Gamescom 2011: DMC First Look Preview

Meet the angrier, street-brawling Dante of Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry "rebirth."

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When you merge Capcom's action combat know-how with Ninja Theory's storytelling experience, you get DMC: a Devil May Cry "rebirth" with recognizably stylish fighting wrapped around the origins story of an angrier, scrappier, brunette Dante. That's the pitch, at least. The makers of DMC are backing it up here at Gamescom 2011 with a first peek at their game's combat and a closer look at its controversially coiffed hero.

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Fluidity of character control is item number one on the development team's must-have list. "We've spent the bulk of our resources nailing that," says coproducer Motohide Eshiro. He also tells us how the action game experts at Capcom Japan are collaborating closely with the team at Cambridge-based Ninja Theory, with "bimonthly" studio visits at this point in development. It's not yet possible to say how fluid or otherwise combat feels (this being a hands-off presentation) but it looks the part, with more emphasis on aerial moves than in previous Devil May Cry titles.

Dante whips enemies up into the air and keeps them aloft with rapid fire from his dual pistols. He also launches himself up there to twist upside down and shoot baddies in the hang time. The key to the DMC's combo-based, aerial-focused combat is switching among Dante's three forms: human, angel, and demon. In these, Dante has access to different weapon and move sets; we see him swinging a spectral scythe in wide arcs in angel mode, a fiery axe in his demon mode, and sword and guns of his usual human form. Switching is performed on the fly with the controller triggers. It looks good, but in an action game, feel is everything. We're itching to put Ninja Theory's Dante through his paces ourselves.

Dante's infernal.
Dante's infernal.

As for the storytelling and "worldbuilding" that Ninja Theory brings to the project, DMC takes place in both the real world and limbo. Limbo is a demonic dimension that runs parallel to, and interferes with, the one occupied by humans. Dante, with a demonic heritage of his own, spends time in each place; in the Gamescom demo, he's dragged into the limbo dimension to do battle with spindly, pale-skinned, black-clad creatures swinging big, squared-off blades. At a few points, he also encounters the golden, ghostly shape of a girl--seemingly a human back in the real world who can speak to Dante while he's in limbo. In the demo, she drops in to help guide Dante through the limbo environment when it turns on him like a malevolent funhouse. The European-looking, narrow city streets crack and tilt crazily, fall away to reveal lava pits, or rear up while the buildings on either side squeeze in to crush him. "The city itself is trying to stop you," she tells him.

You might spot Ninja Theory's fingerprints on DMC's reimagined Dante and its lightly "satirical" limbo. The story of the game is "about how Dante becomes the way he is" and, as the game starts, "he's young…much more aggressive, more angry…much more of a street brawler than in previous Devil May Crys," says creative director Tameem Antoniades. Dante as Ninja Theory's disenfranchised youth "has a lot of rage," along with "no prospects and no employment." Ninja Theory's limbo, meanwhile, is a surveillance society, packed with CCTV cameras housing demonic eyeballs. And in a secret-area type of level, away from the city, Dante navigates free-floating road sections. He also encounters combat arenas with, in the tradition of Devil May Cry games, impassable barriers that must be brought down by clearing the place of enemies. Here, we see floating rocks, giant red banners, and orange-leaved trees, in a lush, colorful style reminiscent of parts of Ninja Theory's Enslaved.

Yet to be seen are the "familiar faces" the developers promise to fans of the Capcom series, as well as the combat ranking system that will reward style, variety, and damage to score every battle. Not only that, says Antoniades, as battle rank increases, more elements of music will be layered into a scene, with the chorus kicking in at the highest ranks. We'll look forward to seeing that in action the next time we catch DMC.

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