Review by Kane

"Run (DMC), run!"

Devil May Cry has renewed my faith in action games in a fantastic way. Yes.

As a reviewer, you sometimes come across games you really want to bash, either because they’re terribly hyped or even because you don’t have enough money to purchase them. We all have our reasons. I tried really hard to hate this game, but I couldn’t. Devil May Cry will stay in history as an important game for the bringing together of games and movies.

”Here we go again…”

Naturally, the first thing one feels when seeing DMC for the first time is boredom: “Those Capcom fools have done it again: this is another Bio Hazard clone!” After a few minutes however, chances are the subject’s opinion will change greatly, according to my formula: “HOLY COW!!! This game looks fantastic!” I’ll spare you the moment when the poor player finds out that this game isn’t a survival horror, but a good old brawler.

You see, too many people are mistaken: Devil May Cry is actually an original product. The mature themes and gore ambience are merely a pretext to justify insanely violent -and relaxing- fighting.

“A diabolically meticulous produc--ACTION!”

Devil May Cry looks as good as Onimusha, but is in “real” 3D (a la Dino Crisis). At the moment, it’s simply the best looking game to ever grace the earth: Final Fantasy X has already lost its crown. Of course, it won’t be the case for too long, but DMC has something Alone in the Dark and consorts lack to a certain extent: an exceptional sense of aesthetics and of architecture in particular. Its most remarkable feature is that it constantly oppresses the player (even more so than other “survival horrors”) and pushes a constant flow of adrenalin in his/her veins. Yes indeed, the action takes place in a medieval castle –very similar to what you can still visit nowadays in Europe- haunted by demonic creatures that in fact appears to be the gateway to the Devil world.

Technically, this game looks perfect. Everything you’ve heard about it is true: its light effects are awesome, its environments are varied and detailed, its textures are impressive… It’s almost impossible to find any fault in DMC’s graphics. Even the monsters are beautifully designed, using references from various horror flicks and putting them altogether to create one of the coolest games ever. The animation is, to put it simply, divine. We’re now entering an era in which videogame characters naturally move like real human beings. Crazy.

Surprisingly enough, Devil May Cry is one scary game. It doesn’t create the same kind of fear as Resident Evil or Silent Hill, as you’re rarely anticipating a surprise attack or are afraid of the general atmosphere of the game. No, DMC is different. Here, you’re just impressed by the game to the point that you’re wondering how far the developers will go. If anything, this game is more reminiscent of Legacy of Kain –Soul Reaver- than of any of the aforementioned titles.

Curiosity is what will surely keep you playing through this game despite its sub-par plot and laughable dialogs. You thought “I hope this isn’t Chris’ blood” was bad? Wait until you hear Dante, the most stereotypical hero ever created. Yeah, he’s cool and all, but he’s also dumb as a rock and has the personality of a drunk sailor. Come on, I’m sure even James Cameron could have created a better personality. It’s amazing how Capcom managed to screw up a character with such a charismatic design, especially since he was modeled after the notorious anime character that goes by the name of Cobra. As a matter of fact, the gap there is between the quality of the adventure itself and its storyline is amazingly huge. But let’s not nitpick much longer: for an action game, Devil May Cry actually has a decent plot.

DMC excels in the sound area. Most of the game’s music is made of discrete yet mysterious tunes. They successfully capture the peculiar intensity of the game without ever being too annoying. Naturally, the music becomes much more dynamic when Dante has to fight for his life. Fast-paced modern tunes accompanied by top-notch sound effects contribute to the perfect picture portrayed by the developers.

The most fun 3D brawler in recent years?

Fighting monsters in a castle isn’t a very innovative concept, I’ll admit. But the game is so fun that it doesn’t really matter. Tight controls are what directly push Devil May Cry to the rank of killer app. With his sword, Dante can perform damaging combos very similar to what one could see two years ago in Sword Of Berserk on Dreamcast. But when the protagonist decides to draw his guns, you’d swear you’re watching a remake of The Matrix by John Who. The technical excellence of DMC is reflected on its controls: they’re much more intuitive than in most recent action games.

The fighting and particularly the combinations are uber cool, which doesn’t come off as a surprise given Capcom’s reputation. Although the player is given many different possibilities to slay the monsters, shooting them from far away like a girl won’t give you as many points as a stylish combo. Actually, this game is basically about looking cool while slaughtering monsters in a majestic castle. Yes, Dante’s nickname is king of posers.

Refreshing new weapons can be easily found in the levels, and your actual skill (read: score) determines how many special attacks and magic items you can purchase. Materialized by orbs that appear when you get rid of your foes, ‘slickness’ points are the most important element to consider in order to go far in the game. Further in the game you’ll obtain the interesting possibility of temporarily morph into a demon, which definitely makes things a bit easier.

”Hard as hell?”

One of the most surprising aspects of the game is its decent difficulty. While Devil May Cry isn’t exactly what I would call a challenging game, some of the bosses will require some strategy. On the other hand, don’t expect much from the puzzles: they’d be more fitting for six-year olds than for a “mature” audience. Again, this essence of this game is its furious action.

A ‘game over’ screen isn’t a rare sight in DMC, but you’ll often be offered the chance to continue if you’ve earned enough orbs. An innovative system that boosts the game replay value without making your adventure too easy, even when you decide to go with the 'easy' mode. Moreover, a ranking system and a few interesting extras make up for the game’s average length (about seven hours). Note that replaying Devil May Cry is a pleasure though, as the levels are rather short, dynamic and fun. Just keep in mind that perseverance is the key.

The catch

Key. That reminds me of DMC’s biggest flaw: repetition. Obviously, the Capcom developers found a way to improve their survival-horror franchise but they apparently forgot to work on the rhythm of their baby. Playing through the first few levels is bliss until you figure out the gimmick this game is based on.

Find a key. Fight monsters. Open a door. Fight monsters. Find an item. Fight monsters. Open a door. Fight a boss. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

After a while, Devil May Cry’s simple structure gets tiresome and you may just want to tell Dante to go to hell. Granted, this is a minor problem for a brawler, and the surprisingly well-designed but sparse aquatic levels sometimes break the monotony, but it’s increasingly frustrating as you progress through the corridors of the castle and its surroundings. Besides, the rest of the game is of such quality that it only emphasizes DMC’s flaws.

”A Satanic work?”

Overall, Devil May Cry is an excellent action game that, even though it won’t make you shed a tear, further proves Capcom’s polyvalence. What was originally supposed to be a Resident Evil sequel now became a flamboyant game based on coolness and fun. Now, be honest: when was the last time you heard these two words put together?


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/01, Updated 02/02/03


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