Review by hangedman

"Game problems are eclipsed by the fun of it all!"

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DEVIL MAY CRY
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Devil May Cry is one of these games that comes along and attracts a new crowd of gamers while still appealing to the ''hardcore'' crowd (myself included). It has eye-catching graphics and a cool premise, and anyone that does any research into the game will realize that it has tight, responsive controls, and an action-packed pacing.

In essence, Devil May Cry succeeds at what many games attempt and fail at. Although it may not win points in certain areas, and is eclipsed by other games in a few areas, Devil May Cry is probably the best 100% action game on the PS2 right now.

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STORY
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''You Dante, you're the one... or something!''

Your character is Dante, son of the ''legendary dark knight Sparda, who stood up for humanity.'' Although Sparda was a demon, he had a ''good heart,'' and apparently got jiggy with a human woman to produce the mostly immortal Dante. Dante is hence the successor to Sparda's coolness, warm heart, and follows in his father's footsteps in order to kick demonic ass.

While an interesting premise, the story is decidedly average especially considering some of the other games lately (I just reviewed Metal Gear Solid 2, so it REALLY falls short in comparison, but give it some slack) that have surpassed it. You also get your typical character that tries to kill you, shows up at the end of the game, and we're supposed to feel sympathy for. No dice.

Dante himself is pretty lame as a character, aside from his awesomeness in-game. Mostly, Dante is a cocky jerk that serves only to state the obvious and seemingly make stupid comments. When dealing with an enemy that drops down, he says, ''I hope you have something in that big body of yours!'' Brilliant. No, really, a conversational gem there, Dante. Especially when talking to a mostly incomprehensible magma spider. You heard it here first, folks.

I would have liked to see a little more development (okay, I lie. LOTS more...) development of Dante's character: why he monster hunts, what he does, where he comes from, how he knew his father, etc etc. Capcom shows, but doesn't tell. Then again, I've given up on Herr Capcom as a storyteller lately, as the Resident Evils are making less and less sense, and every fighting game that they put out is doomed to have either bad endings or a single bad ''catch-all'' ending. Screw you, megacorp!

What story there is, it's lame. There's some half-developed stuff about a badass knight you fight being your brother, and your mother resembling this girl that tries to kill you. While strange, it's not necessarily interwoven nicely, and is less complex than you might imagine.

Oh yeah, and some big evil guy is returning once again to wreak havoc on humanity and it's up to Dante to stop him, as he's no doubt the only person in the world with the capabilities to do so. Yawn.

I may be the only one to think so, but the game greatly reminded me of Sword of the Berserk (of which I own the Anime! Step aside posers!) for the DC. In that game, you play Gatsu, a big guy that chops with a blade, but can shoot with a crossbow. Slash, shoot, etc. The game is also medieval in nature, and you do most of your fighting with larger enemies in a big castle. The music from DMC reminded me of Berserk quite a bit. Even though DMC is a much better game than SotB, Berserk's story beats this one's in spades. It seemed pretty clear to me though that Berserk was a bit of an inspiration in terms of the whole scheme of things, but that's just me. Would have been nice to see more of the inspiration on the story.

Again, standard game fare, but a story CAN be more than just glue to hold the excellent fighting in this game together.

Story: 3 / 10
Wasted Potential, bad execution. Why is this a trend in games these days?


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GAMEPLAY
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''Hack, then shoot, shoot and hack, hack and shoot, shoot and shoot, slash, and hack more.''

I really like the gameplay. In terms of this review, imagine a fashion model of your choosing! Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, David Hasslehoff (for the ladies or single lady that may read this review, and I know you're out there.... I can hear you breathing), whatever. Now, imagine a big scar running over the left eye of this model. Not perfect, per se, but very close. So close that you almost want to forget about that scar, but damn it, it's there! Try and ignore it, but you cannot! AHAHAHA! DOOMED!

So you see my predicament here. Devil May Cry has about the most perfect control and execution of any action game I've played in recent years (and I am a total game loser), but these few problems I am so desperately trying to ignore, but they're there nonetheless.

