DmC Definitive Edition Review
Hello action fans and welcome to our effective review and technical analysis on the latest re-release to hit now gen machines of the PS4 and XboxOne, the definitive edition no less of Ninja Theory’s adaption of the classic Capcom franchise, all yours for £20. So the price seems about right but what does this new version offer up from the last gen versions.
First thing if you had a medium spec PC then this pretty much offers up nothing more than having the DLC with Virgil’s missions thrown in and the improved frame-rate.
Let’s re-cap over the story of the game from the 2013 release. You play the younger, more angst youth Dante in this re-boot. Now devoid of overtly sexual overtones that the Japanese original had with some strong Cosplay style outfits dropped in favour of a grittier, grungy style complete with some synth rock, vodka fuelled nights of debauchery, friendly dancers that introduce themselves and us to the new Dante. With no styled white hair in-sight but a simple short, action cut, action vest and the wind beneath your..erm.. leg’s you step into the light. Not long in we find that the demons are still not your greatest fans with frequent trips to limbo happening throughout the game, this being the underworld that you dip into and out of sometimes needed to progress further in the stages. Being given a long but detailed tutorial section at the start we learn the relevant base skills of our hero along with his lost brother then he never knew, Virgil. Realising that your mother and father (the mighty Spada) where slain by the demon king Mundas who is controlling the world with £’s and Pop, brain-washing the masses to dance to his beat, with our mission set to change the tempo and seek revenge for our parents injustice.
The story is not stunning but it is good enough to offer up a decent level of interest to work through this demonic tail of revenge, with convincing enough voice work throughout the cast that varies from young and pretty to pretty damn ugly. Taking a largely different approach to the DMC games gone by from Capcom with the MT framework engine being dropped, in favour of the Unreal 3 engine which brings with it (on last gen at least) quite a few changes. Devil May Cry 4 was a lovely clean looking game on last gen 360/PS3 that not only ran at 60fps like previous DMC games but also sported a full 720p resolution and 2xMSAA the game is still now a very clean example of last gen with crisp detail on the gothic architecture in the game, helped by the faster 60fps update than DmC on the same machines. But this not the only change with the combat, level and entire game flow changed drastically from 4. With 4 favouring a fixed camera view in most of the game ala Res Evil in many places, the combat and exploration flows with you entering a room, it being locked off until you can clear it and open the exit. This helps keep the framerate smooth and limit the view so that the fast frame-rate can be kept at all times. Puzzles are another area that took a strong lead in Devil May Cry with as much if not more path finding, puzzle solving as actual combat, meaning the flow of the game was steady and not rushed even though at the time DMC was always known for its fast paced action. With the boss battles being extreme demon creatures that require pattern learning DmC turns a lot of this on its head and even at the 30fps of last gen is a much more fast and frantic game with less reliance on brain flexing as skull kicking. Puzzle sections are very much a limited side of the game outside of using your heaven or hell weapon to traverse the environment with the ability to pull out platforms or swing across chasms with a very subtle marker for where these are…well maybe not subtle. But this allows the game to flow much faster with an even greater emphasis on streaming cool combo’s together and juggling enemies with your sword, arbiter axe or Osiris scythe not forgetting your duel pistols affectionately names ebony & ivory. By balancing these attacks into a flow you can keep your combo counter running with the pistols used to keep enemies high as you draw closer, swipe them up in the air slicing them with you scythe or sword. Stringing these into an epic flow is very satisfying with the use of left and right triggers for each along with attack sequence and timing it all adds to a simple to learn but hard to master approach that is more gratifying early on than previous games. This skill base is also extended to the map travel with you having to link dash, pull and swing into sets that can take some time to learn but all pays off as you extend your repertoire for each weapon as you collect orbs and spend them throughout the mission. With a solid narrative than although cheesy with far too much teenage moodiness thrown in the game does entertain and delivers a very satisfying hack & slash that will draw you in with simple attacks while you rack up the hours learning even more, hitting hidden challenge rooms for more bonus and skills. And it even comes with the Virgil DLC story add-on that allows you to use his alternative weapons across his own shorter story that from the price is a great set of value.
