Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shatterblog!: DmC: Devil May Cry Vergil's Downfall Review

Sorry I didn't get this up yesterday when the DLC released, but there were issues redeeming my preorder code for it. However it's all shiny now, so buckle in.
First off, this DLC picks up immediately after the events of the main DmC campaign. As such...


All right that's out of the way. So as you know by this point, hopefully, DmC has a big twist after defeating Mundus. Much to the surprise of no one, especially anyone even somewhat familiar with the other Devil May Cry games, Vergil is a total asshole and not a cool bro at all.  The main story ends with him saying he only overthrew Mundus so that he and Dante could rule the galaxy as brother and brother. Dante is not ok with this and proceeds to go all Devil Trigger on Vergil's ass. He defeats Vergil and drives Rebellion through the bastard's heart. However, Kat whines some and begs him to spare Vergil's life because she feels some attachment to him still for saving her from her awful life (for more on this, read the DmC prequel comic books, available digitally). Dante swears to become the protector of earth and mankind while Vergil slinks away through a portal. The DLC picks up with him in a Limbo version of the home he and Dante shared as kids. You progress through the story of him generally becoming more evil and powerful, into the huge threat we know he must eventually become (since this "reboot" loosely connects with the other Devil May Cry games). While I will keep the spoilers light, I will point out that there are many parallels between this DLC and all the sequences from DmC that take place within Dante.

Most importantly in the DLC to a glorious spectacle fighter, the combat! Naturally DmC's fantastic system of  racking up points for higher ranks remains untouched. However, the DLC differs in a very critical way: Vergil does not play like Dante. This is not a reskin of our favorite asshole, perhaps with a hammer instead of an axe. This is a brand new character, despite some similarities. The Yamato, Vergil's katana,  is a bit faster than Rebellion, but doesn't have quite the oomph. Vergil shoots little swords of light rather than rapid firing pistols. This is actually a great gameplay element, because these swords are important to grappling and such since Vergil lacks the Angel/Demon pulls. As the DLC progresses you unlock Angel and Demon modes but rather than giving you a new weapon they just adapt the moveset of the Yamato. In Angel mode you specialize in large sweeping attacks, and with Demon you have slow powerful strikes. This is just like the main game's use of these modes, just with different attacks. I find Vergil to be more mobile, since rather than pulling or rolling he uses teleports, and his Angel mode attacks generate a lot more movement than Dante's. In fact my favorite little combo in the game, main and DLC both, is the charged Demon smash to launch enemies, Angel attacks to damage a bit, then Demon smash down to the ground. It's impossible to capture just through text, but with those skills fully upgraded it is a blast.

The new Wisp enemy in action! Notice the sword embedded to keep it tangible.
The upgrade and item system is once again intact from the main game. More Health Cross fragments are crammed into each level and there are no secret doors or keys, but otherwise it is very similar. Vergil has less moves in his arsenal, because in a 2 hour DLC you simply don't need as many. There are no alternate weapons which limits you to the Yamato and your spectral swords. Not that the combat suffers for it. Your combos start out just being a lot of mashing attack and juggling, but once you get the Angel/Demon modes it get's way more fun. Vergil also has several flavors of Devil Trigger attacks. You start out with 5 units of Devil Trigger. For 3 units you can make swords whirl around your body, or for one unit each you can have swords shoot an enemy or surround then impale an enemy. Later in the DLC you get your true Devil Trigger, which having done the last bossfight you know is Vergil's Doppelganger  It's a lot of fun, especially with both upgrades (I won't spoil those for you). I generally disliked Dante's Devil Trigger and find Vergil's to be way more fun. My only real complaint about the combat is by the time you have both modes and your Devil Trigger, with enough upgrade points to have a few extra moves, the DLC is nearly over. Obviously a core concept of DmC is replaying for higher scores, but I wish the DLC was a bit longer. The DLC also introduces several cool new enemies, including Wisps which are intangible until pierced with one of your illusory swords and the tank-like Imprisoner who smashes lots. Neither is groundbreakingly different but a little enemy variety is fun.

Not crazy about the art on the cutscenes, but it's different.
One of the main game's strong points was the beautiful art style paired with incredible level design. This is largely still true in Vergil's Downfall. While the levels never quite reach the high bar of the better DmC stages, they're fun and cool with all the Limbo-y goodness you expect. One minor issue is a little less variety than the main game, but this serves a thematic purpose in some places and of course there's less variety in 6 stages than 20. It happens. They do introduce new platforming elements, such as portals to go through and ethereal platforms you have to shoot with a magic sword to temporarily solidify. A major change between the main game and the DLC is in the style of the cutscenes. Rather than the smooth transition of DmC, these cutscenes are done in a comicy inFamous style. While that isn't inherently bad, it does lead to a less smooth transition and I don't particularly like the art style here. Sometimes detail has to be sacrificed to keep DLC priced reasonably and I get that, I just don't like the execution personally.

The story is good, with lots of cool concepts. It's a little out there, even compared to DmC but it manages to sell itself and get at least this fan hyped for the sequel that I desperately hope happens. There is one really fun bossfight, which isn't quite as good as the Dante v Vergil bout of the main story but competes and is similar in that the environmental effects get cooler as the fight progresses. The DLC is fun, no vast improvements or changes from the main game but different enough to be fun. If you liked DmC itself you will like this nearly as much, and I highly recommend it. 8.75/10

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