Dante isn't the only Nephilim who's handy with a sword. The cocky half-demon may have hogged the spotlight in DmC: Devil May Cry, but his brother Vergil takes centre stage in Vergil's Downfall, an entertaining piece of downloadable content that offers a distinctly different take on DmC's combat, combines it with some beautiful anime-style cutscenes, and then chokes by tying it all together with a story that does little to make you care about its star. [SPOILER WARNING: The following review references plot points at the end of DmC]
Having been defeated at the hands of his own brother in DmC, Vergil is understandably a little miffed. But where it was easy to see the good in Vergil then, or at least relate to his character in some ways, here he walks the well-worn path of a full-on evil villain. Driven by the image of his own brother's betrayal and a ghostly spectre of himself, Vergil sets about exacting his revenge on Dante, or at least a vision that he has of Dante. Whether you're righting the real Dante, seeing a vision, or are merely in a dream is never full explained. Similarly confusing are the visions Vergil has of his mother in hell. But the brief spells of narrative aren't worth pondering over for too long: it's shallow stuff, and merely serves as a way of driving you from one fight to the next.
Thankfully, those fights are just as fun as ever and feel fresh thanks to Vergil's unique set of skills. Most of his attacks come as little surprise, being based on those demonstrated in the final battle from DmC, but they make for a welcome change of pace from Dante's repertoire. There's just a single melee weapon to get to grips with in the form of Vergil's Yamato sword, which dishes out all manner of long-range sword throws, sweeping swipes, and over-the-top uppercuts. There's a different, less-fluid timing to Vergil that makes him a tricky character to master, but you're rewarded with some spectacular-looking combos that deliver brutal punishment to the demons of hell.
Attacks can be modified using Vergil's angel and demon powers to land fast, wide-ranging blows and slow, powerful strikes, respectively. The difference in these attacks is jarring at first, each of them having the same staccato rhythm as Vergil's other moves. They soon come together, though, and it's not long before you're juggling beasties and earning those all-important S ratings. Vergil has some other tricks up his sleeve in the form of his teleportation move--a fast version of Dante's dodge--and new Devil Trigger powers that let you surround Vergil with a spinning array of swords and create a doppelganger.
It's the doppelganger that proves to be the most fun. Initially, the doppelganger mimics Vergil's moves. Once you upgrade the power, though, you can change the doppelganger's style of fighting using the D-pad, so you can dish out fast-paced angel attacks with Vergil, while the doppelganger finishes opponents off with some meaty demon attacks. You can even delay the doppelganger's attacks on command, which lets you set up ludicrously long combos as you move back and forth between his attacks and Vergil's.
None of this is easy to pull off, but there's a technical edge to Vergil that makes him particularly satisfying to play, and a boon for more dextrous players that found Dante too easy to master. It's a shame there aren't a wider variety of enemies for you to test your skills against, though. Outside of a single hulking beast, many of the enemies are simply carbon copies of those in the main game, and they're repeated often enough that they quickly become tiresome.
Similarly tiresome are the platforming sections, which are back and are more laborious than ever. As in DmC, you leap your way across platforms and teleport between them using Vergil's powers, but in Vergil's Downfall, some of the platforms rotate and disappear altogether until you hurl a sword at them. Precision is a must, but it's not easy given that the floaty jumping is geared for combat, not platforming.
Despite its foibles, Vergil's Downfall is a commendable piece of DLC. Its combat walks a very different path to that of the main game but is no less entertaining because of it. And the additional content is a looker, too; the 2D, anime-style cutscenes are a particular triumph, even if they don't tell the best of stories. No, you don't get to go another round with the excellent Dante, but Vergil's still quite the slugger, and different enough to offer a challenge to even the most technical of players.'