There is still a lot of anger swirling around the game made by Ninja Theory called DmC: Devil May Cry. From old fans and from those who support the new game that feel the old fans are hating it before it even comes out. There many things that are grating on the nerves of both sides, but I can only speak for the side of those who don't like what they see, because I don't. One of plenty of things is that the issue at hand isn't always clear. So I'm detailing why I don't like it and why not start with the oldest issue and work our way up.
Clothes don't make the man, but they affect what you think of him
The 2010 trailer was more than a culture shock, I thought someone had miss labeled the video and I was watching the trailer for some other game that had had its logo changed to make a troll. Then it became painfully clear that this was what they were going to feed us and claim that it is Devil May Cry. When I heard that Ninja Theory was going to make Devil May Cry I with held judgment until the trailers came out. At worst I expected the game play to feel like "Heavenly Sword" with Dante as the sword swinger. Then what looks like a heroin addict with black hair, a skunk stripe, weird coat with a Union Jack, a puny stick in his hip pocket that turns into about a half-dozen weapons, a sadist streak, and a smoking habit. The WTF factor just went off the chart and into an unknown part of the universe that nearly hits the end. As expected the fans didn't react well, but the extreme level was miss calculated. What we are all used to is a red coated cool guy with silver or white hair, depending on how you want to call it, and the trusty sword and gun stand-bys. Instead we have this kid.
Dante's look is iconic. All one has to do is see any of the four variations of the original series and know who that character is and what they are from. When I didn't even know what Devil May Cry was about, I had seen the cover of the first game and from there on out, if I saw Dante, not knowing that was his name, I knew that the picture was for the Devil May Cry series. Just like of I'd seen a Sonic, Mario, or Legend of Zelda game Now if I saw it, it wouldn't register in the least that this is Devil May Cry. Everything that I associated with it is gone.
What the people who don't understand why the fan base was so furious miss is that the old look had a meaning to it. The red clothes were a mark of the hero. In Japan, red is the color of the hero, and normally, in anime and video games, those who have something that might be more villainous, like demon powers or a negative reputation, are clad in red to make it more notable that they are good guys. Characters like Vash the Stampede, who is wanted as a major terrorist in his series; Inuyasha, who was introduced as a character maliciously attacking a village; and Alucard, who is honestly an insane vampire; are depicted with red to show that they are on the good side of the series. Did you ever wonder why the Red Ranger was always the leader? Even if Tommy was an exception to the rule for a short stint in America.
Next to talk on is the hair. My words here are only based on my observation and a small amount of folklore exposure, so I admit it is mostly on the side of speculation, but I feel I have a point regardless. There are many characters that have silver or white hair that are of supernatural breeding. Characters like Inuyasha and Sesshomaru, Kurama's Yoko form in Yu Yu Hakusho, seeing as what he became in the game Sephiroth, and even in an American context the "Touch of the Moon Spirit" that turned Yue's hair white in Avatar: The Last Airbender. There are many folklores around the world that have creatures like the White Fox with powerful magical abilities. In Japan there are many stories about the character having magic derived from mystical heritage like a Kitsune spirit marrying a human. Not that different from some Greek myths. These creatures being white as a mark of strong supernatural power. In pop-culture like video games and animes, this might have influenced the white hair of individuals with magical beings as parents, like Dante Son of Sparda. While there may not be a clear link, it is defiantly a trend that Dante fits into. While there are characters that are white haired purely cosmetically, or from age or other circumstances, it is an observation worth considering.
Dante's original character was a hitman or sorts. A "do anything" professional who just needed to like the job offered and the right password to take a job. He should look like a man who cares about things so that he'll care about his job. Many of the installments are decades apart and people change taste over the years, and they change wardrobes accordingly. But Dante did keep the constants of the red coat with black trimmed clothes which is also natural for some people. It is the iconic nature of his look.
While change and recreating of a franchise is normal, there were better ways to handle it. If they wanted the character to look more "realistic" look, they could have left his coat red and colored it like the trim of New Dante's coat. That red is a duller color than the red of the old coats, but would not have alienated the fan base as much as this did. His black hair and new coat makes him look generic as an NPC, not like a normal guy on the street. There is a shade of blonde that is close enough to the old white that it could have been used instead of changing so drastically.
