Almost two months have passed since DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom’s first attempt at rebooting its popular third-person action series, slashed its way onto store shelves. Shining a new light on main character Dante and his demon-filled origin story, the game was a hit with critics, predominantly as a result of its fluid, polished and addicting combat system. However, critical acclaim doesn’t always result in great sales figures, which the revamp’s Japanese publisher and British development team have unfortunately learned, as they’ve had to decrease their predicted sales figures due to a lack of success in the East. Let’s hope things will change on that front, though, because their hard work deserves commendation.
While things have quieted down on the retail front, some new buzz has been created around the title, thanks to the release of its first major downloadable add-on, Vergil’s Downfall. Formerly utilized as a way to entice gamers to put a few hard-earned dollars down on a DmC pre-order, the pack is notable for shifting its focus from one Son of Sparda to another. You see, Dante’s story has been told – at least for now. This time around, his blood (and fellow Nephilim) Vergil takes the spotlight.
Set after the brother-on-brother boss battle that concluded the aforementioned on-disc campaign, Vergil’s Downfall sees the demon and angel spawn battle through his own personal Hell. Shown as a destroyed realm filled with decay and death, not to mention dangerous demons, the environment is nice to look at, but lacks variety. In fact, that theme echoes through the entire, six mission-long mini-campaign, which clocks in at a paltry two hours in length.
Those who are familiar with the franchise will have a good idea of what to expect from this offering – especially when it comes to the storyline. That’s because what’s presented chronicles Vergil’s rather quick fall into rage. Forced to deal with an overwhelming amount of anger following what he perceived to be betrayal at the hands of his brother, he’s looking for revenge, and that’s obvious from the start. Dante regularly factors in as a mirage of sorts, taunting Vergil and fuelling his anger.
What’s good about the canon content presented here is that it gives Vergil a chance to step out of the shadows and into the limelight. Unfortunately, however, therein lies this pack’s major issue – its ho-hum nature. Sure, it was nice to get a chance to play as Vergil within this reinvented DmC: Devil May Cry world, but the experience failed to reach the same height as its retail peer did back in January. It’s not due to a lack of polish, though, as the six newly introduced missions are glitch-free and run well. In fact, the pack’s problems are two fold, with one pertaining to a lack of narrative depth and cohesion, while the other falls into the gameplay category. Needless to say, those who are looking for a thorough and unforgettable expansion won’t find it here – especially where the narrative is concerned. Vergil, pre-order purchasers and general DmC fans all deserved a richer sub-story than this short, basic and somewhat uninspired take.
Now, while the storyline is important, most will agree that gameplay is the most important thing when it comes to the Devil May Cry series, as well as its designated genre. In my review of the core game, I referenced how much I enjoyed fighting demons as Dante. Ninja Theory did an impressive job of mixing swordplay, gunplay and secondary options together in a cohesive, addicting and easy to learn but hard to master kind of way. Each level offered an opportunity to battle unfavourable odds with style, and that’s what I wanted from a reboot like this.
Going into Vergil’s Downfall, my hope was that Vergil would be as much of a badass as his brother was, but that didn’t end up being the case. Although there were a lot of prominent similarities to be found between the new protagonist’s mechanics and his brother’s fluid outputs, the two didn’t match up in terms of overall quality. Vergil did possess a few impressive moves – most of which were tied to his angel mode – but his core swordplay skills were simply too basic, lacking part of the ever-important fluidity factor. The only real standout was the option to summon a doppelganger to assist during combat, but that only became available during the sixth and final stage.
In the end, this pre-order bonus/paid add-on is only slightly above the mediocrity line, which is certainly disappointing. There was a lot of promise to be found in Ninja Theory’s latest undertaking, but the final result didn’t live up to that hype. It’s simply too short and basic, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that some of the included vistas are nice to look at, thanks to starry designs and even an oddly positioned waterfall.
This review is based on the PS3 version of the game, which we were provided with.