Developed by Valhalla Game Studios – Published by Nintendo – Available now on Wii U
Given Nintendo’s output in recent years, it’s quite the surprise that they decided to publish this particular game. And given the quality of games that Nintendo publish, it comes as even more of a surprise. However, until recently, it seemed like there was a fair amount of hype surrounding the title, and some intrigue when it was announced that it was an exclusive to the Wii U. Having been in development for some years, Devil’s Third already had a lot of expectation on its shoulders, not to mention the fact that it comes from the talent behind the popular Ninja Gaiden series, and with this being the first ‘mature’ title to hit the Wii U for some time, hopes were high. What we get however, seems to be a game that should have been released back when it first started development.
The story is quite unique compared to a lot of similar titles in the genre, with a terrorist group destroying the satellites that are orbiting the earth, creating an EMP effect which knocks out all electricals worldwide. The rest however, uses every cliche in the book. Taking on the role of convict/government muscleman Ivan, a tattooed meat head with an aversion to shirts, you are enlisted by the government to take on the terrorists, all of whom have previous association with Ivan. Dragging himself away from his cushy prison cell, which is filled with musical instruments (we first meet him banging out a drum solo), he must join up with the military to take out the bad guys in an action packed, globe-trotting adventure.
The gameplay is very inconsistent, the first couple of missions are extremely enjoyable, switching from melee combat to shooting in a smooth fashion, and dismembering enemies left and right, in a frantic firefight not too dissimilar of the underrated Vanquish. The cover mechanic is rather intuitive, and makes for intensely fun gun fights. After several missions however, that excitement diminishes as the gameplay becomes a bit one-trick pony, particularly when the game decides that you aren’t having enough thrown at you and decides to cheaply get every kind of enemy to come at you at once, and speaking of cheap, some of the boss fights are so ridiculously spamtastic, it makes you wonder if the developers have confused strategy with difficulty. There is a learning curve to some of the sections which is quite satisfying when you overcome them, but some of the areas are just so overwhelming cheap it gets beyond frustrating. The weapons are fun to use however, and although the novelty wears off after a while, the gruesome battering you give the enemies with a melee weapon is a delight.
There are sections that mix things up a bit, including a vehicular assault right out of Halo’s book, and a slow steady section where you have to clear the way of explosives. These sections do break up the monotony somewhat, so do come as a nice change of pace. Visually, you’d be forgiven for thinking this came out on the 360 in 2008. It’s no dogs dinner, but the textures and structures throughout are quite bland and basic. It may be on the Wii U but it’s by no means pushing its capabilities. The frame rate enthusiasts will have a field day with this, too. On occasions, if there’s too much going on, it gets very choppy, and once again, you’d think you were playing Dark Sector or Prey.
The single player campaign does have it’s strengths, and at times is very enjoyable, but too many times it gets hampered by the consistency of the enemy. You are supposed to switch up your combat style from time to time, but when the enemies come at you thick and fast, particularly the behemoth’s toting gatling guns and chainsaws, it does get frustrating. For every peak, there’s a trough, and every time you start to forgive it for one annoyance, another pops up.
Devil’s Third also boasts an expansive multiplayer mode, with several different game types to choose from. At the time of writing, it was only really possible to get a decent game in the death match modes (be it standard, team or melee modes). Other modes such as Cargo Capture and Chickens (catch chickens and shoot other players to take theirs, it’s great fun) were barren. The multiplayer uses skins from characters in the game, as well as several weapons, which are unlocked as you level up and earn money. There’s several modes to unlock and it seems like the multiplayer has been quite well thought out. The maps all seem pretty decent, with the players able to make the most out of the environments, which seem to cater for all the classes and player types. It’s a very decent alternative to Splatoon, thinking about it. If there’s one thing that’s not in abundance on the Wii U, it’s multiplayer shooters, and this could serve as a decent, bloody alternative the more family friendly nature of Splatoon.
It’s still a surprise that Nintendo decided to publish the game, and in a way I’m reminded of a scene in It’s A Trap! (the Family Guy parody of Return of the Jedi). Annoyed with how cute and light hearted things have been so far, Han makes one of the imperial soldiers dig his own grave, just to add a bit more darkness to proceedings. Perhaps after all the sickly sweet sugar of Captain Toad, Kirby and Yoshi’s Wooly World, Nintendo felt fans were due something bitter? While Devil’s Third’s campaign disappoints with its dated visuals, story and characters, and the gameplay is somewhat inconsistent, it is significantly improved by its online mode, and turns what would have been a mediocre title into a good one. Come for the fun but flawed single player, stay for the surprisingly good multiplayer (if more people start playing, that is).