The announcement of DmC: Devil May Cry was met with mostly disappointment from longtime fans. With development outsourced to Ninja Theory and a redesign of Dante, players immediately dismissed the game as another failed reboot that was made too soon. When it was finally released, there were still naysayers, but enough players are convinced that Ninja Theory were the appropriate developer to continue the franchise. A few months after the main game's release, we get the first piece of substantial content with Vergil's Downfall.
Unlike the first DLC for the game, this one is story-based and takes place after the end of the main game, making it a big spoiler for those who haven't finished the title. We find Dante's brother, Vergil, in really bad shape. Limping along and missing his heart, he falls dead in front of a grave and is transported to Hell. Through the campaign, you see what transforms him into a more formidable being.
The change in locales marks a big difference in the game, and it isn't necessarily a positive one. While the main game had imaginative locations in Limbo, Hell is more benign. You see lots of floating pieces of land and broken buildings, but a lot of it feels like pieces of the core game cobbled together and given a red tint. Worse, the first and last levels of this DLC pack are exactly the same, with very little variation to prevent a sense of dájà vu. It looks fine, but some new assets wouldn't have hurt.
Using Vergil is both similar and different when compared to using Dante. He can use the air dash to traverse large chasms, but he's more dependent on teleportation and bringing objects closer to him, so he isn't that acrobatic. While this is fine most of the time, it can be annoying when faced with some timed platforming sections, as his lack of agility makes these sections painful. It's a good thing you don't encounter them too often. His projectiles, in the form of telekinetic daggers, are slower than Dante's pistols and less flashy. Unlike his brother, he only has access to one weapon, and that weapon stays the same whether you're in angel or devil mode.
Playing with Vergil means you have to play at a much different cadence. You can unleash a flurry of quick moves with his angel stance, but as expected, they're much weaker than his normal attacks, which aren't exactly quick, either. His devil attacks are very slow but strong. By sticking with those quick moves, you can play in almost a button-mashing style, but that'll often punish you with very low ranks and lots of hits. The juggling of move speeds is what'll get you through, and despite the toning down of the speed, the precision is what makes the combat fun. Again, it feels different but familiar enough that fans won't need to adjust too much, keeping them addicted throughout the numerous fights.
Speaking of fighting, the game introduces a new monster in the form of the wisp, a flying creature that's rather tough to take down because it constantly darts around the screen via teleportation. Other than that, expect the game to follow the same tried-and-true pattern of leading you into large, open areas to face down mobs of monsters. It is familiar, but it works and you don't exactly get tired of the pattern. The only gripe is that the boss fights aren't as exciting as expected, so you'll enjoy the regular fights more, especially in later levels, when there's some variety to the type of monsters.
The DLC offers some thrilling combat just like the core game, but it also suffers from the same flaw in that it is rather short. At the default difficulty, an average player can barrel through the mode in a little under three hours, complete with a few deaths here and there that are padded with a generous checkpoint system. The various difficulty levels really alter the game, from increased damage taken to one-hit kills for both parties. There's also a leaderboard system for all of the six stages, along with collectibles hidden away in some rather tucked-away places. This is some rather packed DLC, even if it doesn't seem like that at first.
From a technical standpoint, there's not much difference between this DLC and the main game on both the graphical and audio fronts. The look is still great, holding at a very steady 30 frames per second, and the voice work is also just as good since all of the major players reprise their parts. The only difference lies in the cut scenes, which use a slightly animated comic style as opposed to in-engine graphics. At first, the disconnect feels odd, especially since some of the opening cut scenes in a level transition directly into in-game graphics, but after a while, you appreciate the style change and wouldn't have minded if the whole game had adopted it.
For 720 Microsoft points ($9), DmC: Devil May Cry - Vergil's Downfall is a short but fun experience that does a good job of extending the main game and serving as a bridge for a possible sequel. The gameplay is a little different, and the weapon selection isn't as varied, but the challenge is just right, especially with its plethora of difficulty levels. While it won't convert those who hated the game or felt lukewarm about it, it's a worthy piece of DLC for everyone else.
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