Review by Shirow
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist...Until Capcom came by..."
The eternal battle between good and evil has spilled on to the remote island of Mallet. Two millennia after the all-powerful Devil Prince, Mundus, was defeated and banished by the heroic Devil-Knight Sparda, the all-powerful lord of the underworld is again readying his army of darkness to invade the Earth.
Hence begins Capcom's latest action/adventure title on the PS2. Originally, this was meant to be nothing more than yet another addition to Capcom's most popular action series, Resident Evil. However, as the team worked on the project, they came up with a new battle system and in the end, decided to create a series -- okay I know there is only one title but since this is Capcom, you can expect a lot of sequels -- with a completely different plot instead of making a good series become oversaturated to death (some of you may argue that it already happened and I will reply ''…''). And that game would be Devil May Cry.
You control Dante who, for a living, dwelves into anything that the typical human mind fails to comprehend. He has been requested to investigate some bizarre events by a very mysterious lady, Trish, and in doing so, is set to roam about the numerous rooms and adjacent gardens of a gigantic castle, trying to figure out how to get past evil monsters. At the same time, he'll have to solve several puzzles which will enable him to move on -- just to show you that he's not just a strong man with all in the muscles and nothing in the head.
As a PS2 title -- and most of all, as one of the first in an extremely popular genre --, there is no doubt that emphasis should be placed on the game's graphics above all. For once, forget about the graphics and the sound. Forget all those trivial matters which have made so many good titles sadly unpopular and instead, think about the uniqueness of the game. Why ? Because that's where Devil May Cry shines above all.
While Resident Evil involved an interesting but quite linear - not to mention ultimately boring -- gunfire battle system, DMC provides a unique battle system in which all the interest of the game lies. Think about RE and Bushido Blade in the same title ! Get the idea ? In addition to carrying various weapons which you need to uncover through the game, Dante also wields a sword and this even changes to some fire-tastic gloves by the middle of the game.
But most of you will probably think that he needs to choose between one of the two when fighting off against hordes of enemies who drop from nowhere…Think not ! Instead, you have the stunning ability to use both of those consecutively simply because each weapon is used with a different button and the smooth battle system allows you to start an attack with your sword, to continue with a shotgun and to resume with the sword again. I was bewildered when I first realized how the game was played.
Simply put, DMC benefits from the most innovative battle system ever ! Dante is crafted with the shocking ability of combining sword- and gun-based attacks to finish off his enemies and this is splendidly achieved through an animation that never fails and a fast-paced game engine. In addition, his sword-based attacks will yield combos as he never gives them a chance to come to their senses again as he batters them senseless.
Your combos range from ''Cool'' to ''Stylish'' and what better than to start off a an attack which involves sending a marionette soaring up with a strong blow of Alastor and jumping to finish it off with Ebony & Ivory, your trusty handguns. You can acquire new skills through red orbs and implement these in new-found combos that will make your enemies bump around in a very oblivious way.
The game even benefits from the now highly-abused Matrix effect but where Max Payne could only rehash it, Capcom adds something new to it. Just watch Dante jump and stay up as he unloads rounds of handgun blasts against Nelo Angelo until he falls down…Only to send him up again and keeping him up with shotgun blasts until that fool finally realizes who Dante really is.
DMC is, above all, the most innovative PS2 game as it brings forward various concepts to make it an extraordinary experience. Using Devil Trigger, Dante will show who he really is as he summons his inner power to make any enemy really pathetic -- although only in Easy Automatic mode -- and as he takes himself for a new alien breed.
This surely makes up for the very weak plot of DMC. I mean, what would you really expect from the genre ?!. I will still point out that DMC isn't your mere Survival Horror title due to its battle system but it still has the old rhyme of ''battle enemies, look for keys, open new areas, look for important items, watch cut-scenes….''.
Besides, it is pretty obvious upon reading the first lines of this review that its storyline isn't what will make it very popular. But, for once, forget about the plot because DMC doesn't even need one ! I personally didn't care after a while because I was so much engrossed with the battles. Why, I even dreamt of combos at night as I thought of a better way of slicing up those damn monsters which always appeared in groups !