Let's start with the control. You use your close-in attack with circle, and your guns by holding down R1 and hitting X or Triangle. In the case of the handguns, you rapidly mash the button. Devil May Cry allows you to execute long chains of attacks, such as shooting an enemy a few times to stun or knock them down, going over to combo them, then smashing them into the air, blasting at them a few times, then jumping up after them with a slash, fire a little more, and then smash them back down to repeat the process.

There's true beauty in this, as 1. It's so easy to do, given a small amount of practice, and 2. There are other enemies that won't let you combo their friends, and will demonstrate this by throwing pointy things at your exposed back during your horseplay. So, Dante really needs to exercise ''Crowd management'' by attacking either the group as a whole, or hit and run tactics. Beautiful. Never does the fighting seem like a chore, as you feel in complete control about 90% of the time (more on this later... the scar).

Enemies are really capable opponents, some drones that attack in numbers, others ones are worlds smarter and more deadly. They have tons of attacks to inflict upon you, and they are ever-present. Because of this, there's no ammo consumption. Get a shotgun, shells are free. Not only that, but the game rewards you for your indiscriminate monster justice. Smash people to charge a ''Devil Trigger'' guage which allows you to turn into an even more deadly demon for as long as the guage lasts. Wow. This allows for even more moves into your smack-around arsenal of zany crap to do, and provided that you've purchased certain moves you can unleash some very devastating attacks.

This purchasing is another driving factor of the game, as every enemy spits out red orbs that allow you to buy either items (standard health restoration, devil trigger extensions, life extensions, etc.), or new moves for your weapons. This can turn your arsenal from deadly to more deadly and more cool. A good thing! Essentially, the more people you waste, the stronger you get. The game encourages fighting in many ways aside from the orbs. Defeated enemies also have a chance of spitting out green orbs, which recover health. If you're hurt, ironically the best option is to keep fighting, as health restoration is out of the question. You can also use your devil trigger to recover a small amount of life, which is also recharged by what... you remembered! MERCILESSLY SLAUGHTERING ENEMIES.

With a good offense comes an amazing defense on Dante's part, as if you're aiming at people you have the option of leaping out of the way if any attack comes your way. Sometimes you really need to have a lot of precision, but for the most part the dodge works amazingly well. Beautiful. Get into a fight with 3 or more enemies and use a grenade launcher, and you'll be firing, slashing, and jumping out of the way like a crazy man. This is undoubtedly fun, and it works well. No cumbersome Resident Evil or standard controls, this is all (mildly) twitch reflexes and timing.

Devil May Cry also does the shockingly un-Capcom. Whenever backtracking is required, it's turned into a mission. The game exists in 24 missions, which all require a certain goal to be met. It keeps things fresh, and ensures that challenges will be bountiful. It also eliminates a lot of the aimless wandering common in the ''get item A to spot B'' scenarios. It's nice to see that Capcom is capable of casting off old conventions (if only we can do the same for Street Fighter... *cough*). Another good point is that the medieval nature of the game facilitates the awkward puzzle items that Dante comes across, unlike Resident Evil's way of having to move around giant jeweled statues in a masterfully schemed (and presumably expensive) puzzle in order to do something as mundane as remove a tape from a VCR.

Another thing I really like is the bosses, which all require a unique strategy to efficiently eliminate, and really have a cool learning curve. The first times, you fight them and die, but after learning their moves you can adequately have a long and entertaining fight with them. Again, capable opponents that can't be beaten in less than 2 minutes (unless you want to beat them as fast as possible) are a good thing.

''Show me the scar!''

Devil may cry, despite being one of THE most fun games I've played recently has a few minor blemishes, as discussed earlier. The one main thing is the fact that Capcom's fixed camera angles now work against you. Example, in RE games, holding up will make you walk forward, down walks backwards, and left/right turns. Thankfully, not so in DMC. Up moves up, right is right, etc. Imagine if you will, Dante runs at a certain point, and you're holding up! OH NO! Camera is now facing Dante! Dante runs right back the way he came, as you're still holding up (goddamnit!). Now, while this is mildly irksome, as certain times you have to move very slowly in order to deal with upcoming camera angles (which is entirely asinine anyways), imagine a boss fight where you have to run in a straight line in order to dodge an attack.

