Every month you can watch reviews and read our thoughts on the games we've been playing, old and new. This month we have two video reviews for you to watch. Lucky you.
Devil May Cry V
I’ve been in a weird position recently, and I don’t mean that one where you’re squatting underneath the table in the living room rubbing reduced salt butter into your bare thighs. No, I’m talking about trying to figure out an approach to talk about the coolest fucking game I’ve played in a long time - Devil May Cry 5. The series has always been cool, but this game take the cool biscuit, the cool biscuit jar and your cool kitchen. It’s marvellous, it’s challenging and it’s a pure throwback to the glory days of the PlayStation 2.
Where to start with this game? Well, they say you eat first with your eyes, although I imagine that would be pretty messy and uncomfortable, although it would explain why Joe’s always covered in mayonnaise. Anyway, I’m not going to obsessively talk about how stunning DMC5 is, but this is a seriously good looking game; the beauty of this game is in the design. The locations are brilliantly inventive and the attention to detail is amazing; Red Grave is full of little British things, like those orange road barriers, cheap bright white garden furniture and a huge tree that lives on human blood.
For me though, the beauty of the design is realised best in the legions of demons you’ll meet and beat throughout the game. There’s a few series long-stays that rock up from time to time, but otherwise you’ll be fighting enemies that are covered in pulsating, engorged veins with their wild eyes and blunt weapons coming your way. It’s thematic design at its best, the corrupted nature of the Qliphoth controls and destroys everything it touches. It’s both beautiful and horrific, which sums up the game pretty well.
Talking about beautiful, let's finally talk about the three gorgeous elephants in the room, Dante, Nero and your big sandalled goth boyfriend V. Starting with Dante and Nero, these boys are seriously good looking; Dante looks older than before with some embarrassingly sparse silver stubble, but he’s the perfect evolution of that original design, so daft and over the top that he goes from being cool to uncool and all the way round to being cool again. Nero is more distinct this time around, no longer a Dante-a-like, with selection of very cool robotic arms replacing that big daft demon arm from Devil May Cry 4. Nero’s youth still shines through, adding to his cocksure attitude and massive tantrums when he feels left out.
V is the new boy in class and he’s something else entirely; while Dante and Nero are definitely two very sexy peas in an even sexier pod, V is scrawny, weaker and far more mysterious. He looks like Kylo Ren’s wee brother, although he’s covered in very on trend tattoos. V’s fighting style is completely fresh for the series too, giving a nice variety to the action. Essentially, he’s like the Pokemon trainer from Smash Brothers, using Shadow for melee, Griffon for projectile attacks and Nightmare for when everything has gone wrong. He’s fresh, fun and exactly what this game needed to knock it to the next level.
Talking about combat, it would be foolish of us to finish a review of a Devil May Cry game without mentioning that this entry in the series is head and shoulders above, not just this series, but pretty much every other hack and slash game going at the moment, even, whisper it, Bayonetta 2. Dante has access to an incredibly varied selection of weapons, from the more pedestrian swords and gauntlets to magic hats, double rocket launchers and an actual motorbike, while Nero has a plethora of Devil Breakers to choose from with abilities ranging from big electric shocks to actually being able to slow down time. You’ll unlock loads of moves for each weapon, and in Dante’s case, fighting style too, and stringing together combos is as satisfying as ever.
Even for a pretty bad Devil May Cry player like myself, regularly getting S, SS and even SSS ranked combos isn’t out of the question.
Devil May Cry 5 is as essential as the series has ever been. Every aspect of the game has been ramped up to beyond 11 and it’s going to be a hard act to follow. Capcom has had a pretty great year, with Monster Hunter World, Resident Evil 2 and Mega Man 11 showing that they can still set the high bar for other publishers to follow. DMC5 blew my mind in the same way the original did almost 18 long years ago and I’ll be genuinely surprised if five better games get released this year. In fact, I’ll be V-ery surprised. Geddit?
Dead or Alive 6
No word of a lie, Dead or Alive is probably my favourite fighting game series. I know I’ve lost any street-cred I may have had from the pro-gamer community but that’s just the way I roll. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is the greatest fighting game ever made, but when it comes to my fighting game of choice for a night in with pals, Dead or Alive always wins. And Dead or Alive 6 continues the trend of being fun, exciting and exhilarating all at once - apart from a couple of issues. I’ll get to those, don’t worry.
First, the good stuff. If you were worried that DoA6 was a bit of a sequel in name only, then you’ll be pleased to see that the visuals have taken a real step up from DoA5. This is the first game built from the ground up for PS4 instead of ported from PS3 after all. What I really appreciate is that DoA6 steps back from the gritty realism of DoA5, and recaptures the stylised, arcade look of the older DoA games, only updated with some beautiful effects and current-gem magic. It looks great.
