For some time now, a small but viciously proactive section of the Devil May Cry community has devoted itself not simply to publicly disliking, but outright destroying Ninja Theory's reboot DmC: Devil May Cry. Another, equally pestilent minority of fans has devoted itself to crushing and ousting these "haters" by fair means or foul. The spew of caricatures, ad hominems and expletives below Matt's latest video represents the crest of a wave that's been drowning all debate on the subject since January, when Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades revealed that his team had received death threats over their handling of the game.
Neither side is entirely in the right. A portion of the hatred for DmC derives from bigotry - sneery presumptions that Western developers don't "get" Japanese design, contempt for the newly boyish punk rocker Dante. Another portion of that hatred, however, is based on fundamentally reasonable concerns about whether a team of Ninja Theory's pedigree is capable of doing this smart, surgical, ultra-technical series justice. The Cambridge-based independent has developed some fine games with unsurpassed narrative and artistic direction, but it has never managed to design a combat system that rewards repeated exposure. Enslaved, in particular, was a game of two halves - one of the most engaging, sympathetic and intelligent stories on the block, matched to gameplay where you endlessly regurgitate the same four-button combo.
After playing for eight hours on Nephilim difficulty - around half the campaign plus an hour or two in the optional challenge rooms - I'm finding it difficult to dislike the new Devil May Cry, but I'll concede that if you're a practised player, there are legitimate grounds for annoyance. DmC is every inch a reboot, dispensing with some of the knottier aspects of the series in order to capture the attention of those who don't know how to string a Stinger, High Roller and Aerial Rave together. That doesn't make it "simplistic", however - Ninja Theory has cherry-picked features from around the Devil May Cry timeline and introduced a few of their own, resulting in a game that, while not as intricate as Devil May Cry 3, soundly trumps the likes of Castlevania: Lord of Shadows or God of War for complexity.
To revise one of the more frequently heard complaints, DmC is a slower game than Devil May Cry 4. The frame rate is locked at 30 to accommodate some dramatic dynamic environments, and the younger Dante's swings feel heavier and less controlled - the basic four-hit combo, for instance, terminates in a wild sweep that leaves him jumping on one foot. There's more telegraphing, too - weapons glint to advertise combo opportunities or an imminent attack, and some cunningly arranged enemy sound effects alert you to their movements when they're not on-screen (a blessing indeed, given the new manual camera).
It's been claimed there are fewer combos than in prior games. I haven't been back and counted, but I can't say I'm struck by the shortage of options in battle, and in any case, the worth of a tool is surely more important than how many tools you have access to. Weapons are, at least, plentiful - besides Dante's trusty Rebellion Sword and Ebony & Ivory pistols, I've run into the heavy-duty Arbiter axe for ground-level beatdowns, the Osiris scythe for aerial work and the Eryx gauntlets, which can be charged for an extra-severe pounding.