While the change in and of itself set off some bombs, the fallout might have settled down on its own if it weren't for an interview shortly after the trailer released. It wasn't hard to see Tameem Antionades's face in the design of the new Dante. In fact Dante was made to look like Tameem's high school photo with some marks on him that made him look like he'd been through an interrogation and bloodshot eyes that implied drug use. Which is why I have taken to calling Ninja Theory's Dante Tamte, for his resemblance to "Ninja Tam". In the interview, Tameem said that the old Dante look and style were outdated and not cool anymore, and that the current look and style is what is cool now. All while his face is on the character. Which roughly translates to he is cooler than the original Dante. Now even when you change a character that much, fans can acclimate, but when you imply that you, the director, are cooler than the franchise in its entirety thus far, you WILL be torn a new one by the fan base. Then Alex Jones of Capcom decides to laugh at the reaction about the hair, you further insult them and now this isn't ever going to calm down until the fans get the installment in the franchise that they want.
After fan fervor hit a new peak, the man who said he didn't care made some changes. Tamte's coat went from stopping at about his buttocks to going to the knees to more closely resemble the original look. His face lost the scars and the drugged up eyes. And his face was altered to move away from Tameem. They however made the most grievous mistake of the whole project. After months of pushing to make Tamte look closer to Dante, a trailer is released with the same old character in the 2010 shocker, but he went Devil Trigger in this one. But instead of turning into a demon shape, or being engulfed in an energy shroud, or any of a dozen other things that could have happened, the original color scheme is restored in a Super Saiyan style transformation. To everyone who saw it and was hoping for a return to the original color scheme, in a day there was no story yet, it was like they copped out to try and shut us up. Of all the things they could have done, that was a spit in the face. Instead of listening to the passion for the character the fans have, and considering it was going to be a prequel to DMC3 in 2010, that was an effort to make the fans "shut up". It was lazy and a half-baked response to backlash.
Who do I have to kill, why does it look so easy, and why is this road so long?
Come E3 2011 we are finally shown game play previews. And while the combat looked like it might have the potential to live up to the old games, soon it was apparent that something had gotten lost in translation. Then in December a set of trailers came out that would show how the game play would look. It was okay, and at least a city out to kill Tamte spawned enemies that actively sought his death. The weapons moved faster than in later trailer and demos. Most likely the 2011 trailer was at 60 FPS, then the frame rate was locked at 30 and things look slower when there are less frames to work with in a second.
Now the main fodder enemies I'm talking about are the manikin things. In December 2011, they ran after Tamte, had a slicing dash of their own to attack with, and attacked as soon as he was in range even though they charged too long. But in the 2012 demo demonstrations, while waiting to be attacked to show off a dodge technique, the manikins ran in circles for seven seconds before assuming the attack stance and it takes three seconds actually go through with the strike. Now if you try to defend it as the tutorial demo, it doesn't fly. I played the Arkham Asylum demo and those guys came at me like they do in the full game normal mode, and it tutored me along the way in real-time. In an effort to be more "accessible" they have dumbed down the game play to the point that it has lost challenge.
All the enemies are like that. There is a heavy shield enemy that acts like a classic Spartan, hide behind the shield until they attack then get back behind it. However once stunned, be it they get their weapon stuck or you hit them hard enough at the right time, they stay inactive punching bags long enough that you can dispose of one or two of their counterparts without worrying about them. Then there are the "Tanks". How many times have we seen this enemy? It runs at you, you dodge, and then attack its back. It is the most used big body common enemy in gaming isn't it? The cherubs just float and while they shoot at Tamte, they hardly do anything relevant to the health bar.
Then there is that caterpillar thing named Poison. The "secret ingredient" in the "Virility" drink. She has a sailor mouth and cannot talk without puking. This thing is disgusting, and for a studio that is heralded for is writing ability, she relies on the F-bomb an awful lot. All she does is punch, puke, and break platforms in her battle. Yes she screams and it hurts if you're next to her, but other than that she is simple to beat. I know I haven't played it yet, but I flew through the first three stages of DMC3 original edition, having never touched Devil May Cry, just from watching game play video on the levels, Cerberus being my undoing. If I play this game, the less I have to deal with her, the better. But no! I have to do this for three tiers of combat ending with it getting its face popped like in an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon.