Could DMC be a perfect game visually ? Anybody who's played the demo must have been awed by the visuals of DMC ! And the final product is a pure marvel. The opening cut-scene where you'll see Dante for the first time is simply beautiful and the game is so detailed you won't even know what to drool at after some time. The numerous cliffs are extremely realistic and the backgrounds are truly impressive.
Just a glance at Dante's shadow as he moves about in the castle will prove how close to perfect this game is. The ludicrous structure of the castle and everything within as well as Dante's smooth animation shows the real power of PS2 as Dante keeps on running, only to meet new monsters which he cannot avoid. Forget zombies and fiery dogs because DMC has its own bunch of enemies and can even boast to have the most diversified cast of monsters ever !
Battling against skulls which will try to bite you and coming to grips with silky ghosts wielding a huge pair of scissors has never been so fun. Shadows have never been so deadly and each of the boss is a real pain in the ass. They all seem to suffer from dull lives and as having no hobbies which make that killing Dante is the first of their preoccupations.
And all this is made even more enjoyable by the decent soundtrack although the special battle theme gets boring after a while. Having more than one would have helped - actually, it even seems that the developers realized that too as the music fades out in the middle of the battle and you are left with the thoroughly-pleasurable grinding of your sword in your enemy's flesh -- provided he has one, of course.
My biggest relief is to find that, contrary to most titles in the genre, DMC doesn't abide to the fact that the music must be a give-away to important encounters. This has always annoyed me and I still shiver, right now, as I recall how I lost my positiveness (à la Peeples) when I first met the Godly -- or should it be Evilly ? -- Shadows, the best villains that mankind has ever crafted
The ruffling of the wind in the leaves as you try to figure out how to kill those whores with their scissors and their demoniac laughs once they're finally defeated are extremely well-done and the voice-acting is top-notch. DMC is literally loaded with sound effects that never falter nor do they harm the game.
Don't let the title screen fool you with the innocent ''Normal'' that will unblinkingly stare at you once you dare to confirm a new game ! The developers mistook ''Normal'' for ''Hard''…I can't even imagine how it is in ''Dante Must Die !'' mode…Oooh, just the thought again makes me shiver ! Spooky ! If you are of the easily frustrated type, DMC is not for you. Enemies will come crowding around you, each attempting to get a bite of your juicy flesh and to make things even worse, they have very tough skins and just don't seem as dead as that.
A fatal flaw that Capcom made was to give Dante a particularly stereotyped personality. I was pleasantly surprised with his description in the manual and the first cut-scene cleared away all my doubts but as I progressed, I was disappointed to see how Dante finally turned out to be. Know how sadly pathetic Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme can be in their movies where they employ the talent they never had to be ''good guys who always remain impassible whatever happens'' ? If the game was a tad longer, Dante would surely have been added to this small list but thankfully, he barely manages keep off !
The presence of Secret Missions, some of which are impossible, gives DMC a better gameplay and the unlocked modes will suck all your spare time as you completely forget about your girl to tackle hordes of marionettes. The game is quite short and at the harder levels, surviving will be the only task since you will already know how the solve the puzzles unless you're the dumbest guy on this planet.
DMC even goes further as to make it very hard for you to play the game like a wimp and still manage to win. Items and new skills are bought by spending red orbs which are scattered around the game and which are also left behind by defeated enemies. Here's the interesting part. You get the bulk of these red orbs upon defeating enemies and the better you play, the more you'll be rewarded.
This basically means that you'll have to understand the game engine properly and single slashes and cheap shots, while effective in some places, will actually hamper you as you find it very hard to complete missions and to acquire those necessary skills. Yeah, I know some of you sissies will complain but that's what I like most about the game -- the inability to bypass the basics. Besides, why would you even want to do that ? Anybody who'd rather shoot like a maniac instead of trying numerous ways of juggling a Bloody Mari and finishing them with a grenade round would just be plain stupid.
As you may have deduced by now, Devil May Cry is one of the finest titles on the PS2. Instead of the RE clone, Capcom have managed to come up with another addition to its impressive library as well as create yet another genre The superb graphics and controls -- and a good soundtrack, but nothing exceptional here -- make it extremely enjoyable and the refined battle system completes this masterpiece. Moreover, it is blessed with the undeniable charm of all precursors. 'Nuff said !
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 11/09/02
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