Monday, February 4, 2013

Why You're All Fucking Wrong About The New Devil May Cry Game


Let me open by laying down what is pretty much an undeniable disclaimer about this whole argument - not liking the protagonist that you spend an entire game with is entirely a valid reason to not play a game. It might not make the game good or bad, depending on the genre, but if you find the character you play as an obnoxious, or irritating, or annoying person, then no-one should expect you to sit there and like it. When playing Sonic Generations, all I could think about was how much I hate Sonic as a character, for... a lot of it. Now, I forgave the bastard because I liked playing the game, but he was treading a thin line and... y'know, if someone was less able to overlook how much of a douchebag Sonic is, I'd be completely content in letting that be their reason not to play Sonic Generations. I'd be a little disappointed, cos it's a damn fine platformer, but come on. It's like forcing yourself to watch the Star Wars prequels for the action scenes alone. Kinda justified in not watching it cos the characters suck arse, eh?

With that out of the way, I can move on to business of the day. 

YOU'RE ALL FUCKING WRONG ABOUT THE NEW DEVIL MAY CRY GAME

I was gonna call this article "you're all right about the new Devil May Cry game," but I can't go with that. Usually I'm a calm, reserved individual. And, in a roundabout sort of way, I do think everyone is right about DmC Devil May Cry. ...eh, but that doesn't quite paint the message I want to portray in the light I want it to. No, I don't want to pat anyone on the back for this. I would rather make sure everyone knows what utter cunts they're being about this game. So yeah, alright, you are all right; but more crucially, you're all wrong. So, so wrong, each and every one of you. And I am now going to proceed with my elaborate, intelligent and earth-shattering argument as to why everyone is wrong.

Subjectivity is a thing that exists, guys!

...yeah. That's basically it. You're all wrong because you all fail to grasp subjectivity, basically. But you're also all wrong for better reasons that I'll list now, but never ever forget the subjectivity that goes into forming opinions. Never. Because maybe, just maybe, you'll end up respecting people you disagree with... instead of leaping down their throats for looking at you funny. Be the bigger man and everyone will come out feeling better about themselves, huh? 


To DmC Devil May Cry's Detractors



It was Brad Shoemaker of Giant Bomb that said, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone so angry about someone liking a game." If you have ever told someone they shouldn't like DmC, after they've played it and enjoyed it, you are one of the saddest people ever. Just sayin'. There's a lot to hate about DmC - and I'll get to that in a bit - but to completely ignore any (and all) of its redeeming qualities is to spit in the face of people who like the game. And that's just... well that's just kind of stupid. You big dummies.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike DmC, but - and this is without playing it - there are also a lot of reasons to like it. It at least provides a visceral (if shallow) hack and slash experience which creates, if nothing else, the illusion that the player is pulling off incredible feats of skill. For those who found the original Devil May Cry games too difficult, this one lets them pull of visually impressive, high-ranking combos with relative ease. To dispute that such a thing is enjoyable is to be an utter moron. Sure, it's not what Devil May Cry is all about, but it is an acceptable and oft-used approach to action gaming. Whether you like it or not, you can't throw off that other people like it, either.

The story, though. The new Dante! The plot isn't glamorous, sure - it can even be a little pretentious at times - but it does tell an effective, character-driven tale about a singular, unwitting man being dragged into a holy war that doesn't concern him. And isn't that a staple of Devil May Cry, really? All the Bill O'Reilly stand-in junk... the demons controlling the world through soda... the whole concept of Limbo" (very They Live-esque)... I mean, yes, alright, it's all on the very very fringe of what you'd accept from a Devil May Cry game. But it's not poorly told by any stretch of the word. Is it perfect? No. Far from it. But it's neither a step backwards nor a step forwards for the series, all said and done.

As for the new Dante himself? I've gone on the record - I don't like him at all. But people that do like him? They like him for a reason. He's much more human than the character has ever been; less cartoony, and more (arguably) like a real person. His apathy is definitely a bit jarring, but people have found a way to find this reincarnation as more funny than before. They might be interpreting a degree of irony not intended by the creators of the game, though - I'll fully cop to that. It doesn't change the fact that he is, on many levels, enjoyable as a protagonist. Is it the same level as before? Oh, lord no. Not by a long shot. ...who cares, though, huh?

In the grand scheme of things, let us never forget that DmC Devil May Cry is but a footnote in the history of Devil May Cry. This series has endured four titles - at least two of them insanely popular. It's kind of normal for a series, at this point in it's lifespan, to branch out. I wouldn't have been surprised if they had developed a multiplayer brawler of some kind. Or a goddamn kart racer, Jak and Daxter style. At any rate, no matter how popular and well-liked DmC is, Capcom have gone on the record saying there's a very good chance there will be an in-house Devil May Cry 5 at some point. When that happens... will you still be bitching about DmC? Will this Western-developed quasi-prequel be of any offense to you in a few years' time? Hell. In a month will you even care? Platinum-developed Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is on the horizon; that will at least satiate your need for properly good hack and slash games, hmmm? And assuming it doesn't. Assuming every other Devil May Cry game is derivative of the Ninja Theory reboot. What have you lost? The Devil May Cry HD Collection still exists. Devil May Cry 4 is there. You've got four considerably good games, at least two great games, in the Devil May Cry series. No-one will ever take that away from you. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

Now then.


To the Detractors of DmC Devil May Cry's Detractors



You guys, eh? Now obviously I don't mind that you like the game, alright? What I do mind is your utter indignation in not accepting that DmC Devil May Cry is a massive middle finger to everyone who both loves and respects the series. It's an insult. Perhaps not an insult on the level of, say, Syndicate or the proposed X-COM first-person shooter, but definitely one comparable to Deus Ex: The Invisible War, or DOOM 3. I don't know if you've ever been a fan of something that was changed on a near-fundamental level for seemingly erroneous reasons, but it is far from a pleasant feeling. You feel pretty dejected, and your dejection inspires anger. 