The combat system has been altered greatly too. With the introduction of Tamte's angel/demon half-breeding, the style system has boiled down to holding Left Trigger/L2 for angel style and Right Trigger/R2 for demon style, hold nothing for default sword, and whatever relevant changes come from the introduction of the new weapons they speak of. They will be accessible on the D-pad as the quick change styles for Dante were in Devil May Cry 4. Now in angel style Tamte will have the scythe which is the "chip away quick with a weak hit" weapon and is meant to keep enemies in the air. Demon style is a heavy ax in the "powerful ground splitter strike with the swing speed of a sleepy hut" weapon vein. The game play is meant to emphasize air combos where formally the game didn't care if you were in the air or on the ground. In fact the special attack button, which let you do special tricks with the swords or guns or make special dodges in Trickster Style or use Devil Bringer, is now used to launch enemies into the air exclusively.
The game has had its lock-on removed and replace with an auto-lock function, meaning the dodge buttons are now the bumper/R1L1 buttons. While it sounds like something that makes the game more responsive, it really removes an element of depth from the game play. In the old games, Lock-on plus tapping the joy stick in conjunction with the jump button was the dodge now you just have to tap your bumpers. While this seems like a good thing, when combined with the fact that the angel/demon styles are the trigger buttons, it strains one's ability to keep fingers straight. In the heat of a game it is easier than you'd think to let one slip while trying to deal with a crowd or boss. And with both bumpers being "Dodge" it removes that button as a potential extra function instead of being an extra button for evasion.
Ebony and Ivory used to be the embodiment of infinite ammo. In a pinch could be used to chip at an enemy while trying to get out of tight spot and constantly hurt the demons. Now the guns will overheat and need to cool off. The justification? "Some people play Devil May Cry like a Third-Person Shooter." There is NO way you could play DMC as a TPS. The guns will branch for the swords in combos and even though there was Gunslinger style, the style meter wouldn't react to a gun exclusive approach. I tried. It failed. So to suggest that the gun cool down period is necessary to make players be more complex in the game is such a ridiculous notion that it shouldn't have crossed their minds.
Then the style meter got an overhaul. I've seen some Devil May Cry 4 combo videos and in order to get those SSS you got to be crazy with the combos, especially on the bosses. In the 2012 Capcom Unity demo sans Ninja Theory, the player got Poison down on the ground and hit it three times with the ax and the meter automatically changed to the next letter up. In most of the combat demos, the style meter seems to climb with just about any move made that hits the enemy. Even with repetition of the same move many times. In Devil May cry 4, the style meter would start to become unresponsive if you repeat the same thing over and over too much. This new one just feels like it over rewards you for anything that could count as a combo. Anything "A" and above have never been easy to reach, and I bet most people can hit a "B" in the combo meter, but DmC just feels too easy to get that "A" and not much more work to his "S". Once devil trigger comes on, it all becomes all that much easier.
The Devil Trigger in this game has been controversial ever since it showed up as a color cop-out for the original Dante design. But the original as a game play mechanic was basically a power and speed up of the normal skill set. While one did a good deal more damage than in normal mode, it didn't affect the enemy at all other than hurting them more. Tamte's devil trigger throws the enemies in the air and holds them there until he beats on them. In fact if you don't hit them, they just hover in the air until the mode times out. Originally the only way to get health back in Devil May Cry was to use the vital stars and dropped green orbs. Tamte's devil trigger recovers health the whole time you're in it and is extended while you stay in the air, and seeing as the combos are built to keep the enemies in the air, it's going to be too easy to completely recover health once you get the hang of air juggling enemies.
One of Ninja Theory's worst game functions are their very long levels. I played "Heavenly Sword", and believe the sales numbers for "Enslaved" seeing as I can't find it anywhere and won't buy it until I can try it as a rental, and while there are check points that let you put it down the levels take forever to finish. Every one of them is a marathon. Now I like a game with challenge and length, but I want to have a clear pit-stop every once and a while. Watching the "Escape" video with the church and the "Lilith's Club" from comic-con, if I were playing I'd be asking when the end was coming up. Yes Devil May Cry has had long levels in the later missions, but it wasn't nonstop to the point that it wears your thumbs out. If Poison is any indication the bosses will be just as bad. When your "challenge" is due to monotony, it's not a challenge anymore, it's annoying. I hated fighting Bohan at the end of "Heavenly Sword" and not because he was too hard, but because he just spammed the same attacks over and over and had too many tiers to his fight. By the time I got done with it, I couldn't wash my hands of that mess fast enough. And seeing some of that in DmC, I figure I'll feel the same if I try it.
