Review by Croco
"An Entertaining, But Not Groundbreaking, Experience"
Devil May Cry has been an interesting property for me lately. For the first time a few months ago, I rented a Resident Evil game and experienced the much-acclaimed series. Though a quick rental may not have given me a solid stance on the game, I walked away unimpressed and annoyed with many small, yet antagonizing problems in the formula of the game. However, this RE game I rented was Resident Evil: Code Veronica X, meaning that I was also given a chance to test out the Devil May Cry in the demo that was included.
From the first moment of turning on that demo, I realized that many of the complaints that I had with Code Veronica were solved in Devil May Cry. But while I could see many similarities in the structure of both RE and DMC, they both were two distinct entities. DMC was the type of RE-style game I was looking for.
Dante, Devil May Cry’s protagonist, have a dispersal of weapons and special attacks that he learns and acquires throughout his quest. There are a handful of different swords and guns, and both thunder and fire special attacks. Dante has the power to summon the powers of demons, and when accessible, he can change forms and become more powerful.
Enemies and bosses are a big part of this game, and you’ll encounter plenty of both in this game. Enemies come in many different varieties, each with their own unique attacks, animations, and appearance.
Now onto Devil May Cry’s evaluation… did it end up being as good as it sounded? Does it break the mold of the Resident Evil series?
Graphical Appearance: 9.5
Like RE and other survival horror games, the limited perspective allows Devil May Cry to have some fantastic-looking environments. You’ll see realistic textures and cool looking things like crumbled stone, grass, and reflecting pools. In one area, you find yourself inside a misty forest, overrun by plants, which gives off a very unique atmosphere. The environments vary in size from small rooms to large arenas. The characters as well are very smooth and look excellent, but occasionally polygon tearing will occur. The only thing I would have liked to have seen more would be dramatic lighting effects. Lighting effects are here, but don’t really add as much to the creepy setting as they could.
Dante walks, runs, jumps, leaps across large pits, swings his sword in a bunch of different ways, trots while firing a gun, and does a whole lot of other things. Not only is he looking smooth and life-like, the enemies and bosses do as well with distinct animations for each of their attacks. Dante’s running motion looks a tad strange and there’s not variety in his jumping or attacking motions, but it’s still very good. My major gripe is that, like RE games of past, most of the environments in DMC are completely static. This suits many places adequately, but it would have been nice to see dripping water or grass blowing in the wind, or perhaps even more complex animations pertaining to the area.
Devil May Cry runs at a healthy, constant framerate, never dropping noticeably and keeping its pace when there are several enemies onscreen. You can’t ask for more than this.
In the earlier incarnations of the RE series, the perspective was always in the form of a fixed camera. These camera locations meant dramatic viewpoints that looked very pretty, but all too often were you placed in a poor position and your view was obstructed by the poor camera view. In RE: Code Veronica, the camera moved with your character over a distance along a set track. DMC takes the idea from Code Veronica, and most of the time it works well. Less camera changing means less fumbling with the controls, but quick switching and needing to reorient yourself does happen. There were many times in this game, especially in boss battles, where the camera restricted me from seeing the enemy. In the heat of battle, this isn’t really acceptable. DMC gets the cool camera angles, but it sacrifices gameplay in the process. Until the camera is totally free to move around or there are better/alternate views, this will be a problem.
Response/Ease of Use: 8.75
One of my biggest complaints with RE was the terrible controls. They really weren’t designed very well; you used the D-Pad only for turning, no auto-aiming, you couldn’t fire a weapon and walk… the list goes on. If you’ve ever thought “Wouldn’t it make more sense if Capcom did this?” while playing RE, you’ll notice that it’s probably already been done in Devil May Cry.
There are two main problems with the controls, though. The first deals with the camera. Whenever the perspective switches, the direction you press to go forward/backwards will also usually change. Capcom has subsided this problem as best they could by allowing you to continue to move in the same direction while holding the stick in the same position, but you’ll still need to eventually switch to the controls for the new perspective. This is really more of a result of the sub-par camera, and really isn’t too big of a deal itself.
The second problem is the direction that Dante faces while attacking. When you swing a sword or fire a gun, Dante will immediately face towards the nearest enemy. However, this isn’t always the enemy you want to attack, and sometimes you may not even want to be attacking an enemy at all. This happens more than you’d think, and will leave you vulnerable and wastes valuable time. I think a “lock-on” button would’ve worked much better.
