Saturday, 5 September 2015

Devil's Third

Devil's Third achieves something remarkable, in that it's batshit crazy without being amusingly batshit crazy. It's not the granny that insists she invented Tuesday, but the granddad that waits until you've taken him into a crowded lift to shit himself. The story opens with you, the muscly and hilariously over-tattooed Ivan, escaping Guantanamo Bay. This Guantanamo Bay is not only in chaos, but is also rather unrealistically crammed full of white people who are immediately identifiable as dangerous criminals. Subtle, nuanced, and realistic this ain't.

Developed by Valhalla Game Studios and out now for Wii U comes Devil's Third, the latest batshit insane game by mastermind/lunatic Tomonobu Itagaki. Once into the game you can get on with the standard videogame business of saving the world. You do this by making bits of everybody you meet explode, be it with firearms or melee weapons. You get to use both, with aiming down the sights throwing you into first person mode. The problem with aiming down the sights is that the controls for this are... what's the word... crap. Fight with the sensitivity options all you like, you'll still have the dexterity of a hippo using a Rubik's cube when attempting precise fire.

That's not to say that the game's unplayable. Thanks to the terrible enemy AI, you usually have a generous amount of time to fumble around lining up a shot, and running in to carve up/ruthlessly bludgeon people with your melee weapon of choice is – like much of the game – brainless, but valid, fun. In keeping with this, there are plenty of opportunities to make things EXPLODE and you're often accompanied by marines who like to SHOUT CLICHED LINES while you BLOW PEOPLE'S FUCKING HEADS OFF. There are even HIDEOUS MUTANTS LATER ON. Ahem...

The bosses are a bit of a mixed bunch, but generally drag the imperfect experience down still further by forcing you into melee-only combat. They're super-fast, super-powerful, and super-accurate; you on the other hand grope the controls in a panic like a sweaty teenage boy encountering his first bra, trying to block, dodge and counter rather than repeatedly somersault into walls and attack the boss's invisible friend. The online modes share the offline problems; in addition to the dodgy aiming, the graphics are almost ten years out of date, and the frame rate is regularly iffy. Nonetheless, there are already enough people playing to make games viable, even if there aren't enough to ensure every game mode gets some love. You get deathmatches, a capture mode, a melee-only mode (which works very well, as your opponents all have the same controls as you), and a chicken-capturing mode. Yes, a chicken-capturing mode, deal with it.

At level 5 you get access to Siege, which is probably meant to be the main mode. It's a complicated – I'd say over complicated – clan-based system where everybody competes for control of a virtual North America. You don't have to join a clan to play, but joining one means you earn more in-game cash. Matches themselves are at a basic level one team defending a fortress and another attacking it, but explaining this in full would require a small book and lots of patience. I will say this: If you join a clan and repeatedly launch attacks which you usually/always lose, your clan leader will be seriously pissed off at you.

It's dumb, it's ugly, but I simply cannot hate Devil's Third in the way that so many others seem to. Especially not online, which I've played many hours of and – shock, horror – enjoyed, despite the presence of microtransactions which I've managed to avoid. The score below presumes that you are not daft/unlucky enough to pay full price for this. At the right price though (ideally half), it's the uncle who makes you and your friends laugh and almost never wipes his shit off the walls.

Devil's Third batshit crazy uneven fun. 3/5.


 Luke Kemp

Devil's Third at CeX

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