But if you can't sympathize with devout Devil May Cry fans - possibly because they seem a tad nuts - you can look at the facts. DmC Devil May Cry is objectively - and I say that, objectively - an easier game than the original games. It's got far less depth too, and is less meticulously balanced. I won't say if that's a better or worse thing, but it probably leans towards worse. I mean, Christ, it's a series that has made its devoted fanbase by being excruciating (and rewarding) in its difficulty - having a low barrier to entry combined with a staggeringly high skill ceiling. And, really, there's no reason why DmC couldn't have done the same fucking thing. 

There's ample evidence that, all said and done, Ninja Theory are really not the kind of guys you'd give to handle a technically-minded, hardcore hack and slash series to. With Capcom distancing themselves creatively from them, I think it goes to show that, for whatever Ninja Theory did right in making DmC their own, they equally did wrong in providing an experience that oldcomers to the series would genuinely appreciate. Sure, that's what a reboot is supposed to do. ...but it's the way the game is presented, especially by its creators, that makes it truly an insult. The lead developed, Taneem, is quoted often times saying he really doesn't care what old fans of Devil May Cry think. Perhaps a valid response to personal criticism, but then you go ahead and put it scenes like the now infamous mop-landing-on-head one; where Dante rejects his predecessor's look by pffft-ing and muttering "not in a million years" (subtext: TAKE THAT YA WHINGING FANBOYS)... how are you supposed to interpret that, as a fan? A loving jab? No, you take that as a sign that Ninja Theory probably genuinely thought they were improving - fixing - the Devil May Cry formula. What a joke.

Oh, and Dante. Look. I know some people are pissed he has black hair. And if they are then call them a twat. Some people hate the new character (when compared to "classic" Dante) for actual, legitimate reasons. I, for one, understood it that Dante was supposed to have a steely exterior and a soft, emotional, nougat center. It's in the title, right? Devil May Cry? The penultimate quote of Devil May Cry 3 is "even a devil may cry when he lost a loved one". Dante was a silly, energetic and cocky asshole... because deep down inside he was torn between heaven and hell. That's the whole point of making his character a sarcastic, quip-filled, eccentric and, if I do say so myself, lame-ass motherfucker. So they could strip it away and reveal that he is more human than devil.

The new Dante could approach that. Now he is torn between heaven and hell because his father was a demon; his mother, an angel. That's not a bad jumping off point. But you gotta admit, guys, whatever they tried with Dante just didn't work. The way they made sure you knew he was conflicted was to have him be insufferably cocky and rude. Rude! The old Dante was never rude, he was carefree! The new Dante approaches a situation by swearing violently at it for a few minutes while he does whatever it is he does. And, y'know, you could appreciate that as humour ironically, or sarcastically, but looking at Ninja Theory's back catalog it seems increasingly more likely that they were being completely, stone-faced serious. If that was their intention, they failed at that.


Really, the biggest to remember is that Devil May Cry has always had two core tenants of appeal - flawless skill-based hack and slash gameplay, and an enjoyable and light-hearted character to be around in Dante, that complimented the otherwise bleak and Gothic-inspired inspirations of the environments and design. And DmC trod over both of those things. It may have pulled out some big guns of its own - the combat is retooled to make it so much over to look cool. And the environments are pretty as hell - Limbo is an excellent concept for a videogame world (though I'm pretty certain Bayonetta already did it). The motion capture acting and voice performances are, forgiving the blemishes in the writing, pretty damn great, and there is an audaciousness to the game that is rooted in reality that can make it seem more outlandish than previous entries. ...but the gameplay isn't anywhere near as technical. And the characters aren't anywhere near as goofy, fun or memorable. To sum it up in one word - DmC is shallow. It's a shallow imitation of a franchise that less than five years a go was kicking in extremely strong. There's no doubt that it isn't worthy of the Devil May Cry title, and there's no denying that the people who are pissed about it are rightly so.

And here I think is something that really gets me. There aren't a lot of games like Devil May Cry left, eh? Sure, there's Bayonetta 2 on the horizon and Metal Gear Rising is shaping up, but all said and done... Devil May Cry was its own beast. There is a very real threat to Devil May Cry aficionados that the success of this shallow reboot will make it that Devil May Cry 4 was the last game they'll like in the series. The idea that a game they passionately love could, as they know it, be dismantled and laying dead on Ninja Theory's floor? How can you not sympathize? Yes. Yes it is paranoid, but goddamn it, you'd expect them to stick up for you when Valve reveals Half-Life 3 is going to be a rail shooter, you better at least try to stick up for them when Devil May Cry is distilled to its mere face-value elements. 

"You today, me tomorrow." That's a mantra I like to live by. Even if you love DmC - and why shouldn't you, it's a damn entertaining game - you can still take a step back and appreciate the idea that it's a middle finger to the fans of the originals. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Same as you'd encourage them to understand why you love it, you should understand why they hate it. ...that's all, I think, that truly needs to be said. Those arguing both sides... you're both wrong, the lot of you, and I hope that this DmC debacle teaches you a thing or two about, not just subjectivity over one element... but videogames, a multimedia format ostensibly, people like and hate different elements of them for different reasons. So the lot of you, get off your high horses, because in many ways, you're all right.

But in a much more primitive way, you're all fucking wrong.

And with that, I'm done with this goddamn DmC debate. Forever. If you need me, I'll be in my trailer an- ohhh nooo the demmoons smashed up my trailleerrrr!!1!11

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