Dante: ''Run from fire.. must run from fire!''
Capcom Camera: ''Into the blaze you go! Right is no longer the same right!''

Now, if the game is on hard, and said camera change causes you to get wiped out by this attack and lose half your F*cking life, and I kid you not, some attacks do cause that much damage, things add up fast. Walking into an attack that you're conscious of avoiding, but run into because of the game is not a fun thing. In fact, I usually turn the game off, look angrily at the PS2, and curse. Loudly. I'm partial to, ''You like those cheap hits, eh motherfu..'' you get the rest.

Now, even more irritating is the fact that camera switches are either in the same direction you were going, or directly opposite to it. This ensures that at certain times, if anyone is attacking you at said camera point (which they undoubtedly are due to the game's nature), you get hit by it. Is it your fault? No.

On the hard difficulty setting, there is no room for mistake. Let's just say that I am a great DMC player, and pretty much half of all of my injuries come from fighting with the camera. This is not a good thing.

DMC has a couple other things that bother me: the final weapons you get aren't as good as what you're using when you find them, and the handguns quickly become obsolete within the game. Certain characters are a little overpowered, some of the items in hard mode are way overpriced. More weapons and cheaper stuff never hurt anyone, huh?

Hard mode came up a few times, and really the hard mode is about 8 times as hard as the normal game. Let's take a look:

1. More enemies
2. More Expensive items
3. Enemies inflict more damage
4. Enemies survive more attacks
5. Less D.Trigger health restoration
6. Easier enemies replaced with harder ones

Although I think it's a little bit TOO hard, I do think that Capcom succeeded in making the easy mode easy, normal normal, and hard ...hard. Surprisingly, there's an even more hard level of hard, which I think that if I want to use my controller in the future, I'd best not play it. The division and sheer truth in the easy, normal, and hard modes is actually clear, and unlike games with 3 levels of diminishing easy. It's a real challenge, but makes you want to give up the fight when the camera is a more humbling opponent than a demon knight. However, it would have been nice to see a few more ''rungs'' in the skill ladder.

Finally, there really isn't any puzzle element besides the puzzle items, and even then the captions make it impossible for you NOT to know what you should do, unless you're autistic and have brain damage, and are on fire and about to explode. Oh yeah, and you'd have to be blind too, and have no legs for some reason. Seriously, come to a door that's locked, and Dante will say, ''A rusty key might be useful.'' Now, the educated man would stop to think, is this a trick? How does he know a *rusty* key would do it, and not a well-maintained key? Other things are stuff as stupid and answer-screaming as ''it looks like this statue should be holding something.'' Not only that, but anything in your inventory that you can use in this situation will be automatically used. For people who love the blatantly and painfully obvious, this game will not disappoint.

Game: ''I see a door. Perhaps a key of door unlocking might be useful.''
Me: ''You think?''
Game: ''Will you use the key of door unlocking?
Me: ''Sure, I didn't even know I had it. Go for it.''
Game: *Creak!*

As I said before though, the sheer refinery of the action and the ease of control makes DMC a blast to play, and the rest of the minor shortcomings are forgivable in comparison.

Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Perfect, but.... grrrr. Camera. Urge to kill rising!


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GRAPHICS
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''Wooooooow! *Kaboom* Wooooooooow!''

Devil May Cry is another exceptional PS2 game graphically. Everything looks good, everything is in order. No jagged edges, no frame drops, vibrant shading and lighting, good use of surfaces, atmospheric environments, etc.

So really, there's nothing I can nitpick here. The game is set in a castle, and the environments are really grade A stuff. It looks like a castle, and everything is definitely in place. The enemies are incredibly large, well detailed, and well animated. The character models are flawless, and their attacks are pretty awesome to behold. On the whole, the characters are simply a blast to watch.

Speaking of blasts however, the main kick of the graphics is all the nifty effects for shooting, slashing, and what-have-yous. They're really cool.

If you want to get ultra-technical, one might argue that certain things look a little bit low-poly, and that some backgrounds are a little flat. I never really registered either as a complaint, but some might. I play a lot of retro games though (l337!), so my graphical tolerance is quite high. I'm sure these nitpickers are Jolt junkies hooked up with a top-of-the-line computer system to play the latest game at the fastest speed possible with the best lighting, textures, and framerate possible known to man at this time. Lower your standards, kiddies.

