on Action than the Survivor Horror elements of the Resident Evil series. However, during development the game drifted farther and farther away from the thematic and especially the stylistic elements of the Resident Evil series, it was decided that this game should be unrelated to Resident Evil and be it's own game. Thus, it became Devil May Cry. It was this departure from the original source material that game DMC it's own life; however, now that same departure is handled in a completely different way and is threatening to either destroy the series or at least forever divide its fan base.

Devil May Cry: Also known as the Silver Hair Club.

Thematic Differences

Many people complain that the Story to Devil May Cry is either dumb or just weak in general. And while I don't herald the games as masterpieces in story telling, you have understand that story was never a focal point for the series. Overall the story is just there to tell the player who he is playing and why he should care about what he is doing, and to that end the story often times works just fine. Simplistic, cliche, unoriginal sure, but not overly bad unless those are your criteria for quality. So let me make it clear that when I am talking about the Thematic differences, I'm not talking about overall story, but rather the themes or over arching ideas or messages that is being carried throughout story.

Devil May Cry is of course one of the Half-Monster Heroes genres, you know the ones where the hero must fight for humanity against forces that he himself is apart of. Now while Hellboy and Vampire Hunter D are both apart of this genre along side DMC, but they take it in a far different direction. For both Hellboy and D their "evil" side is something they must consistently fight against in order to persevere their humanity, even if all of humanity is against them. However, Devil May Cry never touched on this aspect, the closest they came is Nero who didn't want Kyrie to regard him as a monster, but even then it was rather light. Instead, their fight against evil isn't an internal conflict because Good and Evil can occur in both Humans and Demons alike, and thus they are just super-powered individuals just trying to save the world against odds that would be considered impossible for anyone else and enjoying themselves while doing it.

However, then we come to DmC who's themes are far less idealistic. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I'm pretty sure that Devil May Cry has never been about social commentary how the media skews our perception of reality. How does this work with the idea of Good and Evil being the results of personal choice rather than Humanity or Devils? Again, this is not about whether one is better or the other, this is just to highlight the differences.

I'm not sure, but I think he is trying to be Spider-man.

Stylistic Differences

Now while Story is hardly a important part of Devil May Cry, the same can't be said of it's Artistic choices. DMC is all about Style and one could say that it is another thematic element; however, I find it easier to separate story elements from artistic elements and DMC is clearly focused on it's Artistic elements, so much so that it has a clear Style. The best way I can describe DMC's art is Gothic clashed with Modern. In many of the games, Dante is running around either Gothic cathedrals or castles or in the streets of a major metropolis; however, even when he is in an environment dominated by one style there are elements of the other pop up occasional. If Dante is running around castles, he sticks out with his trench coat and guns, if Dante is running around the streets, then the demons stick out or you find some artifact that is required to move on. However, this goes beyond just graphics, it is also reflected in the music. Now, everyone knows Devil May Cry loves it's Heavy Death Metal with Electric Guitars screeching and incoherent mumblings of a lead singer with a sore throat, but that is often mixed with orchestrated Gothic choirs that pop in later in the game. Most of the final boss music in the series is almost complete orchestrated pieces with no modern feel to it. The clearest example of this would be the main theme to Devil May Cry 3: "Devils Never Cry" or the anime's opening theme called simply: DMC. If you haven't heard either check them out.

Is such a clear Style present in the new game?Well, from what I can see... no. Yes, Dante is running through streets, but unlike the original series these streets are more dirty and grimy instead of being generally well kept. Now this works well with the new theme of social commentary, but it doesn't work with DMC's original Style since it is far more dirty rather than clean. Also, there doesn't appear to be any Gothic architecture anywhere in the game. True, I am working mostly from what gameplay footage I have seen, but the modern dystopian city that Dante finds himself in doesn't seem to have a single Gargoyle anywhere. There is also a kind of Tron level in the game as you fight... well let's not kid ourselves, you fight an evil Bill O'Reily.... Yeah, they are about as subtle with their social commentary as a sledgehammer. As for music, well I need a much bigger sample size to make a true comparison.

This post is getting rather long so I'm going to leave the rest of my points for a second part to be done next week.

To Be Continued...

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