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DmC: Devil May Cry’s protagonist Dante is more likable than ever

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If you haven't played the new DmC: Devil May Cry demo yet, you should get on that. I just finished playing it, and I've got to say, it is one hot slice of pie. The new version of protagonist Dante — who seems like one of the most universally hated character redesigns in recent history if you believe message boards — already appeals to me way more than the old Dante ever did.

For me, Old Dante will always epitomize that ridiculous cutscene where he's eating pizza, fighting demons, flipping chairs, and striking poses, all while spouting cheesy lines like, "This party's getting crazy! Let's rock!" and "I can already tell, looks like this is going to be one hell of a party!"

He reeked of trying too hard to be cool.

Is new Dante trying a little too much to be edgy? Sure, but I'll take him over old Dante any day.

 

DmC's writing is a lot subtler, and Dante has a simple, straightforward charm. He and his companion, Kat, run into danger and split up. They reunite a few minutes later.

"There you are," Kat exclaims, relieved to see him.

"Here I am," Dante says with easy confidence.

Still, this new Dante is no stranger to cocky flamboyance, but now, it's refreshing instead of cringe-inducing. At least in this demo, it never feels forced.

It helps that the new game seems like it'll actually be fun to play. The old releases in the franchise never seemed to care about this quaint concept, preferring to revel in their unrelenting difficulty like a bare-chested Ninja Gaiden wearing skintight leather pants. By the time I'd gotten through the first fight in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, I was ready to put the game down. It was exhausting.

DmC lets you ramp the difficulty up to sadomasochistic levels if you're into that kind of thing, but it seems more concerned in giving you a good time. It smartly uses its loading screens to demonstrate the kind of crazy, super-long combo you can get yourself into if you can manage to wrap your head around everything Dante can do.

He's got you covered if you're just looking to flip guys into the air and shoot them with two pistols, but the real fun lies in his new angel and devil attacks. Hold a trigger for angel mode, and Dante will pull out a scythe for quick, stylish combos, or hold the other trigger for his devil mode complete with flaming axe that deals heavy damage. Sometimes, you'll need to use one mode or the other to kill certain enemies, but most of the time, you're free to go with whatever strikes your fancy. And for me, that meant carving bad guys with my spinning scythe high above the ground. You know, like an angel.

DmC: Devil May Cry 2

Dante can also use these combat modes to launch himself toward an enemy or pull it to him, respectively. It's a cool carryover from Devil May Cry 4 that makes it really easy to keep moving through a fight and keep the pace up. Be aggressive enough and you'll be able to activate Devil Trigger mode that brings Dante back to his white-haired, red-jacketed roots, grinding the world around him to a standstill.

But the coolest part of the demo is undoubtedly Limbo City. The level itself more than anything wants Dante dead, reshaping at will to break him, bury him, and kill him.

As Dante passes through an alleyway, buildings desperate to crush him grate together violently. The word "FALL" scrawls onto a cobblestone road as it breaks apart beneath Dante's feet and stretches impossibly, ripping a bellowing chasm below. The world shifts angrily to Dante's presence, a howling whisper echoes, "KILL DANTE."

This is the kind of reality-bending fantasy I've wanted to see in games for a long time, and it's executed marvelously here.

The old guard Devil May Cry fans can lament the death of their dear Dante all they want. I couldn't be happier with the change.

DmC: Devil May Cry will release on Jan. 15, 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


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