Review by Dogg
Devil May Cry is a somewhat unexpected title from Capcom, the third-party developers known for the survival-horror hits Resident Evil and Dino Crisis (and many 2-d fighting games of yore). Born as the next title in the aging Resident Evil franchise, Devil May Cry appeared as something different by just looking at it. Its style was different (and that could easily be seen), and unlike the aforementioned horror games, DMC has awesome control (well, compared to those), and it focuses more on action then horror. Shinji Mikami, the originator of both this and Resident Evil, was impressed with his creation.
So were we.
Devil May Cry follows the story of Dante, a devil on his father’s side, but a mortal on his mother’s. Dante is a white-haired, strange-clothed man who can jump high in the air as gracefully, and as beautifully as any superhuman. He wields two handguns, handmade, which go by the name Ebony and Ivory, and he wields a sword, which he can swing around with ease – the sign of a true professional. His father, known as the legendary dark knight Sparda, is one of the reasons for Dante’s living. The man wants to surpass his father, and he’s been trying (just not hard enough).
Lo and behold, Dante is unexpectedly met by a girl named Trish. Trish is no enemy, she just wants to tell your fellow protagonist that something fishy is going on in an isle located far away (where the oceans are as intense as the devil himself). And Dante, the skilled devil-hunter that he is, goes to check it out. Following this and other turn of events, Dante’s story takes many twists and turns. One minute he’s fighting a powerful behemoth that fires fireballs out of his mouth, while the next he’s engaging in battle with a demon who fights similar, but uses a different style. It doesn’t end there, though. A maniacal bird will constantly be attacking Dante, while a powerful blob will prove to be Dante’s toughest challenge yet. It all ends in a powerful (though stylish) climax as Dante takes on the game’s antagonist, Mundis (a demon who kills his own henchmen and has high intentions of killing you, especially since you’re so far in the game when you finally exchange blows with him).
Devil May Cry plays beautifully. It’s an action title that acts as one (little in the way of story, much in the way of battle). Controls are easy to master, and your character moves so smoothly it hurts. There are over 25 levels to complete, all of which are mission oriented (meaning you’re to follow the objective you were given before you began – i.e. open a door, obtain an item, et cetera). Of the 25, or so, levels available, you’ll have to run, gun, and slash your way to the top, till you finally meet your maker. Dante is controlled through the Analog stick, and by pressing Triangle; Dante will gracefully jump in the air. Also, through the push of the R1 button, Dante will ready his handguns, and by hitting X or Square he will fire them. The ammo for the guns is unlimited and you can continue firing by mashing down on the abovementioned buttons. However, Dante’s true move is when he slashes his enemies, up-close, with his powerful sword, simply done through the pounding of the O button.
As you encounter enemies you’ll have to use Dante’s moves in a clever, though intense fashion so you can find an easy way to take them down. You can simply gun them down, or throw them into the air with your sword, fire pounds of lead into their rotten skin, and then turn into a devil and surprise your enemies with your raging charisma and agility. Yes, turn into a devil (I see that you are as equally surprised by this as I am). Dante can transform into a devil when several of his Devil Gauges are lit up, and in this short period of time (till the Devil Gauges wear out) Dante will be much bulkier, and much stronger (easily told by the raging lighting neighboring him). As a devil you can also use special moves, which you’ll have to buy throughout the game, and these special moves can be key to winning many of the boss battles in this game (Dante’s Air Raid is by far my favorite out of his many skills – this move allows him to go high in the air and then drop bolts of lightning on his enemies, who’ll now have a harder time of putting you out of your misery).
Different types of enemies inhabit different types of levels; and each one has a different move to try to take you down. The marionettes will swing you up on string and attack you ferociously, while the Death Scissors will attack you with a lethal scythe and throw you down to the ground. Some will even require careful planning – one enemy, a huge dragon comprised entirely of bones, will prove to be unbeatable at first, but his bulky hind can be taken down once you figure out that the fireballs he fires must be hit at so they can be go back and hit him (like a ball is hit in baseball). Others will require the same amount of planning as they can defend against some, if not most, of your attacks (some will even retaliate). Bosses are the same. These ludicrously tough jerk-offs may counter some of your moves, attack with a style different then yours, and still prove beatable (aside from Nightmare and Mundis, a few Holy Waters should kill off most of them).
