We've always wanted to big up Ninja Theory, but the studio has a habit of dropping the ball. Previous title, Enslaved was a good game, but the combat wasn't impressive enough to make it great. So, the announcement of DmC came with mixed feelings: we wanted it to be a success, but also feared that it wasn't likely. The dev didn't seem to have the experience, and hero Dante doesn't suffer fools gladly.
But we were wrong. The glorious news for Dante fans is that the panic's over - Ninja Theory has truly delivered the goods with DmC: Devil May Cry. This is a brand new game with a brand new Dante, but the exhilaration that DmC invokes is a glorious throwback to 2001. The first Devil May Cry game was like nothing we'd ever seen, and could only be fairly described as "absolutely [expletive deleted] awesome". With this Ninja-helmed outing, the sweary buzz is back, and we can't wait to play more.
Talk of the Devil
In previous hands-on demos we couldn't quite get to grips with using the left and right triggers to switch between angelic and demonic attacks. However, playing the story from the start, the learning curve is smooth enough to embrace new techniques and tactics like a boss. But this is only scraping the surface: by the end of the third level you have enough techniques to chain together seriously advanced combos. Each new enemy requires a new approach, and devising tactics for each is hugely satisfying.
You can re-spec your skill points at any stage, and the loading screens show a silhouette of Dante pulling off some basic combo chains that you should learn. It's a nice touch that encourages you to experiment - especially when it comes to juggling foes and switching between weapons halfway through a combo. We'll need to play a lot more before we can make a final judgement, but there's a chance that DmC might be on par with Bayonetta.
As with previous games in the series, there isn't a block button. You can roll to dodge attacks by tapping RB, or counter by striking towards an enemy just as their attack is about to hit. Their weapons will gleam just before they strike - as will yours when the timing is right to transition into an alternate combo. The traditional complexities have all been streamlined so that you can focus on the depth that the angelic and demonic moves add.
Ninja Theory's retelling of Dante's backstory is as strong as you could have hoped for, and the final layer of visual polish has transformed DmC from an ugly duckling into a gorgeous, blood-soaked swan. This is the best Devil May Cry game we've played in years - and could even be the best action game of 2013. The competition needs to watch out: Dante is back in business.