“Vergil’s Downfall, the first substantial story DLC produced for DmC, gives gamers the chance to again command the other Son of Sparda, wielding Yamato against Hell’s legion, in his own post-campaign narrative. For those of you that lit up at seeing Vergil’s playable inclusion to DMC3 back when the Special Edition released in 2006…Stow your excitement.”
Way back when, in an era where the PS2 ruled the world as a kindly emperor, one of the most renown and critically lauded action titles of the generation, Capcom’s Devil May Cry 3, got itself a Greatest Hits edition. Rather than simply reprinting the game and shelling it out at a slashed price, this re-release came with something a little extra special.
Along with the full DMC3 in all of its finger blistering glory, a separate campaign was offered where players got the chance to control Dante’s wicked brother, a streak of blue fury named Vergil. Vergil’s distinct move set, highlighted by his demonic sword Yamato, made for a sublimely enjoyable extension of an already stellar game. It was an extra mile of good times that perfectly complemented the main campaign.
Jump to 2013. Dante and his universe has been significantly rebooted and retooled. Though fans have been outspoken about their disdain for Ninja Theory’s drastically different take on the series, DmC certainly won over critics (myself included) with its brilliant, snappy combat and modernistic, grounded storytelling. The game may have been a radical departure, yet it still wisely reused assets from its predecessors, including fan favorite Vergil.
Vergil’s Downfall, the first substantial story DLC produced for DmC, gives gamers the chance to again command the other Son of Sparda, wielding Yamato against Hell’s legion, in his own post-campaign narrative. For those of you that lit up at seeing Vergil’s playable inclusion to DMC3 back when the Special Edition released in 2006…Stow your excitement.
The DLC’s over three-hour run offers up a blander mix up of DmC’s core conceits. Combat, platforming, mission design…It’s all distinctly worse than the finely tuned main campaign it follows.
The epilogue picks up as Vergil succumbs to the mortal wounds his brother begrudgingly delivered upon him at the end of DmC. Slipping from this plane, Vergil finds himself in a Hell tailored especially for him. You’re tasked with hacking up recycled hordes of demons as the blue Nephillim darkens his heart on a short quest to become a true villain.
While the story’s written well enough – though surely less dynamic than Dante’s – it’s not helped by awkwardly animated motion comics in place of cutscenes. We went from fully mo-capped bouts of cinematography to B-rate Flash animation. It’s jarring, but the degradation refuses to end there. Vergil himself plays more sluggishly than Dante and owns a much more limited assortment of skills and weapons. I had a harder time managing Vergil’s teleportations and flash in the pan moves, making him less responsive and less fluid than his brother. And never did I feel his floating swords matched the usefulness of Ebony and Ivory – the ladder being rapid-fire score enhancers, the former just being maddeningly slow. As you can imagine, successful juggles and huge combos suffer hugely.
Level design, while retaining the main game’s unique and abstract art direction, has taken a serious hit to functionality. The pull n’ yank platforming that involved your Angel and Demon powers has regressed into an imprecise and frustrating test of your patience. Even in the midst of a fight, I found myself plunging to my doom because areas were too damn small to go nuts with room clearing attacks, let alone aerial combat (where Angel pulling yourself up to an enemy usually means plummeting to death after their defeat).
It’s not all murky waters. Two wholly new demons enter the fray for your hacking amusement. Wisps, demons that require you to toss a floating sword at them before they’re vulnerable, force some tactical variance. The Imprisoners, though, offer an interesting challenge as the hulking freaks can lay damaging thorns all over the battlefield. Only when Vergil’s decked out with all of his abilities, did I start to have fun slicing and dicing. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d much rather be facing these new beasties as Dante – and therein lies this DLC’s greatest failure. Multiple difficulties and collectibles beckon replayability, but I found no reason to retread this broken path.
After eating yourself to contention on the three course meal that is DmC, Vergil’s Downfall is like that fatty dessert you know you shouldn’t try to scarf down but want to taste anyway. By the time you’ve finished it, the queasy, aching pain in your stomach will tell you what you already know: You really shouldn’t have eaten that shit in the first place.