Review by Aganar
"One of the most revolutionary action games of this generation. But can it stack up to Ninja Gaiden?"
August 2001. The N64 is now virtually dead, the Dreamcast is slowly dying, and the PS2 is selling untold amounts while not really showing much of a library. Then along comes Capcom's newest action game, taking elements from Resident Evil and Onimusha (which was just Resident Evil with a sword anyway), Devil May Cry. If there was any reason then to own a PS2, Devil May Cry was it. Finally, we saw a great game that wasn't Metal Gear Solid 2. This had the potential to be one of the best games of this generation. And why not? Everything about it seemed to have the prerequisites of what a classic game should have.
On the first hand, we are able to see the simply jaw-dropping visuals that blow us away the second we try the game out. Gamers are immediately treated to an immensely detailed world consisting of high-polygon characters and beautiful Gothic architecture. Besides the wonderfully designed levels, the textures are some of the first to really show off the PS2's hardware power. Most impressive is the large scenery filled with many enemies managing to continually run at a fluent sixty frames-per-second.
Besides boasting tremendously stunning graphics, we are treated to some of the most ingenious core gameplay elements that I've seen in quite a while. Capcom has taken the basic idea of the long-forgotten Beat-'em-up genre and successfully brought it into 3d, adding new elements that completely changes it around. These new elements draw heavily from RPGs in the sense of killing monsters to earn money in order to purchase new items or moves. Along with those is the added feeling of style and satisfaction that falls within Devil May Cry. To start off with, you are put in control of Dante, a half-human half-demon mercenary. Besides being one of the most badass characters ever to grace a videogame, Dante is given an incredible array of cool moves and combos to pull off making the game all the more enjoyable.
Perhaps one of the largest improvements that Devil May Cry brings to the genre is the open feeling you finally achieve. Being in 2d obviously puts a linear hold on a game, and even Onimusha with its pre-rendered backgrounds made the game feel somewhat confined. While Devil May Cry unfortunately still has fixed camera angles, they never caused any sort of accident or frustration while playing. The fixed camera instead seems to be there as to allow Dante to looks as cool as possible while fighting. Sometimes angles can give you just enough leeway to see Dante slicing through hordes of enemies, and others changing just as you pull off a mesmerizing combo.
But what is most important to dwell on is (of course) the added RPG elements. As an idea which I thought was long overdue to be in popular beat-'em-ups, this system allows you to actually be rewarded for the mindless amount of enemies you kill, performing awing combos and spectacular moves in the process. The orbs enemies leave after dying can be exchanged in order to buy new moves and maneuvers for your sword (and gauntlets later on). These can be used for making the sword attack faster, allowing an extra blow to land here and there, or do something as cool as being able to throw it like a boomerang at an enemy and watch them slowly disintegrate. This system has winded up working so well that Capcom has repeatedly used it in later games like P.N. 03 and Viewtiful Joe. My only complaint about this system is that there really aren't as many moves as I would have liked, and too many of them seem to be for the Devil Mode (which I will get into in a moment). Other RPG elements include new sub-weapons to find, as well as secret items to increase your life and potions to restore vitality and magic.
My personal favorite aspect of the game is how much work Capcom put into making an interesting character to control. I never like to judge a game based on something as trivial as characters, but when if I were to choose between two virtually identical games where I can play as a Demonic Sorcerer and an Accountant, I might be a bit disappointed if I'm stuck with the accountant. But Dante is someone I find truly a blast to play as. He's strong, cool, and agile. One moment you might be flipping off balconies to slash down on one opponent, the next you might be pulling off his trademark combo (slashing an enemy, knocking him into the air, then keeping him suspended in midair with the use of Dante's two pistols). That alone would make any given character amazing. But Dante doesn't stop there. He also has an interesting ability to change into a demon temporarily, allowing him to slash much faster, perform insane combos, as well as fly.
Accompanying you throughout your adventure is Devil May Cry's fairly solid soundtrack. At moments while exploring a chapel you can be soothed by a very peaceful hymn, then at the same time you can burst into a room full of zombies and fight to synthesized rock. Though you will hear the same tunes a surprising amount of times as you will no doubt spend hours wandering around killing monsters, I never found any tracks to be particularly tedious or boring. At the same time there was nothing truly memorable. But while the soundtrack may not be anything amazing, the sound quality of the game is excellent. The chatter of bones as you are confronted by zombies and the clash of Dante's huge sword gives a very realistic impact on you while playing the game. Devil May Cry features well-done voice acting from beginning to end, and provides top-notch sound all the way through.
But the game is unfortunately not without it's small share of flaws. At the beginning of the game you have a fairly quick-moving opening and first few levels of story. But it soon becomes apparent that this branch of Capcom was either not good at or too lazy to come up with a decent story. So, we're given a very convoluted and bizarre story which makes absolutely no sense, and soon turns extremely cheesy towards the ending. Another large problem is the lack of indication you are given of where to go. Thus, you might spend hours aimlessly wandering around one level wondering what to do. And then you reach the end of the stage (Why was the game even put in stages?) and you think the next one might be easier, you discover you may in the exact same level, still without an idea of what the hell you are supposed to do. The whole mission based structure really ends up weakening the game, when it seems very clear like they wanted it to be an open-ended Resident Evil style castle. Putting stages just seems to create unnecessary checkpoints and limits to what you can do. Finally, I really just didn't like the Ifrit Gauntlets. Punching very slowly and setting myself on fire was never something that appealed to me (hell, I enjoyed fighting hand-to-hand during the boomerang move more than I liked using those bloody thing). I would've gladly sacrificed having the Ifrit Gloves if it meant having more moves for my sword.
The replay value is also a bit skimpy. There are a few extras to unlock, such as the Dante Must Die mode, or the Super Dante Mode, but it's somewhat pointless to do it as most of these extras require doing something incredibly difficult and not really worth your time. The replay value is still decent because this game is so much fun to play, even if you're going through the whole thing again, but there's not much of a reason to play it immediately after you beat it. The only real reward is infinite Devil Trigger (what allows you to stay in Demon form), but there's not much of a point to it, since if you got it there is no more use for it since you've already done everything. On the plus side, you are allowed to keep the weapons and abilities you unlocked from your first play-through if you do a new game after beating it.
So, you have an great and innovative new game that has now set the standard for action games. While I still think it is an amazing game that everyone needs to check out, it is rendered somewhat obsolete by Ninja Gaiden's better graphics, sound, deeper weapons, larger variety of weapons, and more interesting cutscenes. Regardless, it was still a blast to play through. It's a fun, easy to pick up, stylish action game you can play over and over without ever getting bored. While there are now better games to check out, you can easily find Devil May Cry at stores for a good price. Check it outit's a benchmark in action videogames and a landmark in stylish combat.
Final Score: 9.2
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/29/04
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