All-in-all, the controls are a big improvement over previous survival horror games, but aren’t quite where they should be for a game that focuses so much on frantic combat where precision and skill is necessary and cannot be hampered by controls.
Control Innovation: 8.25
DMC uses the control stick for smooth movement, and when you press in a certain direction, you’ll go in that direction. This is a big improvement over the standard RE set-up. The other buttons are rather basic: jump, fire gun, swing sword. No big additions or special uses for the controls here, but for a game like this, it gets the job done well.
The music in this game is regularly more of a distant, background tune used to promote the spooky atmosphere. When enemies appear, the music picks up and stays loud while the enemies are still around. The music is pretty good and fits well, but there isn’t much variety. I was disappointed that there’s only a handful of different melodies you’ll hear throughout the entire game.
Sound Effects: 9.25
Devil May Cry is filled with an abundance of sounds. Dante will yell out as he swings he sword, it will clash against strong objects and slice through enemies. The guns each produce distinct sounds, and the enemies all are recognizable by their cries. Very well done.
Dante, Trish, and several of the bosses are voice-acted. Their voices are appropriate, and the acting, while not entirely un-cheesy, is pretty good. You won’t encounter a lot of dialog, but there’s not that many cutscenes to put them in.
Story Idea: 8.25
The premise for the story is pretty decent: Dante is the son of a demon who protected earth from an invasion by Mundus, emperor of the underworld. Now Mundus is rising again and preparing conquest, and it’s Dante’s turn to stop him. It makes sense of the demonic atmosphere and enemies, and overall sets everything up nicely, despite it’s lack of true originality.
Overall Story: 7.0
DMC’s story is pretty basic. While Dante and the other characters show many touching emotions (I was crying so hard! :P), the plot, all in all, isn’t incredibly complex or interesting. You could pretty much write down your predictions for what would happen in the game and get I right. Attempts for surprising revelations during the game were predictable. What you’d expect from an action game like this.
Unlike the Resident Evil series, I chose not to classify Devil May Cry as a survival horror game because it doesn’t have the fear factor that RE is known for. While some locations in the game may be pretty creepy, you won’t likely ever get past the stage of thinking you’re about to be scared.
The Intro is pretty cool, and introduces you to Dante and his personality. It sets up the story pretty nicely, but doesn’t do a whole lot more. What you’d expect from a Capcom intro.
The ending is pretty cool. It’s full of action, has incredible graphics, and in one segment you actually take control for an intense experience. I think that given the story it was based on, they couldn’t have done a much better job.
If you’ve heard anything about DMC, you’ve probably heard about how it’s combat is supposedly silky smooth and very intricate. Going into the game, this is what I expected. The unfortunate part is that when it comes down to it, it’s the same basic hack and slash gameplay other action games utilize.
Perhaps the reason I’m so saddened by this is because it came so close to being much more than this. In some areas, some boss battles in particular, you can’t just hack your way to winning. You have to learn the attacks, how to dodge them, and how to attack in return. This is the ideal, but it’s still a little ways away from truly being that, as frantic slashing and shooting is still very prominent, especially among common enemies. If the complexity of needed to learn how to fight were entirely there, I may have had less feelings of “Dammit, this stupid boss cheated!” and more “I sure do suck.”
Part of the reason there’s not a whole lot of thought needed is because combat really is fairly simple. There are a wide variety of attacks you can use, but under most circumstances the standard sword swing is what is most effective. Needing to use certain moves for certain enemies or to counter certain attacks would have been very nice.
I must say though that I am being a bit critical in this category, as you will put much more thought into fighting than you would into any other action game out there. It’s just that it didn’t quite make it to where it needs to be to become a truly excellent and innovative game.
Aside from combat, things are fairly standard and not too wild of ideas. The most notable feature is the need to purchase new moves and items by using orbs found after defeating enemies.
REPLAY VALUE: 8.0
Extra Features/Unlockables: 7.75
After completing the game on the Normal difficulty, you’ll be asked to play it again on Hard mode, and subsequently Dante Must Die mode. Both are much harder, but will unlock special bonuses upon completion. While this is a good enough amount of unlockable features, there really isn’t a whole lot to drive you to complete the game multiple times with them.
Alternate Paths/Side-Quests: 8.0
Scattered in the various DMC levels are 12 Secret Missions. The entrances to these are hidden in out of the way locations and you’ll probably not find them all on your first time through. Even when you do find them, completing the specific tasks they ask requires impeccable skill. Finding and completing all of these is a big reason to replay the game.
