Review by Soliduous

"THIS is what games should strive for"

My roommate bought me PS2 $20 Greatest Hits: Devil May Cry as a gift after seeing me all depressed for the week after the worst day of my life. Well, this game cheered my spirits somewhat. There’s something very calming about vicariously blowing away demons and jumping around. I originally granted this game a 9, but felt forced to

PRESENTATION - 7

GRAPHICS – 10
Poly count is good.

There are some nice effects, like lighting on the sword, and light-producing moving textures on some of the bosses. My favorite is the fact that in the sword swing arc distorts the background, rather than the traditional method of giving the sword-swing arc a blue or red glow. The flame effects of the fire gauntlets charging up are similarly nice, as are the discharges from all the firearms and the smoke trail of the RPG.

Enemies are very well done; each is very unique, not only to other enemies in the game, but also to other games; You’re not blasting zombies or standard demons, no. You’re blasting giant puppets being pulled around by strings that go up into the ceiling, flying skulls, flying wraiths with giant scissors, a shapeshifting shadow demon, a bat/doppleganger made out of lightning, and that doesn’t even cover any of the bosses!

Also of note is the fact that, even though the action takes place in a single castle (and a ship connected to it, and a portal to hell connected to it), every room has a unique look. Anytime you think, “wasn’t I here before?”, you were.

There are also some gorgeous scenes, like the one where you walk across this bridge, and the camera pans out to show both the doorway back into the castle and the nice sunset. The scene that really took my breath away was the first forest scene., which was just filled with well-rendered trees, flowing wind textures, and ent-like Fetish monsters with flames in their bellies. Visual cues abound, like fog being sucked in or blue flames leading to the door you’re supposed to go in. The game also has a darkened section where a glowing stone you collect casts a flashlight-styled bright glow that lights up parts of the darkened room in realtime. Gorgeous, gorgeous.

The main character, Dante, looks good in his flowing blood-red trenchcoat (He’s a ripoff of the anime series Hellsing’s main character, Alucard), and all the weapons look good. I love how the flaming discharge from each weapon is fully 3D, and all the little spent casings just pop out of the double pistols. Dante’s animations are superb. He’ll slyly gallop to the side when you strafe, flip and roll when dodging, and shoot both handguns in midair to slow his fall.

In short, this is a launch-ready game that’s equally as graphically beautiful as modern feats just because of the creative artistry.

SOUND – 6
Ok. It’s been praised by other reviewers, but it sounds like standard action techno stuff to me. The enemies sound good, especially when they give off their death howls, and all the gun blasts are all good.

STORY – 2
Devil May Cry started out as Resident Evil 4. The Resident Evil series was like an RPG (defined as any game without a controllable combat engine) in its adherence to a great story with tons of cutscenes and puzzles. It’s combat engine, based on a slow auto-aim and very limited ammo, sucked. DMC is NOTHING like any RE, in fact it’s the EXACT OPPOSITE. Sporting fewer cutscenes and a wonderous combat engine, Devil May Cry’s real failing is its painful story. It’s so cheesy, it hurts to watch. The secondary character, Trish, is a stereotype. She and Dante look like they were designed-by-committee. His moves are cool, and the enemies are all good, so just enjoy that.

CONTROL - 7

BUTTON ASSIGNMENT – 7
Left Analog – walk in the direction pressed, run if held all the way
Right Analog -nothing
D-pad - nothing
[] – shoot
X - shoot
O – swing sword, punch with flaming gauntlets
/_ - Jump, flip/roll if locked-on and you press a direction on the left analog
R1 – Lockon. Must be pressed to shoot any guns. In the event there are no enemies onscreen, Dante will “pretend” to lockon to whatever direction he was facing
L1 – trigger Devil Gauge powers
R2 - nothing
L2 – bring up map menu
Select – savefile menu
Start – weapon/map/otherstuff menu
R3 - nothing
L3 - nothing

CAMERA – 8
Devil May Cry, like all but the newest Resident Evils, Dino Crisis, Onimusha, and more recently Rygar, has fixed camera locations in pre-rendered backgrounds. Here, it works well, albeit not quite as well as in Metal Gear Solid 2, where the fixed cameras were flawless. Still, it works better than in the new Rygar, with the camera even cinematically following you in hallways. The game compensates for fast camera shift by letting you keep running in the same direction proportional to the world as long as you don’t let up the left analog stick in that direction after the camera changes. The autoaim takes care of finding enemies offscreen. I’ll say that I never died or lost health because I couldn’t see something, and it feels nice to have someone else control the camera for a change. I wouldn’t want to have to mess with it midcombat.

