Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NFNC: Video Game of the Year - 2013: The Winner

Greetings one and all!

By now I am sure you are all chomping at the bit to find out just what I have elected to be recipient of the first hardly sought after annual award:

Well without further ado, let's reveal who the winner is:

Yes for those of you who've been following my posts, this is probably of no surprise.

Out of all the games released in 2013 on PC that I have had the pleasure of playing DMC: Devil May Cry is stand out the best there is!

If you had asked me this time last year if I would be saying this I'd have told you to take a running jump.

I had played all the previous versions including the (unfortunately) console exclusives and out of all of them only #4 with the excellently characterised Nero did I actually feel it worth discussing. But even then I would not have said it was worthy of Game of the Year.

With the reimagining of DMC the developing team Ninja Theory (responsible for the equally excellent Enslaved [see the previous Worthy Mentions]) have taken an obnoxious character with about as much depth and personality as a damp mop and turned him into a character with believable emotions and personality.

Make no mistake, there are certain "Dante" character traits that are still there, but they are portrayed in a more believable and realistic manner which in turn make the character a lot less annoying.

Of course you can't have a DMC reimagining with Dante and no Virgil.

In this version of the world he is once again very much the same character we are used to, only now with a real world twist.

But that's not it for the main characters involved, as you have the female character, a stable for the DMC games to date.

Enter Kat.
Gone are the girls in silly cat suits who's literally only role in the game is as eye candy. Kat's role as the suggested love conflict between brothers is an actual practical character, she acts very often as the eyes and ears for Dante, but also a necessary means for which he can escape limbo.

This brings us on to the game itself.

Often the story is told in 'The Real World' with normal humans going about their normal days. Unseen in a sideways world is 'Limbo' where most of the combat occurs. This is the place where Dante is dragged in order to fight the demons of the game and allows for them to set the game in a world not unlike our own but not have the issues of explaining why there are demons and monsters everywhere.

This however is where one of the problems becomes apparent.

Limbo is red. Very very red and after a while I found myself longing to have more gameplay in the real world, maybe some espionage missions where without my main weapons empowered by Limbo I had little choice but to hide from the slaved human thralls of the demons.

There are occasional shifts however, and I think this is most obvious in one level set in a nightclub where the traditional reds we are by now accustomed to are replaced by vivid blues, greens and yellows.

Then there's the gameplay, undoubtably one of the game's strongest features.

Like previous Devil May Cry games, the game play is a solid form of combo generators, fluid animations and lots of sword & gun play.

But compared to previous games it has been tuned into a much more fluid beast. It is very rarely that you encounter a weapon combo that feels jarred or sluggish. Instead everything flows seamlessly from one animation to the other, often allowing you to forget that you're essentially just pressing buttons in a certain combination, and instead you're just doing it.

I should also mention that the game has been superbly mapped for PC. Far too often controls are designed for a game pad and the moment you introduce a mouse and keyboard the button combos are all over the place (press S for a quick melee, press ] for a slow melee as a random, completely made up, example). This is not the case for DMC. Be it control pad or keyboard, the controls are fluid and intuitive.

Finally we have the story.

I'm not about to spoil anything, but as I have mentioned previously, the emotional attachment you feel for the characters is strong. Ninja Theory play on this, throwing your beloved Demon Hunters into situations that will genuinely cause you to feel for them during their lows, and rejoice in their highs.

These sort of action based, arcade style, almost beat-em-up games are not known for their indepth story and narrative, but despite being split up into separate levels, this is achieved extremely well due to the story being portrayed in an almost episodic format.

The best thing about this of course, is that at any point you can stop playing in between missions, and the storyline feels convenient to do so. Not that you'll want to stop mind you.

And so that's what we have! A brilliant game that managed to from day one of its release remain my top game of the entire year of 2013.

If you haven't played it, I seriously recommend you do, so that you too can share in the immersive, witty and enjoyable experience that is DMC: Devil May Cry.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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