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Sore Thumbs

1/23/2013

sore thumbs dmc1‘DMC: DEVIL MAY CRY’ (M)

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Capcom

Xbox 360

It’s the age of the reboot, and even gun-toting demonslayers are not immune to the occasional reimagining. Corny, albino-haired Dante has been reborn as aloof, brunette Dante amid the objections of outraged fanboys everywhere. However, those who abstain from this latest adventure into limbo based on their distaste for their hero’s new hairdo will be doing themselves a disservice. In terms of appearance, gameplay and narrative, this is the most polished “DMC” yet. This new Dante is the spawn of a demonic father and angelic mother, both of whom suffered at the hands of the game’s villain and require a thorough avenging. The game’s quest will take you across surreal dreamscapes consisting of writhing, twisted buildings that spontaneously crumble into floating debris or coalesce into forbidding battlefields. Fixed camera angles are a thing of the past. This is a “DMC” for the post-“God of War” era of breathtaking vistas of incalculable size.

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Honoring its forebears, this is a game primarily about stylish hack-n-slash combat. In addition to his trademark twin pistols, Dante is armed with a slough of slow-but-powerful demonic melee weapons and weak-but-swift angelic melee weapons, conveniently segregated by the left and right triggers. It’s a challenging but intuitive system that, when mastered, can allow you to utilize every weapon in your arsenal in the course of a single continuous combo. Dante’s steadily growing skillset is so fun to use, you’ll likely be disappointed when the boss battles boil down to simple pattern recognition rather than the weaponized ballet representing the bulk of the game. But overall, this is everything a longtime “DMC” fan could want. Even our too-cool-for-school, perpetually unimpressed, rebooted hero would have to give it credit.

 

sore thumbs retrobox‘RETRO CITY RAMPAGE (T)

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Vblank Entertainment Inc.

Xbox Live Arcade

If the original “Grand Theft Auto” had been built for the Nintendo Entertainment System, it would’ve looked a lot like “Retro City Rampage.” The titular berg of Theftropolis may as well be a low-res Liberty City, with all the sardonic wit and jack-able cars we’ve come to expect. Sadly, the game also plays as smoothly as one might speculate an ’80s-era “GTA” would, which is to say, not very smoothly at all. Vehicles feel alternately sluggish and floaty, and customizing things like your character’s haircut seems pointless since the difference between one hairstyle and the next is only a pixel or two. Still, it’s worth a play just for the abundance of clever references to the movies and games of the 1980s.

 

sore thumbs earthbox‘EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 2017’ (T)

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D3Publisher

PlayStation Vita

The interactive equivalent of a sci-fi B movie, “Earth Defense Force 2017” has you battling overgrown bugs, killer robots and flying saucers — pretty much everything but an attacking 50-foot woman. The game itself, first released in 2007, has come to be regarded as a low-budget cult classic. The environments still look cheap and generic and are invariably destroyed by your efforts to defend them, but the bite-sized missions are actually a perfect fit for a portable platform. You can swiftly exterminate a swarm of giant ants, pocket your Vita and get on with your day. CV

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