On its downside, DMC is a very linear game, so playing through a second time will not offer much in the way of new things to see that you missed before in the normal environments.
Other Replay Value Features: 8.25
Also found in the DMC missions are Blue Orb Fragments, helpful objects hidden in strange locations finding all of them can be quite a task.
Perhaps the biggest feature for Replay Value is the Rankings system. At the end of each mission, you’re given a grade on your performance based on time, red orbs collected, damage taken, and other things. Getting S Ranks, the highest ranking, is your goal throughout the game, and at the end your total performance will be shown to you.
Game Length: 8.0
Devil May Cry is comprised of 23 missions. Each will usually take around 5 to 20 minutes to complete. So, that’s around a five hour game, right? At the end of the game, your game time may be somewhere around that number, but it’s very likely you’ll have spent much double or triple that time in completing this game. Taking into consideration the difficulty and replay value, this game will entertain you for a while.
Playing the game through on the Normal difficulty setting the first time through is ideal. It provides a good amount of difficulty while remaining a realistic effort for the player if they’re willing to give it a shot. You will get asked shortly into the game if you’d like to switch to the Easy Mode, though I’d prefer if you’d have to start a new game to switch, thus discouraging the easy way out.
After completing the game, you’ll unlock Hard mode, and after that, the Dante Must Die mode. Both are very difficult and a true challenge to players. Not only are enemies stronger, sometimes weaker enemies are replaced by stronger ones and some helpful items are replaced by less helpful ones.
Overall, the game is set at a very good challenge level on the Normal Mode; hard enough so you’ll need to play through the more difficult portions a few times, but easy enough that you don’t get overly frustrated over the impossibility of it all.
All in all, this game offers some good fun. Fights with enemies are a bit more mindless than I would have liked, but are still relatively enjoyable. The boss battles are the most difficult and exiting parts of the game, and are actually quite frequent. Satisfaction from beating hard bosses is great.
Aside from Combat, your goals are basically to find a certain item and take it to a certain point. No puzzles, no thinking, just getting the item to where it needs to be. This is really where the game is lacking, because you can’t expect fighting enemies alone to make the game loads of fun.
In some areas, you’ll be required to do some tricky platforming, which spices things up. This really sets DMC apart from RE, and all thanks to a little jump button.
Little bonuses entice you to do well in the game, such as the rankings, blue orb fragments, and secret mission mentioned earlier. Also, by defeating more enemies and collecting red orbs, you can purchase new moves, more life, and other things.
For combat that isn’t all that complex and “bring red key to red door” style gameplay, DMC still managed to be a rather fun experience, it just didn’t blow me away.
Devil May Cry had me playing a lot, but most of it was done in short segments. I was never really hooked on the game (and when Grand Theft Auto 3 came around, I almost stopped playing this game all together), but it did hold me in.
The dark, demonic atmosphere is quite apparent in the locales you’ll explore in the game. The bosses, dreary underground caverns, crumbled ruins, and barren fields will all emit an atmosphere that is very conducive to the story and style of game DMC is.
One thing lacking from DMC is the scariness of the RE series. Although this is more of an Action game than a Survival Horror one, I would have liked to see Capcom utilize the setting and evil presence to provide some scary situations.
One thing DMC definitely has style and flair. Everything in this game will seem pretty cool as you watch or play it, from the frontend to the cutscenes.
Loading Times: 9.5
Loading times are nearly nonexistent in the game. Besides a short wait period while loading a game or getting to a new mission, there’s practically no waiting at all. Even these periods are very short and only last around 5 seconds in length.
OVERALL SCORE: 8.3
Precise Score: 8.28926
QuikReview Score: 8.5
All in all, DMC is a good game, but it just didn’t wow me all that much. It’s a huge improvement over the standard Resident Evil game, but these are really corrections for stupid mistakes that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. As an Action game, DMC doesn’t really do all that much to deviate from the traditional ass-kicking style of fighting and mundane item-hunting gameplay. It does manage to do a pretty good job, but not good enough to truly excel.
Now the tough part… should you buy DMC or not? It’s really a pretty difficult decision, as I could easily see you going both ways. Even though I didn’t give it a spectacular review, I don’t have any regrets from purchasing it. If you don’t expect a mind-blowing, genre-busting experience that last you a month, this game will entertain you enough to buy. If not, a rental is highly recommended.
See the deluxe version of this review at http://www.geocities.com/croco64/devilmaycryreview.html
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 11/12/01, Updated 11/12/01
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