It flows wonderfully too. The secret to Dead or Alive’s success has always been how physical it feels. Fighters limbs lock and react realistically, where in Tekken the fighters can sometimes feel like big boxes pushing against each other. It really matters here, because Dead or Alive’s famous counter system returns; punches and kicks can be held and countered in a split second, and every animation looks brutal and feels oh so satisfying to pull off.
Scott and I were cheering every second or two playing this game to get footage, and even when we were at the receiving end of a horrific beating, it was always entertaining to watch.
Playing on the couch with a pal has always been the best way to play fighting games, and Dead or Alive 6 has that magic one-more-go quality a fighting game needs. It helps that fights are so quick and the outcome hangs on a knife-edge; you’re only ever one counter away from losing.
A new special counter and combo move for each fighter works as a great comeback mechanic too; the special meter beneath your health that fills up during the fight will allow you to pull them off, and they’re much simpler and more rewarding to pull off than Dead or Alive 5’s weird cinematic combos.
Before you get too excited though, I have to warn you of a major cardinal sin in Dead or Alive 6: there is no tag battle mode. The number one reason Dead or Alive has been such a mainstay of our fighting game sessions here at Bit Socket is because the tag battle mode has always been incredible amounts of fun, and the fact that Dead or Alive 6 doesn’t have one is a crime punishable by a long stretch in Kilmarnock jail.
That’s not the only issue I have to address. You know what I’m talking about. It’s something that’s dogged the series for years, bringing down the reputation of every new game in the series for a long time now. I’m talking, of course, about Dead or Alive 2. What did you think I was talking about?
You see, Dead or Alive 2 is still the one to beat, and almost 20 years later I don’t think that’s changed. Dead or Alive 2 was the game that put the series on the map, and introduced a lot of what makes the series so special: the tag battles, the multi-level arenas, the focus on incredible graphics. DoA2 pushed the limits of the Dreamcast and PS2 back in the day, and it still looks and plays phenomenally well, to the point where you have to ask: what about Dead or Alive 6 is actually better than Dead or Alive 2? Alright, there are more characters and it looks nicer, but DoA 2 is still a looker!
It’s also lacking the tag mode, and as good as the arenas look, nothing compares to Dragon Hills from DoA2.
As intricate as the story mode is, and as good as the mission mode is, I still think the simplicity of DoA2’s one-player offering helped it to be more compelling and addictive; something I could happily play every day because it wasn’t a chore.
This goes for all fighting games by the way. Why are folk so obsessed with shit story modes full of terrible cutscenes? Every modern fighting game has one and they’re a ball ache to get through, while Dead or Alive 2’s story mode was simple: choose a fighter, win half a dozen fights and watch a couple of 30-second cutscenes. All that time and effort spent making massive, intricate timelines of fully-animated cutscenes, and all for the purpose of being a big thing in a fighting game I’ll probably never finish because I can’t be arsed.
I can’t be too down on Dead or Alive 6 though. It’s still a game that Scott and I had a blast playing round after round together with. It helps that you can use the simpler counter system from DoA2 in this game, over the more complex system of recent games. The game come within inches of DoA2’s greatness. It is a brilliant game, but it’s not quite the best in the series, and that’s a shame.
Dead or Alive 6 is fun, technical, fast-paced and exciting to play. It’s probably the best fighting game on PS4 right now, or it would be if you couldn’t just play Virtua Fighter in the arcade in Yakuza 6. It’s just a shame that for all the advances the PS4 has over the Dreamcast, Dead or Alive 2 remains the king.
Played it until I got tired of it – so about halfway. Undeniably a great game, but I’m a Bloodborne Boy at heart. Although I could soon be a Sekiro Sibling pretty soon.
Gran Turismo Sport
After Ace Combat 7 and Rez Infinite, GT Sport is the other reason I got a PSVR. Racing about the Tokyo highways in a GT86 and being able to look out the window and up at the skyscrapers like I’m actually there is a treat.
Shenmue 1 & 2
Ok, it’s not made for PSVR but let me tell you; standing at the Yokosuka docks and looking around in first person using PSVR’s cinema mode was an emotional moment. God I can’t wait for Shenmue 3.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Early days, but this could be one of the best FromSoftware games I’ve played so far. Fresh feel, fresh look, bold swagger all over the place. Mid-bosses are challenging and fun, the actual bosses are ridiculous. I love it.