Review by NightmareButter

"DMC 3 is a true action/adventure invitation. Please, accept it."

Let's make this as simple as possible, and assume you already know and love DMC 1 and, well... have put DMC 2 out of your memory. This shows that you understand what DMC and it's mechanics, production and polish should be.

Graphics: 9
DMC 1 is, when you look at it, still one of the best-looking PS2 games ever made, and it's years old! DMC3 is even better looking, with more detail and effects to bring the experience home. More important than the quality of the graphics themselves, though, is the style itself. This game is goth-soaked bliss, with decayed urban streets, bright yet seedy nightclubs, sculpted towers and wretched underworld settings. All the details are here. Just look at the way the Temen-ni-gru tower is festooned with carved pillars, spiny rails along the floor, and giant clock gears straight out of castlevania-yet better-and you'll get just a small sense of how hard these guys worked on the art. The character and level designs are top-notch. Must be seen to be believed.

Sound: 8
The soundtrack is a hit-or-miss, depending on whether or not you like the metal mixes in the game. That said, it does fit the game nicely and it is properly used. For example, when you encounter Cerberus, he'll give his spiel about how Dante isn't worthy to cross through. As Dante begins talking trash, you'll notice an antagonistic guitar riff and popping drums slowly amping up in the background. That kind of thing does a lot to help keep the feel of DMC strong. The Goth-choir tunes are great and very well done. The SFX are also great, bringing back DMC1's superior ebony&ivory sample, a piercing, slamming pop that makes it just plain fun to shoot, even when there's nothing around! Sword hits are appropriately metallic and ringy, with that cutting, sharp "whing" that's unmistakable. Cerberus's nunchaku sound off with a blunt, crushing "whump-whump-boof!" that's right on the money. The list goes on and on. Hats off to the sound engineers.

Never a key player in the DMC franchise, the plot has been finally given the proper treatment. Though peppered here and there with good amounts of extreme impossibility and camp, everything is fleshed out nicely. Vergil is cold to the core, Arkham a mysterious and evil-obsessed minion, Lady a hardcore brat, and Dante...well, you should know by now. He's so hardcore it's ridiculous, which is exactly what DMC is about. You're not just playing to "beat the game," but to see where it all goes and where everyone ends up. It's a major step up and does wonders for your involvement with the game. The cutscenes are unapologetically over-the top. I mean, when you really look at them, they are pretty ridiculous, but as you get to know the game, you realize...that's the point! Hard-core action scenarios in movies and games tend to be all about brooding and reluctance, but DMC makes it confident and fun.

In any game, this is where it all needs to come through, otherwise the game falls apart. Luckily, Dante's Awakening comes through in spades. It seems prohibitively hard at first, until you level up and get some practice. If you stick with it long enough, you'll understand how the battles work. Your timing will improve, and you'll eventually understand when to dodge/block, and when to stay put and whoop evil ass. You're also allowed to replay missions at your leisure, so you can spend as much time as you need upgrading your health/arsenal, as well as getting the essential combat practice and enemy pattern memorization.

The combat itself is as good as it gets. Once you expand your skillset, you'll have an overwhelming array of moves at your disposal. The great thing about DMC is that the gameplay is every bit as good as you are. After a few honest hours of fine-tuning, you'll be pulling off huge strings of combos, switching weapons and guns on the fly, doing things that seem impossible at first. Doing well in fights pays off with lots of orbs (DMC currency) which in turn lets you become even stronger and more versatile. Soon, enemies that gave you a hard time will be nothing more than animated sandbags asking for a beautiful beatdown. It really doesn't get any better than this.

Closing comments: Enough already. Just pick the damned thing up and play the Hell out if it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/05/05

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