I've played the game through twice on Nephelim and SoS, currently on Dante must Die. Here are my thoughts on the game. And man do I have a lot to say about it, so incoming wall o' text.
It's not terrible. It's pretty fun, even. But it falls quite short of where I expect a DMC game to go. And the problem lies in it's combat. I won't talk about what we don't have (styles, speed, smoothness) and try to stick with that the game offers us.
There's an impressive number of combo strings available, and every time I play, I seem to come up with a new and effective combo method to dispatch of enemies. The trigger method of switching between weapons is pretty good, and seams in well with the pace of combos.
Guns function well. Once fully upgraded, Ebony and Ivory are vicious, the Revnant has excellent stopping power and can knock back waves on enemies with fireworks, and the Kabloeey is... kinda boring to use, but has a satisfying payoff.
All weapons have a nice variance to them, and bring very different uses in combat.
The levels. I like them. I welcome the platforming, and it makes traversing levels more entertaining than before. They are much more linear than ever before, which essentially gets rid of the exploration aspect entirely. But many others see this as getting rid of backtracking, which they're okay with. I understand that. As far the levels go, I don't much else to say than "I like them."
It's too easy to control the pace of many fights. The grapples let Dante fly all over the place at ease, and many enemies can be chased into oblivion with these grapples. Knocking most ground-based enemies up into the air is usually a death sentence for them, and many ground based enemies lack any sort of aerial attacks. Even if you're being swarmed on the floor, you can jump up and grapple enemies to you - the rest being unable to do ANYTHING to you basically ensures you're untouchable as long as there's an enemy to knock around in the air.
Weapons, although have a nice variance to them, are lacking. I'll get more into this later, but I'd like to point out that there are no outrageous/baffling weapons in the game. Every DMC had some sort of weapon/gun which seemed to make little to no sense, but brought excellent and creative ways to be stylish with them. Such as the Nevan, Lucifer, Pandora, Artemis/Knightmare B. In DmC, you just get a Sword, an Axe, a Scythe, Dark Sector, and a pair of ever-present heavy hitting gauntlets. For guns, you get the Ebony and Ivory, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher. Meh.
There's quite a few stronger enemies that can be cheesed very easily. Those tenacious chainsaw enemies for example - I discovered a way to essentially freeze them in place (even during their alleged 'unstoppable' attacks, although this seems to work less in DmD, it hasn't stopped working entirely.) It's hugely disappointing that so many higher-tier enemies can be rendered useless and unthreatening with ease.
There are, however, a few very high end powerful enemies which cannot be cheesed easily. The giant fat-baby enemies, which can only be harmed from behind. And the giant saw enemies which can only be harmed from the front. They're generally not a joke, and when one appears in a fight - you'd better not slack off. They're adequately threatening, and can be pretty difficult to fight. But they're not fun to fight. The fact that you can only harm them from the front/back, plus have LOADS of health isn't hard. It's tedious. And very out of place in a DMC game.
Perhaps the enemies I find the most fun to fight are (forgot what they're called) those dual-katana wielding demons. I think these guys are fun to fight, and genuinely feel like skilled and dangerous enemies, rather than big potato sacks that hit hard.
Perhaps the biggest failure of the combat is the enemies themselves. Namely, the 'Angelic/Demonic' enemies. You all know this already, but these enemies can only be harmed by weapons of their respective element. What a crock of shit. Ninja Theory, on top of many other baffling decisions in this game, I have to ask; What the fuck were you thinking here?
Throwing in enemies which can ONLY be harmed through the use of certain weapons is blatantly against the goals and sensibilities of any DMC game. It's not that this sucks because it's out of place for a DMC game. Nooo, this just plain fucking sucks. And I'll explain why.
Under ideal circumstances. You're free to string together attacks from 5 weapons and 3 guns. A pretty good ensemble to play with. But once angelic/demonic enemies appear, you're reduced to using a woeful 2 weapons. Even guns do not harm these enemies. Each of these enemies also have a ton of health. So I hope you enjoy using the same few attacks, because you WILL be using the same few attacks. Over, and over, and over, and over.
Out the window goes all the sense of style, all the wonder of combo exploration, all the freedom you had to go about the fight.
And guess what? As the game goes on, you encounter MORE angelic/demonic enemies. And on higher difficulties, you encounter EVEN MORE of them. What this means is, as the game goes on, your options are further limited. And that's just great. Being accessible is one thing. But you restrict even highest levels of DMC play down to spamming the same attacks over and over because enemies refuse to be harmed by other weapons is not difficult, is not a good idea, and is not fun.
That's not to say every late-game/high difficulty fight comprises entirely out out of waves of demonic/angelic enemies. But they WILL show up in every fight. And they WILL annoy you. Do you understand how frustrating it is to have a 50-hit combo going, cleaving through a huge wave of powerful enemies, and having your attacks suddenly screech to a halt because of some asshole demon happened to be blue?
Anyway. As a huge fan of the entire series, I'm not one that wanted to bury this game before it even came out. I was genuinely looking forward to see what Ninja Theory could do with it, and I wanted it to be good.
My closing thoughts on this game are: It's not bad. In some ways, it's pretty good. But falls incredibly short of the usual gameplay standards of a real DMC game. And gameplay is paramount to any DMC game. Due to the undoubtedly lower quality of combat, I deem this to be an undoubtedly lower-quality DMC game.
A fairly stimulating action game. Incredibly underwhelming Devil May Cry game. I am quite confused over the praise the game has been getting. Because even taken on it's own, it has A LOT of problems. The action struggles to go beyond tepid, and frequently approaches tedious and unfun.