E3 2012: Devil May Cry interview outs the essence of Ninja Theory, inspirations, technology and moreWritten by: / / No Comments
After being well and truly impressed by DmC during my hands-on time with Capcom and Ninja’s Theory’s high action title, I was fortunate enough to be able to absorb some additional Devil May Cry information and get even more impressions of the game at a presentation hosted by none other than studio head Tameem Antoniades.
The presentation focussed on the combat of Devil May Cry, with the use of protagonist Dante’s ‘Ebony and Ivory’ pistols as well as ‘Rebellion’ and his new Angel and Demon weapons, the scythe and axe, which also enable the game’s ‘Angel Lift’ and ‘Demon Pull’ abilities (as I learned about while playing earlier in the day).
We saw a mission that Tameem says is roughly halfway through DmC, set in a world where the demons run everything, from the media to the financial system: and even the city’s hottest club. This particular club is run by a demon called ‘Lillith,’ and it’s the club’s purpose to convert members of high society in the human world into demon collaborators.
After making a brutal entrance, Dante saunters into the club which is bumping with tons of patrons. This being the world of DmC, however, the demons soon pull Dante into the alternate world of Limbo, effectively removing the human element so Lillith can send wave after wave of demonic enemy at us in a series of psychedelic arenas and on surreal floating platforms, all set to a thumping dance-rock soundtrack.
As discussed in our hands-on preview, the combat of DmC is super stylish and encourages the use of chained attacks and combinations to rack up a score and multiplayer, all in an effort to achieve the very best rating (based on a letter grade all the way to the coveted ‘SSS’ rank). A huge range of sword attacks can be combined with Dante’s pistols, Angel scythe and Demon axe weapons with the ability to juggle enemies in the air.
Once in the player’s control, a demon is helpless to your barrage of attacks and is really at your whim ‒ lifting yourself up to attack an enemy in mid-air with Angel Lift, pulling it down to the ground again with Demon Pull, pumping that creature full of lead with Ebony and Ivory and carrying out intricate combo attacks with Dante’s armoury is all pulled off effortlessly and looks incredible.
Enemies can be attacked in different stages, too, like a new flying creature introduced at E3 that can have its wings shot off to send it crashing to the ground before being subjected to a flurry of ground attacks. In addition, there are other enemies like the ‘Rage’ demons which, when paired up together, co-ordinate attacks and become tougher. If you manage to kill one of the pair of enemies, the other will become enraged making it impossible to stagger it after an attack ‒ crucial to opening enemies up to further attacks.
In the club scene level on show, Dante needs to fight through a gauntlet of challenges and increasingly difficult enemies to ‘win an audience’ with Lillith, and as we made our way up the disco-floor walkways and suspended floors, the ‘Malice Mechanic’ of the game was once again in full effect as the world twisted, warped and transformed before our eyes. Colours and movement pulsated with the beat of the music and Lillith added an extra challenge to the gameplay, too.
At any time, players can modify their combat style to Angel (to use the scythe and Angel Lift) or Demon (to use the axe and Demon Pull) with the left or right trigger on the controller, but in this particular level Lillith converts certain blocks of the floor to automatically trigger Dante’s Angel and Demon abilities, effectively forcing us to make use of these abilities depending on where we were standing ‒ a very clever and mind-bending challenge!
Tameem pointed out something rather interesting during the demo, too, pointing out that we will be encouraged to play DmC in different ways, completing levels for style ranking (dispatching enemies with the most points), for completion (collecting all of the hidden items) or speed (finishing the level in the fastest time) – a range of choices that he says have been a tradition of Devil May Cry games.
Dante’s ‘Devil Trigger Mode’ was also showcased, where Dante “goes full demon” with white hair. In this mode, and after building up your Devil Trigger meter by destroying demons, you’ll be much faster and more powerful, while you’ll also regenerate all of your previously lost health.
Once Dante reached the end of his gauntlet of challenges, we came to the end of the demo and Tameem noted that, with the help of Capcom, there’s a great focus on making the combat of DmC tight and rewarding, going all the way down to the individual frame level – a level of gameplay detail usually reserved for competitive fighting games!
Ninja Theory, on the other hand, is instrumental in realising the world and story of the game, telling the tale of Dante and his rebellious, formative years and “how he becomes what he ends up becoming.”
With that, the floor was opened to questions and I got right down to it:
What would you say is the essence of a Ninja Theory game and how are you bringing that to DmC? Capcom is an Eastern company and you’re obviously a Western company ‒ how have those two philosophies come together?
“I think for us it’s: cinematic, it’s about making games that feel like big action films. We have, I think, quite a European art style which involves a lot of colour. I think those have been our hallmarks ‒ storytelling, cinematics and action, which is why Capcom Japan approached us.”
Is the main city that we’ve seen in DmC based on any real-world location? It appears very European with lots of graffiti in there too, while there are hints of Los Angeles as well.
“It’s based on, kind of, Parisian and Italian gothic architecture, so it feels more like that, I think. There’s also a street art element and a Berlin vibe, so that level is based on Berlin clubs, where you go into a backstreet and there’s just graffiti and you can’t tell it’s a club, but you go inside and there’s a massive rave. So it’s all kind of based on mostly European locales… I’m not sure where you got Los Angeles:”
That one sequence on the pier with the Ferris wheel?
“Ah yeah, yeah – so that’s effectively Santa Monica Pier!
But it’s not specifically stated where [DmC takes place] on Earth.”
Will we see the background of other characters and where they came from?
“Yeah, we will introduce a few characters and there will be other characters that people are familiar with.”
Ninja Theory is known for its animation and especially the facial animation of its games, can you talk about the animation system in DmC carrying on from Enslaved and Heavenly Sword?
“Yeah, so we developed that further and we started our own R&D team to work on better facial expressions. For [DmC] we used Giant Studios which had just come off the heels of Avatar, so we used all of the same setup that they used for Avatar and a lot of the same boom guys who just jumped in at the back after James Cameron did all the work.
We have Alex Garland as a story consultant on [DmC] so he’s helped us with the writing ‒ he’s the 28 Days Later and Sunshine guy.
So we’ve continued our trait but we haven’t really pushed [animation] on this game because everyone’s worry is ‘Can you make a good action game with that kind of combat’ so that’s where our focus is. Going forward I think we’ll show more of the other characters and story and the world.”
Can you talk a little bit about the technology powering the transformations of the levels in DmC, because we’ve never seen anything like it in a game before, it’s incredible. So can you talk a little bit about what kind of development went into that – research, that kind of thing?
“It all actually started with Capcom asking us justify why ‘demon doors’ appear in Devil May Cry ‒ why when you go into a room do demon doors appear? So then we thought, ‘OK, maybe there’s something sentient in the world, some demon influence in the world that tries to trap you.’ So if it’s sentient, maybe it’s alive and it’s got blood in it, so it pops out enemies like white blood cells. And that went on to ‘Maybe it’s got a low intelligence,’ so you see demon messages appear.
It all kind of just evolved during development. The technology is just lots of hard, hard work with animation.”
Devil May Cry is out on January 15th 2013 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while a PC version of the game is planned too. Read over El33tonline’s previous coverage of the game for videos, screenshots, as well as Lisa’s Captivate 2012 coverage.