Friday, January 18, 2013

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

Gameplay (5/10) - The gameplay of DmC is nothing special nor is it terrible. There are several unique elements in DmC's game design, including a lack of a lock-on system, switching of weapons by holding the shoulder buttons, two unique grapple abilities, and a large amount of platforming in addition to the standard fighting. These game design ideas all have their flaws, as the lack of a lock-on system causes fights in small areas to be difficult as it becomes hard to see targets as well as focus on specific enemies; the platforming becomes tired very quickly as there is little to no creativity in their design; and the use of shoulder buttons to switch weapons isn't too bad, but it can become cumbersome, especially when trying to pull off more advanced combos. Also, to note, boss fights are very uncreative, repetitive, and more frustrating than fun. Overall, the gameplay is nothing impressive, but it doesn't become frustrating until the game's latter half when fights become more difficult and the lack of a lock-on system becomes a real problem.

Graphics (4/10) - The graphics of DmC were perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game, as Ninja Theory has shown some good talent with graphics in the past, especially when it came to art direction. DmC, however, is boring when it comes art direction and very disappointing when it comes to the technical aspects of the graphics. The art direction of the game is defined by the colors: red, blue, and green. In theory, this could've worked, as red represents Dante/demons/evil, blue represents Virgil/angels/serenity, and green is when the two mix. The problem is that the stage art direction focuses on one color per stage, and the end result is a very boring presentation. Technically, everything wrong with the Unreal engine (texture pop-in, framerate issues, etc.) are here in spades, and overall the game just looks ugly. The only good thing to talk about is the motion capturing on the faces; unfortunately, good mocap is nothing special these days because everyone does it well now. The horror themes come through in the art direction, especially in the enemy design, but it gets tired very quickly (and later enemy design gets pretty bad).

Sound (4/10) - Dante's voice acting is great, Virgil, Kat, and Mundus are good; nothing else really stands out aside from that. The music is very forgetful, and at times quite unfitting.

Story (3/10) - There is nothing memorable in the story of DmC. Neither its characters nor its events are interesting or compelling. Furthermore, the tone of the story is very dark; which wouldn't be a bad thing if executed well, but here it's done quite poorly. Often, a story has a dark tone to provide a dark theme, or to allow for violence to occur more naturally in its setting, but with DmC, there is no real purpose to being dark. There is no real moral to the story, nor a building connection to the characters; everything just happens and that's it. Going off of that note, the story also has several moments that are just uncomfortable to watch. I guess Ninja Theory deserves a little credit for trying to build a character arc between Dante and Virgil, but it fails to live up to the excellent arc the two characters shared in DMC3; the same could be said for Dante's memory of his mother.

Replay Value (5/10) - If you enjoy the gameplay of DmC, you'll have a lot to play with. The stages are explorable and have secret rooms and Lost Souls to find as well. You can also go for the SSS ranks in each level; though it isn't very hard to get S ranks in DmC, especially compared to past DMC games.

Satisfaction (4/10) - DmC is not worth the time. It's weak in every aspect of its design, and it outshined by nearly all of its peers. The story is weak and sometimes disturbing, the music if forgetful, and the gameplay doesn't have any real punch to it.


The score I want to and should give it  - (4/10):  Ninja Theory really disappoints with DmC. A studio that I thought would at least provide an interesting visual experience and a good story provided a visually ugly game with a story that concerned itself more with being vulgar than telling a strong story of good vs. evil. A real shame considering the blank slate given to them with this reboot. They gave it a good shot with the gameplay, however, so I suppose they do deserve at least a little recognition. In the end, "unimpressive" is the word I'd use to describe DmC. As a stylish 3D-action game, it really doesn't live up to any of the standards set by its peers, even Ninja Theory's own Heavenly Sword.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Anarchy Reigns Review

Gameplay (6/10) - Overall, AR has some good design ideas throughout, but ultimately doesn't put enough depth into those ideas to be truly amazing. For example, the hub world stage deisgn of the story mode is a great idea, as it allows the player to explore the hub world, fight easier enemies, and interact with the environment; unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot to do in the hub world outside of searching for chests with extras in them. When looking at the multiplayer side of things, the stages have events that take place throughout the battles that effect the environment and can change the course of a battle; however, these events occur very frequently and have cutscenes that accompany them, and while the cutscenes may be short, they can really break up the flow of combat; if these events occured without any type of intro cutscene, they would be more tolerable. Speaking of flow, it is the lack of flow that my biggest gripe with the battle system. The battle system is the core of AR's gameplay, and while it isn't bad by any means, it really lacks a sense of flow; at least in most circumstances. This is mainly due to how combos are very hard to finish or follow up unless you and your opponent are alone in the battlefield. Other players, environmental hazards, and the stage events can easily break the flow of one's combo. This isn't a terrible flaw, but it definitely moves AR towards the "party brawler" side of the genre than arena fighter. Such a "flaw" won't be a problem for many though, as many will play AR just to have some crazy fun, which the game does provide as long as your not taking it too seriously. However, there is one major problem with AR, and that is the lack of split-screen multiplayer. In a game of this genre, not having such a feature is very surprising and quite a disappointment.

Graphics (8/10) - On a technical level, AR has some well detailed character models and really nice effects; there are also sections of the game that have an impressive amount of action occurring simultaneously. It is the art direction of AR that impresses the most. Most of the character designs are range from great to excellent, and the environments have some great art direction as well, especially the Hong Long stage, which is perhaps the most impressive set piece PlatinumGames has made yet. Perhaps what is most impressive are AR's cutscenes, which feature some truly amazing direction and technical detail. With all that said, Platinum has done more mind-blowing stuff in the past.

Sound (9.5/10) - Amazing stuff here all around. The music is catchy and perfectly fitting of the gameplay and graphics that AR provides. The voice acting is just as impressive with a superb cast reading an equally superb script.

Story (8/10) - AR has a surprisingly great story. The story is one of justice and corruption told from two polar points of view. The cast of characters isn't large, but the smaller cast ends up being quite effective. In fact its the characters and their views of justice that truly carry the story. The script for the game is superbly written and the voice acting is very well done.

Replay Value (8/10) - AR offers many different modes of play for online multiplayer battles, and the online community is alive and thriving. However, like any fighting game community, the online players are finding ways to win by any means necessary, so expect to see many of the better characters utilizing similar tactics in many battles.

Satisfaction (7/10) - AR provides a fun time for a while, but I find the gameplay wears thin over a short period of time. The story mode provides the most satisfaction by providing some fun missions, boss battles, and a great story.


The score I should and want to give it - (7.5/10): Anarchy Reigns doesn't really impress as much as Vanquish or Bayonetta, but it's still a fun time in both single player and multiplayer. Like Madworld, AR's legacy will live on with its soundtrack, which is its most impressive feature; however, its impressive story is also worth noting.