As you get the first strike against your foes, a message (of sorts) will appear on the top right of your screen. This message marks Capcom’s “cool” meter. This cool meter rates your attacks and tries to pinpoint how long you can string combos with your sword. It begins with Dull, but after you hit an enemy (or a group of enemies) it will go to Cool, and so on and so on. Getting a high mark in this meter, the highest of which is Super, can help you get a higher rank later on, and a superior rank can not only give you bragging rights as to how “cool,” or “rad” you really are, but it will also give you more Red Orbs.
Red Orbs are the key to this game (they’re like the experience points in the Final Fantasy games). They improve your character, and, in certain cases, open doors to advance your quest. You can collect Red Orbs from just about anything. Destroy a piece of furniture and several of these will appear, defeat an enemy and many of these will further appear. You can use the Red Orbs to buy items, which will help your character in battle, or to buy the aforementioned special moves that you can execute while in Devil guise. And like the Final Fantasy games, (a series I can’t compare with any other Capcom franchise, excluding Breath of Fire) you might even have to spend hours upon hours training Dante till you have his best moves and till you have the necessary items to beat the next boss. And aside from Red Orbs will be Green Orbs, which recover your health, Blue Orbs, which increase your vitality (most will come as fragments), and Yellow Orbs which give you another continue (you start with three and if you lose them all, you will get the Game Over screen in front of your face).
Aside from collecting orbs you might notice another thing: the game’s insane difficulty. While sometimes fair, most of the time it ends up being horribly cheap with monsters coming from all sides, leaving little room for you to attack. Bosses are no different. The first boss is enough to make gamers stop playing this game simply because he’s incredibly challenging. The second boss is much the same; blocking your moves and pummeling you with powerful black lightning attacks. One of the enemies, part of the Scissors clan, can even kill you when you’re at your best. The game’s troublesome camera doesn’t help matters either. Typical of Capcom, there are fixed camera angles and some of the times they’ll focus on the area you’re in, but not on Dante, making you confused as to what actions your character is doing. You’ll most likely lose him half the time, often leaving in a quick death.
Devil May Cry, even today, has some of the best graphics for the PlayStation 2 (they even excel over the sequel). Dante looks excellent, Trish looks sexy (though too muscular), and all of the game’s many different enemies vary in appearance and they all look far scarier then those moaning (and annoying) zombies from the Resident Evil games. Backgrounds are mostly pre-rendered, but they still look great and only suffer from some anti-aliasing problems here and there (so do the game’s ambitious cinemas). Animation is fluid (Dante doesn’t feel like he’s got a stick up his ass, unlike Capcom’s other protagonists), and colors are vibrant (each area looks different and each character/opponent has a distinct style and look so you can tell them apart). Finally, a thing that surprised me about Devil May Cry is that the frame-rate never chugs, and there’s almost no slowdown whatsoever. You can be going up against 10 Marionettes and the game will still be going at an amazingly fast pace.
Unfortunately, the audio ruins some of Devil’s quality. Though the occasional moans and grunts are heard, and some impress, everything else is in a very low-quality state. Background themes sound different, but seem to be repeated too often. The voice acting is nothing special as well. Trish sounds like she just got it in the ass, and Dante’s insipid lines and abysmal one-liners (“Let’s Rock, Baby”) could’ve been better left off. Still, the occasional background theme might impress you and the voice acting can be liked (and stomached) by anyone, as long as they can deal with the cheesiness of it all. In fact, come to think of it, I doubt you’ll even hear much since half the time you’re ears will become deaf with the mighty loud gunshot sounds. However, my point stands.
Dante May Die
Devil May Cry is a game that suffers problematic camera issues and unnecessary voice acting (with the occasional graphical hiccup and low audio quality), but why is it loved by so many? The game’s action always excites and is never repetitive. You can do the same hack-&-slash maneuver time and time again, and you still won’t be bored, I guarantee you. Everything is well balanced and the unique missions can hold your head and mesmerize you till you can’t stop playing for hours and hours to come. It’s one of the few games that I know of where game problems are eclipsed by the fun of it all. And fun is what many people crave nowadays, right?
Dante’s a sucky badass. Yes, sucky.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/27/03, Updated 02/27/03
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