FEEL – 10
Like all great games, I think about DMC when I’m not playing it. Still, my mind is flipping for altitude, then blasting away with double handguns. Also like all good games with good control, it all becomes instinctive. I love how the rumbler lets you feel each gun discharge.

GAMEPLAY- 10

MECHANICS – 10
Devil May Cry is a strict, linear action game. Sure, you need to collect keys (each of which has a weird, pointless artifact-format), but these are just excuses to make you visit certain rooms and fight certain enemies in sequence. You can revisit rooms, and you do this mainly to collect more red orbs.

This kinda fighting, we need more of. You can equip one gun (dual pistols, shotgun, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, or demon bouncy-bouncy plasmapistol) and a melee weapon (lightning sword or flaming gauntlet), and switch off smoothly with these mid combat. Sword combos are often based on timing your button presses. You can do things like sword-hit once, swipe upwards to launch your enemy, and instantly pull out both handguns and empty 20 shots or so into the enemy, bullet impacts keeping him aloft, wait till he’s almost dead, then stop shooting and finish him off with two more sword swipes to get the best combo. The flaming gauntlets you collect a third of the way through the game let you hold down the O button to charge up any move of the combo you wish with extra firepower. Meanwhile, you need to be jumping like a loon to avoid the counterattack.

What rocks about this game, and gives it its depth, is how each new weapon opens up new possibilities without making the others useless; The Handguns are weak, but have the best rate of fire even at range, the best ability to slow down your fall from the air, and the best combo-getting ability. The shotgun can blast enemies backward, but only at close range. The RPG is the most powerful, but has the longest reload time, cannot be fired from the air (where you do most of your dodging), and doesn’t connect instantly (it flies across the stage) giving the enemy the opportunity to dodge it. Meanwhile, your sword has the speed and combo advantages vs the flaming gauntlet’s charged-up power abilities. What determines which range and melee combination you use is generally which enemy you face.

Each combo is rated for stylishness, which yields more red orbs. These are currency that let you buy special items (see below) or new combos for your sword or gauntlets.
4 Blue orbs (rare) increase your health gauge.
Yellow orbs let you continue, rather than having to reload the game from the last mission. Run out, and you have to reload your game.
Green orbs increase your health; groups of enemies will occasionally drop one.
Purple orbs (purchase only) increase your Devil Gauge.

The devil gauge, triggered with L1, turns Dante into a demon, making him less vulnerable, healing him slowly, charging his guns and weapons with much more energy, and allowing him to use the most powerful upgrades. You build up the gauge by hitting enemies, and triggering it is key during boss fights.

There are a few short, first-person underwater sequences, and these are handled well.

In addition, there are secret missions (for extra blue orbs), but these can only be triggered at very specific points. My biggest annoyance with DMC is that I had to restart the game from scratch TWICE because I missed triggering the secret missions at the right time.

This system works very well, and keeps things fun and balanced. Yes, Devil May Cry is hard, but hardly impossible. Once you get the system and pick up some upgrades, you’re fine. Only the Secret Missions are very challenging. It’s never unfair by abusing camera angles (as in the sequel, DMC2) or withholding necessary checkpoints (Shinobi) or making you do frustrating backtracking (Galerians: Ash). It takes skill, yes, but skill, not luck.

ENEMIES – 10
Enemies are superbly designed (see my comments on graphics). The bosses are equally cool and unique. Often, you’ll fight the same boss more than once in different missions as he gets stronger. They’re not cheap, they have cool, unique, interesting tactics, and are often especially more susceptible to specific weapons.
Sure, aliens, robots, and zombies would have been expected. Instead, we get the coolest, most original demons: puppets with visible strings, a shapeshifiting shadowcat, wraiths with giant scissors, leaping lizards, giant rock spiders, etc. Each enemy has multiple different attacks, to keep things interesting.

VALUE – 10
For $20, you can now get a better game in most ways than new games. DMC is simple fun for all 15 hours (23 missions) of the first play-through, which then unlocks Easy Automatic mode and the first of 2 Hard difficulty levels. There’s also a self-updating minifile on each enemy you’ll encounter, and 12 secret missions. YES, you should buy it! From what I understand, it’s much better than its sequel.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/11/03, Updated 03/11/03


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