You Tell Me a Story and I'll Tell You If I Like It
While it is smart not to tell the whole story of the game before you release it so that people will get it just to find out the full story, what DmC has told us is something that has been done a dozen times before and a dozen times again. Okay, evil controls the world and no one sees it because the evil has them brainwashed and false feed information. Good guys with resources try to stand against them, but need a secret weapon, which is a young man with an attitude and disinterested in his stake in the status quo. I know I've heard that one before. In fact it feels similar, though not identical, to Assassin's Creed. And even if that isn't the one that is closest to, I know I've heard this story before.
The idea here is that the world is under demon control. Our real world. So those big banks that control your money, those reality TV shows that are all over the air, the people who influence you decisions by giving you information like the news, they are all demons and demon controlled. The security cameras on the street for your protection are actually for the demons to keep eyes on you and out for anyone who messes with the order of things. Vergil, Tamte's twin brother, like in the old story with Dante, was adopted by a wealthy family and created a security program that made him a multi-millionaire before he got out of school. His adoptive mom was killed by the demons and his adoptive dad is enslaved by them. So he takes his money and starts "The Order" to be a rebellion against the demons in charge. Tamte didn't luck out. He went to a demon run orphanage, got abused, and other things to make him a punk with an attitude. So Vergil finds him and sends the psychic medium to bring him into "The Order". Tamte resists for a while, and then decides to come along to meet the boss and see if he cares, and the demons are after him the whole way for an unstated reason. That's it. That is the story.
In an effort to make a game that is serious, "more real", and targeted to treat the gamer like a mature individuals, they have made a game with immature humor, heavy cursing, and more unbelievable than the original cannon. The original was set in its own world and with its own history, allowing some things to be more exaggerated than a "real world" game. But when you try make that kind of story fit in the real world, and then make it that the demon element are the ones in charge, then you've just become more ridiculous than you accuse the original of being.
Tamte is a foul-mouthed brat. I'm trying to be professional here, but that just about sums it up. And his supporters aren't doing him any favors. In the newest Capcom Unity stream form GamesCom, the hosts playing the demo claim that Tamte's mentality is that of a teenager. He says things that he thinks sound cool, but don't as much as he believes. When the people trying to win over fence riders by trying to justify this kid's personality, you're doing it wrong. Moreover, if they try to justify their game play by saying that he is unaccustomed to handling weapons and that's why the character looks like he won't play as well as he could then you've just plan dropped the ball. Some people might buy that, but Dante was a young man in DMC3 and he had no problems handling his weapons. Nextly, no one really likes someone whose only vocabulary capacity is to throw out words you can't say on TV. While the original Dante was guilty of it very mildly in the English dub of the anime, that can be chocked up to ADV's handling of it. Tamte is just bad at it.
The other "real world" thing that just doesn't work is the political satire. I mean if you wanted to do something like that, the least you could do Ninja Theory is take a shot at your own new media. FOX News gets worked over by John Stewart and Steve Colbert but they're good at it. I know that it is easy to make a parody of that network, but "Just doin' Gods work." Really? And the reality TV thing feels just so out of place, even in this context. Not to mention the flying naked Tamte in the "Public Enemy" trailer. The humor here feels so in conflict with its own narrative that they should have picked serious or humorous and ran with one or the other.
"Hey. What's Your Name?"
