The character action genre is hard to fully define considering how wildly different one title can be from the next, but it largely comes from the stylish combat defined by Capcom’s 2001 milestone, Devil May Cry. DMC’s action design was so strong that it could seamlessly transition between melee and ranged combat, where you can launch an enemy into the air with your sword and juggle them with gunfire. These fast fights are made from a simple yet complete moveset that works well at different distances. Director Hideki Kamiya translated hack ‘n slash games and brawlers into three dimensions, emphasizing twitch action and fair but challenging difficulty by imbuing it with fighting game mechanics and systems that grade your performance in real time. It offers players the means to create spectacular combat sequences where the goal isn’t just to defeat your enemy but to stylishly wreck them.
To understand how it all came together, we have to look at DMC’s family tree.
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The five destroyers in BAHRAM’s air armada equipped with particle cannons and support turrets are perfect for wiping out any who oppose the political faction, and only a high-performance super machine that combines an artificial intelligence with human ingenuity can overcome it. In Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, you systematically breach this fleet by unleashing locked-on lasers and homing missiles, and melt the ships’ cores with point blank fire from your high-output Vulcan Cannon. The battle above Vascillia is an epic mission that requires man and machine to harmonize into one being, and represents the important relationship that has built between the two.
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On Characterizing Potential
Devil May Cry 3’s first fight between the twins Dante and Vergil is set at the highest point of a large tower jabbing from the Earth, lit by the full moon. The differences between the brothers’ fighting styles are as striking as their fashion senses, the hot-headed Dante in his red trench coat unleashing his Rebellion sword and dual pistols a contrast to the cool-as-ice Vergil in his blue jacket and air slicing katana, Yamato. The two rivals clash swords and exchange gunfire, taking advantage of any opening in the other’s defense to chop ‘em down. And then they flaunt their success with a cool taunt, unconcerned by the time it takes to mock their opponent. Every second of this brawl is intense and fast, and, by product of the game’s design, requires the player to fully realize the personalities of the sons of the legendary demon warrior Sparda.
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God Hand’s penultimate fight pits Gene against his rival Azel in a knuckle-breaking slug-fest that demands that the player understands every pillar of the games mechanics. To stop him from resurrecting the ancient devil Angra, you need to pick and choose your moves to beat his, to reposition to gain a tactical advantage, and to bob and weave around counter attacks that can lead into a button mashing power struggle you’ll feel all the way down your arm. And just like main character Gene, Azel can activate the supreme powers in his arm and execute a fast-action barrage thanks to his God Hand. To beat him, you need the full cooperation of a focused mind and tuned body.
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Adam Freeland’s ‘Fear’ is an inspired anthem for the push into Rez’s fifth area. The true expression of its ideas, Rez uses its slow opening tempo to kick start a metaphor for the beats of early life, the sample ‘Fear is the mind killer’ scratched over the vacant landscape of a vast digital world as you blast a squadron of enemy planes out of the sky. The techno-trance composition builds as the environment does, the basic geometry evolving terrain and developing an ecosystem of flora and fauna. But it’s also a lyrical representation of its central theme. Rez is a sensory saga of sound and light, a metaphor for the pursuit of knowledge and the quest for enlightenment.
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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is celebrated for how it critiques social engineering, Hideo Kojima having crafted a theme that shows how controls built into the social fabric of a culture can shape an individual’s thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. The story and game progression do an outstanding job of subtly running players through a simulation of the events of MGS1’s Shadow Moses incident as the rookie Raiden, forcing them to question whether their actions were truly their own or if they had been molded into a clone of Shadow Moses’ legendary hero Solid Snake.
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