Before continuing, we recommend reading this - it will explain the intentions of the Expansive Overview and what it sets out to achieve. 

Congratulations, you’re a part of history! This is the inaugural edition of the Expansive Overview.

In this first installment, we’ll be looking at Ninja Theory’s latest offering, DmC: Devil May Cry.

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Ninja Theory
Release Date: January 15th 2013  (January 23rd – PC)
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Version Tested: Xbox 360

We’ve noticed it for a while now, but with DmC you can really tell that developers have pushed the current-generation of consoles to their absolute limit. DmC isn’t sluggish in any sense of the word, let’s be clear on that, but there are regular slowdowns, hiccups, stutters and loading screens peppered throughout the game. A simple transition between menu screens can cause a sudden jolt. There are regular loading times between missions and the inability to skip a cut-scene without waiting for the game to catch-up.  Most noticeably, when you finish a mission, there is a long, screen-freezing pause before your statistics can be displayed.

These issues will not detract from your enjoyment of the game. None of them are fundamental flaws, neither are they game-breaking or overly disruptive, but they’re definitely noticeable.

We’re doubtful a patch update would fix these issues on 360 to make the experience more seamless. The amount of data being processed between these points is immense and the 360 has rapidly become old hardware. We do believe it’s more of an issue with the hardware than software, though. Then again, we’ve not tested PS3 and PC versions of the game.

Fortunately, the rest of the game is pitch perfect. Ninja Theory have clearly fine-tuned, tweaked, revamped, then tinkered some more to bring DmC up to standard, and it shows. Not only is the combat well-balanced, but the game responds to every action – no matter how dynamic – effortlessly. It’s even responsive when Dante is surrounded and about to get his head caved-in. DmC doesn’t buckle under such strenuous activity; it even manages to look and sound damn good while it’s doing it.

DmC is a full package, providing you want to invest the time to get everything out of it. For starters, each weapon can be fully upgraded with a variety of different moves of varying strength and duration. There are also unlockable secrets – such as new costumes and weapon skins – when the game is completed on a particular difficulty.

In addition to the feature-length, twenty level campaign (that will take around 7-8 hours to finish, dependent on difficulty) there are also a series of Secret Missions to find and complete, each with their own set requirements. All mission stats are logged via DmC’s online leaderboard where your abilities are compared with the rest of the world.

There are also a fair number of side-objectives to beat; all of which necessitate and encourage at least a second play-through. For example, players must hack through Lost Souls hidden at various points in each level. Some of the Lost Souls can only be reached once Dante collects a particular weapon from the campaign (Once you’ve beaten DmC, all weapons are unlocked).

The game also offers a variety of different modes and difficulties, including the punishing Son of Sparda setting and Heaven and Hell Mode (every character is given 1 HP by default, including Dante)

All of this without the forthcoming Bloody Palace.

Bloody Palace

Bloody Palace will be a familiar favorite to Devil May Cry fans the world over. Since Devil May Cry 2, this brutal, single-elimination tournament has encouraged the one-man soldier, Dante, to fight through inconceivable hordes of enemies on floors of a ‘Palace’. While Devil May Cry 2 and 3 required players to fight through 9999 (yeah, really) floors, including fights with every boss in both aforementioned games, Devil May Cry 4 drastically reduced the number to 101.

Rewards vary from game to game. While Devil May Cry 2 gives players nothing for their efforts, Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition gives characters’ their super costume without having to complete the campaign on Dante/Vergil Must Die Modes.

We don’t know what rewards will be supplied with the DmC version of the mode. What we do know is that it will arrive as a free title update shortly after launch, feature over 100 floors and five boss battles, and can only be accessed once the game has been completed. Capcom have praised the ‘superior weapon and move load out – when you make your first foray into this challenging mode.’

It’s likely Ninja Theory prioritized main-game polishing (as we alluded to earlier) during the final push towards launch, thus development on Bloody Palace fell just shy of coming bundled on the disc.

Bloody Palace is clearly meant to be on-disc content, though;  that’s why it’s appearing as a free update, rather than premium DLC. However, we fully expect Capcom and Ninja Theory to expand on this mode in the months to come. The opportunity for new maps, characters, weapons and enemies  is surely a no-brainer. While we’d greatly like to see more story-line driven content, we reckon Bloody Palace add-ons will make up the bulk of forthcoming DmC DLC.

At present, no achievements or trophies seem to be associated with the mode. Given the mode’s legacy, however, we’re expecting a few to come  supplied with the title update.

 

 

Start as you mean to go on

Start as you mean to go on

Vergil’s Downfall

Vergil’s Downfall acts as a prequel to DmC, focusing on his journey toward the events of the main game. Players will interact with his struggles through a particularly twisted Limbo, and come to understand how it has shaped and defined him.

In addition to playing Vergil, the content will also feature new items, enemies and moves, including many abilities Vergil had in Devil May Cry 3, such as Slash Dimension, Air Trick and Summoned Swords. He’ll also be able to use a new ability that summons a silhouette to help him out in a tough spot.

This trailer will give you some background.

While this content is free to people who pre-order from EB Games and Gamestop, it will also be available to purchase after launch for 720 Microsoft Points or $8.99 USD on PSN. There’s currently no word on PC availability, nor do we have an exact release date for the content.

We’re looking forward to seeing how this marries up with the events in DmC. We’re also hopeful that at least one more story-driven DLC will appear; perhaps another focused on Vergil, but following on from the events of the main game. Ideally, we want to see a content pack focused around Kat, Dante’s female assistant. She possesses some unique, psychic abilities that could create some intriguing gameplay possibilities between Limbo and the real world.

We’d also be keen on seeing a DLC focused around Kyle Ryder, and how he developed into the game’s main antagonist.

Costume Pack 01

We’ve gleaned details on the first costume pack for DmC. So far, these packs are keeping very much in the spirit of the universe Ninja Theory have created. We’ve got Neo Dante on the left, dressed up in a skin-tight top and red-wraps. Then we’ve got Dark Dante on the right, black cloak, black trousers, black top. Neither Dante resembles previous depictions, and while that’s a surprising choice considering the expected demand, we think it might be for the best.

That being said, there is still a mystery third costume yet to be revealed. It wouldn’t surprise us if ‘old-school’ Dante did make an appearance. Based on the current fan outcry, sales of the costume pack would probably double (even triple) the expected amount made should he appear.

 

Neo, Dark and a mystery
Conclusion
At this stage, DmC doesn’t need the copious amounts of content its set to receive. It neither requires, nor is defined by its forthcoming DLC. Bloody Palace and Vergil’s Downfall are the very definition of optional extras; yet they’re enticing extras, nevertheless.

Players don’t need to know about Vergil’s background to appreciate the impact he has on the main story – there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the main game – but by experiencing it, they will not only gain a better handle on the motivations and aspirations of the character, but they’ll also get to see more of this crazed world from the twisted imagination of Ninja Theory, and from a different perspective.

Likewise, even if Bloody Palace was supposed to be on-disc content, the game already has at least 2-3 play-throughs’ worth bundled on it. For an Action/Adventure, there is a lot to see and do. However, Bloody Palace is a series staple, and it will offer bigger, bolder challenges for truly hardcore Devil May Cry fans.

We’re happy to see this level of support so early on in a games’ life-cycle, and think DmC will enjoy a long, fulfilling 2013 with plenty more content to come.

Still, as a stand-alone package, DmC: Devil May Cry is an absolute blast.

Be sure to look out for our reviews of both Bloody Palace and Vergil’s Downfall in the coming weeks.