But how much has this all changed from last-gen (as I say aside PC), well not really a great deal outside of the single biggest one, framerate. Now we see a return to the Franchise roots with the 60fps returning for both machines doubling the 30 we saw here from 360. The performance on 360 was very good overall with gameplay staying at the 30fps target nicely throughout with real-time cut-scenes seeing the only drops as heavy alpha/transparency work hits causing drops to low 20’s but these are rare, it hits the target well and in play is never a concern. Now I will have my X1/PS4 head 2 head up as soon as my X1 copy arrives but for now we have the PS4 version to see how the update fairs. And as you can see the 60fps is running well with actions and cut-scenes all running at the crisp 60 target with no drops present across a good run of over 5 minutes of footage mixing traversal, combat and cinematics I record 1 dip when flipping from in-game scene to action and again a couple more frames when zipping through a level, most likely a streaming issue again. But over a 5 minute run we get a 59.98 fps average across the range with any dips again happening when saving or loading mostly from cinematics and the like that do not effect gameplay. We see a constant run of action that no matter the amount of enemies or explosions on screen it all runs at the target with no drama.
And this is to be expected really with the game having received no visual polish at all but being a simple DX11 PC port across the board. The textures are barely of a higher quality than the 360 with only some sections on clothes or specular having a minimal higher quality, some of this helped from the jump up from the 720 to a native 1080 but this also helps highlight how low quality most of the textures are with roads, signs and screens all showing the last gen roots clear as day. Shadow map’s are of a slightly higher quality along with shading all looking identical to the top level PC release but like them they are not a revolutionary change from the last gen consoles. With the higher resolution you can notice more aliasing on lighter reflection edges than on 360 with what looks to be the same FXAA solution used with less blur aided from the over 2x resolution increase but numbers always sound more than they are. Another odd change from the 360 to PS4 is at least one of the scenes early on has been edited with the loss of these sequence dropped from the new PS4 version. Now I am not sure if this was just that it was a bit of a chance to edit out some cringe dialogue or an odd form of censorship but if this also does not appear in the X1 version as I suspect then maybe some others scenes have seen the same editing room attention but from my first 5 hours or so I have not noticed any more changes but if so they do not harm the story any.
So with the performance having a decent increase the visuals are far more disappointing and again with it being an Unreal Engine game it also sports very low 2 or maybe 4x at best Anisotropic filtering in play that seems to be a big worry for many at this point. My suspicion that the X1 version will probably have a better filter set than the PS4 and maybe even not see the 2 minor dips from streaming as seen here. Now my assumption is the X1 will also sport a native 1080 resolution as the PS4 version does with the same performance lock but with the above improvements, the reason I think this is simple. As you may know from my previous videos on consoles the PS4 has 2 API’S the low level GNM and much higher level GNMX, (1st party and others can also chose to go lower than this if wanted for even further performance gains but these are rare and need a steady programming hand for sure and not for the faint of heart). With the GNM API this requires far more management and work than the Wrapper GNMX which mimics the DX11 fixed function hardware states much closer, with this comes more overhead from not only the CPU/GPU but also bandwidth as it takes care of memory states, functions within each stage from the APP to the driver then hardware. This could have limits on its feature set along with performance that is just not worth the effort spent, as I say this is just my assumption, one that I look forward to adding more info from when the X1 version ships and I will cover in my Head 2 Head. For now my assumption is that Dx11 is still large portion of development with PC and X1 able to share this code pretty much identically so games like this, Evolve, Alien Isolation maybe even Dying Light using this API may be the reason we see some of the issues we have. But I stress I am only going on an informed guess here with me having no facts to back this up, either way it is a game that with the low rez textures anyway this filtering can be noticed at points quite easily and for such last gen assets the bandwidth restriction not matter how constrained from an additional overhead API should not apply.
If you never played this on last gen or PC and are in the mood for a fun slash-em-up then for the £20/$35 price tag and extra DLC it is a game I can certainly recommend, if you fall into the group who hated the destruction of Dante to Emo goth then this is not going to change that 60fps or not, but the game has a good balance and design that will deliver many hours of enjoyment within its reasonably deep combat system.