This is where I make my boldest accusation in this whole essay. I have looked at several videos, and compared the two as closely as you can with youtube quality videos. I know this is an opinion and that I can't prove it here, but I feel I am right to say this. Ninja Theory Dante, Tameem's Dante, Tamte, is nothing more than a reskinned Nero from Devil May Cry 4 with just enough of the original Dante in him to pass as his reincarnation. If you look close at Tamte's animations, other than the use of two hands and the switching of the hand he leads and ends with, they are Nero's to the letter. Yes Tamte has some added flourish in some of sword tricks, but the basic combo and the pause stance before moving into the flourish final strike is Nero's body stance. They even have the same silhouette. Tamte's coat started being a faded black thing with a hood, but after the revisions, when in Limbo, the colors of the coat become a dark blue and red trim. With that color pallet and the red in the hood, Tamte almost looks just like Nero, sans the most obvious differences in the face, hair, and right hand. Yes Nero stood with a bit of a wider stance, but the two almost fill the same shadow. With the angel/demon chains acting as a tool to draw the enemy to him and him to them or the platforms, he fights like Nero with the Devil Bringer. There is also a move that is a pull him to the enemy, uppercut, and repeat that was one of Nero's techniques too. The dash attack for the scythe has the same animations as Nero's dash with Red Queen that can end with the three flaming spins when the sword is fully revved up. Now Tamte stumbles from time to time form the momentum of his sword play. The creators say that that it is because he is inexperienced, so maybe that's new for him. No it isn't. When Red Queen unloads its fuel load into the spin technique, Nero has the exact same stumble. So Nero will stumble when a sword with an engine in it, one so powerful only he can use it, unleashes an attack at literally full-throttle pulling him along the path of the attack, but Tamte will stumble under his own momentum? The launch animation for Tamte's Rebellion is the same animation for when Nero launched an enemy. While some of Tamte's animation are new for him and some are recycled from the original Dante, the bulk of his animations and even his coat come from Nero.
Nero is not the only thing Tamte is copying. His angel air dash looks like a famous Spiderman pose by design. The creature Poison looks like it could have come out of "Dead Space". The ax acts like "Heavenly Sword" heavy sword mode, only adding a shockwave in the ground. And the enemies aren't as unique to this game as one would think. I have the book Devil May Cry 4 Devil's Material Collection, and in the book there are four pages dedicated to unappearance devil, meaning that they are the ones that for one reason or another were left out of the game. One has a suspicious resemblance to the "Tanks" in "Lilith's Club" and the new demo level from GamesCom, another is a manikin that is held together with the same energy that Devil Bringer seems to anchor the ghost hand with instead of the supernatural tar of DmC, and one looks like a "Savior" that looks like an infant bearing a resemblance to the DmC cherubs. The world warping in Limbo feels straight out of Inception, and the "demon dodge" acts exactly like "Witch Time" from Bayonetta. Capcom Unity even confirmed that Tamte will use Original Dante one-liners so that he'll feel more like Dante. Are we really recycling dialogue for this game to connect it to the original franchise?
Something else to note is that Kat, Tamte's psychic tag along, looks like "Heavenly Sword" Kai as a young woman instead of an older girl. They have similar chin line, cheek bones, and their noses are the same shape and even have a similar line through a line in the cheek bone. The only real difference is that Kat's eyes are nowhere near as big; they just look like Kai grew into hers.
Time to Wrap This Up
There are many things in this game that many people are defending for a lack of hands-on experience. But for many of us who didn't like the first look, it has only gotten worse. Almost every time Tameem and Alex Jones, Capcom Unity, or even Capcom Japan open their mouths, they manage to insult us. Tameem started it by saying that Original Dante was out of date and that this was the new cool. Seeing as his face was still on the character at the time, he was basically saying that he was cooler than Dante. He then said that it needed to be reset and he didn't care about the fan's opinions, which was another spit in the face of the angry fans. While being interviewed, Alex laughed over the reaction to the redesign. He really did laugh at the fans. This hasn't stopped since those two shot their mouths off. In spite of Capcom's attempts at damage control, they still kept stepping on the toes of fans that kept reacting poorly to the game. They have played the "media censor" card on their forums, Ninja Theory is guilty of the same, and many groups who support the game do little more than go out of their way to bully anyone who speaks negatively about the game on their forums and blogs. For all of the things that this game has done technically, the things that they have not done they said they would do, the imitations of anything on the market they thought looked good, and a plot and game control scheme that wasn't received well by core fans, the treatment of the core fans is the true heart of the ever-present resistance and distaste for this game. When you control what people can post about the game, ignore what they tell you they aren't happy about, insult them in interview, and act like the games you are drawing from are no longer good when many people still are eagerly awaiting a sequel to them, people will not take it lying down. It is not right to treat people that way, and that is why so many people are still so angry about this game. While many of the character design changes were very irritating to some people and the story isn't impressing old fans, to encourage the divide in the fan base is an incorrigible act.