Haters May Cry: A Study of Nerd Rage
My thoughts on the Devil May Cry reboot.
I have seen some pretty bad cases of Nerd Rage in recent years; Michael Bay’s butchery of Transformers, The Amazing Spider-Man’s great divide, and more recently the insane reaction from fans when The Dark Knight Rises was not the best thing since sliced bread. This however, must take the cake.
Back when game developers Ninja Theory revealed that they were going to be ‘reinventing’ one of fellow developer Capcom’s most treasured franchises I knew what was coming… They were going to reboot Devil May Cry. At the time I could see the chain of events that would follow and unfortunately I was not far off from what transpired. Hard core fans of the series immediately rose up in protest of such an audacious decision, threatening wide scale boycotts and social media campaigns against Ninja Theory. Since the announcement the UK-based studio has been more or less been stripped by the internet, smeared with honey and thrown aside for trolls and haters to feed on. I genuinely feel for Ninja Theory as they knew they would be in a no-win situation when they undertook this task. If they opted to reboot the franchise they would be met with a tsunami of rage from reactionary fans, if they went ahead with the familiar then they would be slammed for being unoriginal.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…
So, rather than recycle stock character tropes and storylines Ninja Theory decided to go ahead with their reinvention in the face of massive opposition. Do I think that they made the right call? Hell yes!
The recent exhibition of “DMC”, the title of this reboot, at Gamescom 2012 has reaffirmed my faith in the developers and the daring direction they are taking this beleaguered franchise.
For those of you who do not know about the lore of the Devil May Cry universe I can provide a brief explanation. The series revolves around a self-styled ‘Demon Hunter’ called Dante, a rebellious maverick with a cocky attitude but a good heart. Dante is the son of Sparda, a legendary demon knight who rebelled and fought against his own kind for the sake of humanity. Dante and his twin brother Vergil lost their mother to an attack by demons when they were young and later ended up going their separate ways at an undisclosed time. Driven by a burning desire to avenge the death of his mother and to uphold his father’s legacy Dante ruthlessly hunts the spawn of the underworld that creep through to the human world whilst moonlighting as a private detective and mercenary through his shop the “Devil May Cry”.
The premise was solid, the story was great, and the action was stellar, but the series eventually tail span into absurdity and ran itself into the ground with its latest instalment “Devil May Cry 4”. While it was not a bad game Devil May Cry 4 was unable to plaster over the cracks in the narrative that were clearly starting to show, these characters had run their course and it was time for them to move on. Personally my main problem with the original series is that it got far too melodramatic and theatrical, something that I think got worse with each new title. Repetition was also a problem, there are only so many times one could listen to long-winded speeches about “The sons of Sparda” before they started skipping cut scenes and muting their TV’s. The settings of the games also got a bit weird; Dante could be fighting in the middle of a city street one minute and find himself in the middle of a jungle the next, where is the consistency there?
Then we get this trailer from Ninja Theory, this is what they are aiming for and frankly I am very impressed.
This trailer is what I hope has started winning people over to the new direction of the franchise, it is a setting well and truly cemented in our world. In this reinvented world Dante is a young repeat offender, orphaned after the death of his mother, who has been on the run from authorities for most of his life thus far. The authorities that are persecuting him turn out to be demons that have subtly enslaved the population of Limbo City, the game’s central setting. Numerous allusions to aspects of our real world are made in the story; Surveillance cameras implying an Orwellian-like regime, the “Raptor News Network” and it’s presenter bearing too much of a resemblance to FOX News and Bill O’Reilly to be a coincidence, and the mention of an oppressive banking system adding further relativity to the story. One could even make the connection between the masked narrator seen in the trailer and the infamous group “Anonymous”, which is a very anti-establishment group on the internet.
To make things even more interesting demonic forces are so prevalent in Limbo City that they are able to draw Dante into a twisted version of the city, something I feel echoes scenes from the movie “Constantine”. It looks fascinating and I think it is a great way to create environmental variety whilst not sacrificing plausibility in the process. Dante is drawn into helping a resistance movement known as “The Order”, a group wanting to overthrow the oppressive regime when he discovers that it is being led by his twin brother Vergil.
I feel there are a few reasons fans have had such bad cases of nerd rage over this reboot, and hardly any of them are valid. I feel the need to address the issue haters have the most, shame really because it is a feeble reason to hate on a game not even released yet.
“Dante looks like emo twilight spawn”
If you ask me he looks like a punk. His attire and features have clearly had influence from old-school British rock/punk music (Sex Pistols & Motorhead), which makes sense when you consider Ninja Theory is a UK-based developer. People need to stop this immature trend of branding everything with the iron of Twilight and realise there are more colours than black and white. Are fans really this upset about losing their white fair-haired pretty boy who himself would not look out-of-place on the set of a tween-romance movie? It’s sad, it’s really sad when the primary reason people end up hating a game prematurely purely because of a change in the way a character looks. It does not matter if the fans consider the character an icon, icons change – always have and always will.
I’ll finish with a great quote from a senior member of the development team that I feel every single hater and troll of this reboot needs to read.
“If it were sacrilege to change icons, we’d still be stuck with 60’s Batman,” argues Tameem Antoniades, creative director on the reboot. “Batman survived reinvention and is stronger and enduring as a result. Superman by comparison is tired and stuck in a past that holds little interest. Capcom felt it was time for a reinvention and came to us. So we have to honour that and take the risks we feel necessary to redefine Dante.”
Are haters really this shallow? For the love of god give this a go and see if you end up surprising yourself.
DMC is out on PlayStation 3 and Xbox360 early next year.