Yeah, other than those highlights, the game really creates an amazing atmosphere filled with great effects and characters. There's nothing more I could want from it!

Graphics: 10 / 10
Absolutely great. Unless you're nitpicky about graphics, there's nothing wrong AT ALL.


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SOUND / MUSIC
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''Bangs, Booms, Kapows, and rocking tunes!''

Well, sound and music are two things that I usually lump together into one thing. I don't know why I do this, possibly because there's a man behind me with a large pistol telling me to do so. Who am I to argue?

The sound is great. Every exploding, slashing, or utter destruction of an enemy sounds great. My favorite is probably the enemies later in the game that scream, then fall over and explode for upwards of five seconds! Basically, every enemy's death wails and attacks sound great. DMC has a great shotgun sound (which explains why I use it so much), a great grenade sound, hacking and punching sounds have the sound of large quantities of metal colliding with armor

The game also makes use of ambient noises, which work well as opposed to being irritating. Certain areas have a unique sound that come off as nice, rather than irritating. Atmospheric sounds are realistic and low key, even if it's as simple as running water. If you don't notice it a few times, that's a good thing. I remember the cicadas and the birds in Tenchu that let out irritating screeches every half second, like a psychotic metronome. None of that in DMC.

The music is a mixed bag. I like most of the tunes, but unfortunately there's only one type of music played for fights with ''non-boss'' enemies. A few more would have been nice, especially if each enemy had a unique tune. A lot of the same music is recycled, and all in all I think there are only 5 tracks. Of those, I'm partial to 3. While the boss and ending deservedly get new music, the rest of the game needs it immensely. Although you only get ''full-on-rocking'' when there are enemies around, more of this said rocking would have been better. How can you rock out to the same tunes? I know I can't. I don't even listen to the radio to rock out, so I'm really screwed in a game with 5 tracks.

The few themes I like though are good, and the ''default'' fight music is functional after it gets overplayed. Not bad, but not excellent. More variety would have added volumes to the game, but as it is the music situation is for the most part nicely done. It's better than the standard Techno / Generi-rock themes in most games, but sadly there just isn't enough of it. The guitar in the music is pretty ...rocking, and that's a good thing in my book. A common plague in games is to either have guitar that's too Japanese Hair-bandy, or that which is way too ''metally'' for it's own good. Like, ultra-heavy riffs with nothing else. The other option is to use Rob Zombie's songs. Thankfully, DMC avoids all 3.

The music, what little there is, coupled with the amazing sound effects create a great product. Overall, I would have liked to see more music, much more of it, but nothing else is at fault.

Sound / Music: 8 / 10
Awesome sounds, great ambience. Sadly there's little music, the same tracks are repeated often.


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OVERALL
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''So, do I buy it or what?''

Devil May Cry is perhaps one of the more sound purchases you can make as a gamer, assuming that you have the patience to cope with both the camera angles and the steep difficulty of the game. It takes time to master and practice, but once you are able to get the hang of the game, it can deliver hours of entertainment. Fighting enemies is a joy, and you constantly feel in control of the situation.

in essence, your bad-assitude is magnificent in-game, and it's reflected by how well Dante is able to move and fight thanks to the great control scheme. It's easy to do what looks cool, but being in control of the situation takes practice and a hefty amount of skill. However, once you get these things down, no PS2 game has come close to the sheer greatness of the action that DMC is able to deliver. Oh man, it's great.

Still, the problems that DMC has are like the bouncer holding it back from the ''perfect 10'' club, even though it should rightfully get in. The difficulty curves, the small amount of weaponry, the lackluster story, and the atrocious camera are all things that prevent DMC from getting a 10. However, for the time that you're dodging lizard creature flying leaps and putting buckshot into their heads as they whizz past, the problems cease to exist, and you're left with gaming bliss.

Overall: 9 / 10
Ignore the problems, and it's perfect! :)


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*I still think Gatsu could whip Dante's punk ass.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/02, Updated 02/18/02


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