Devil May Cry is a continuing series by Capcom, the first of which was released in October of 2001. The first year of the Playstation 2 had some titles of dubious worth; some were beginning to wonder if the hype for the PS2 had been too much. Then Onimusha came along and Capcom with it to save the day for the beleaguered PS2. Shortly after that game's success, Devil May Cry was announced. Several ideas that Capcom had wanted to put into Onimusha were ultimately used in DMC, so the connection between the two projects is clear.
Devil May Cry originally started life as the 4th Resident Evil game. No gamer really knows what the game would have been like if it had stayed as a RE game, especially considering the completely different type of gameplay present.
After this game's announcement, a lot of PS2 fans were excited, as games like this and Metal Gear Solid 2:Sons of Liberty were sure to be killer apps for the new system, games that would propel the console to respectability. I followed the game's development closely, as news was leaked that the game would be more action-based than Onimusha (whose action was already pretty darn neat) with a much more agile protagonist named Dante.
Early screenshots showed Dante fighting ghosts, grim reaper-looking things, and possessed dolls. It was clear that Capcom had something exciting on their minds. Between Dante's superior agility that hearkened back to 2D action games and the guns having infinite ammo, it was clear that Devil May Cry would not just be Resident Evil with more action. To me, it looked like a modern day revival of the many classic 8-bit action genres, like Contra and Ninja Gaiden.
A demo of the game was first included with Resident Evil: Code Veronica X. This demo did much to highlight the new gameplay experience, confirming that the creators of Resident Evil had something new in mind for Devil May Cry. The demo really teased the player for the full release, by not including a boss and having the demo end right before the fight with the Black Knight.
Enough about the game's development background, on with the review. Devil May Cry follows the story of a demon hunter named Dante who works out of a place of the title's name. Due to the secrecy of his work, all callers must have a password in order for Dante to accept their request. One day, Dante is bemoaning his recent lack of work when a lady on a motorcycle suddenly crashes throughout his window. The woman, identifying herself as Trish, tests Dante's abilities in a very cool cutscene. Upon resolution, she informs him about the coming of evil on Mallet Island. Because of Trish's knowledge, Dante immediately accepts the assignment. After some more expository cutscenes, the game begins.
The game's graphics are really easy to recommend. This is as such due to the graphics not just being excellent, but the environs being really detailed and beautiful as well. There is a real gothic sense to the architecture throughout the game that really serves it well. I especially like the look of the main hallway and the courtyard later on.
Dante is a very well rendered character, looking simultaneously somber and badass. He has nice-looking white hair, a cool outfit, and loads of style. The many monsters are equally impressive, a basic enemy, the Shadow, could easily be a boss in another game. DMC's bosses are without peer. Massive monsters, overgrown creatures, they all fit right into the game, like they just belong there. Highlights include the Phantom, a volcanic spider the size of an elephant. He also knows how to make quite the entrance.
The music of Devil May Cry is some of the best I've heard in any action game ever. The bosses all have suitably epic themes, designed to give the feeling of a battle to the death, especially with some of remixes of these themes. The save room, Divinity Statue, is a very smoothing and peaceful piece that serves the castle surroundings well. Most of the score is rock based; even basic enemies get a rocking groove. The music seems intended to fit into the stylish nature of the game, and it does that with aplomb.
Sound effects deserve a mention as well. Dante has the pretty standard grunts and groans when he takes damage, but it is the enemies that shine once again. From the lion-like roars of the Shadows to the shrieks of the Sin family, Devil May Cry boasts lots of impressive sound effects. The bosses have great sound effects too, but it is their speech that makes them stand out from normal foes. The first time you encounter Phantom, he delivers a great set of lines with a gutturally deep set of pipes that makes the dialogue all the more menacing. "Bah, another small one!, I was hoping for something a little bigger!" Dante takes his taunting in stride, and has some taunts of his own. If a lava-emitting spider doesn't intimidate you, I guess nothing does!
Devil May Cry's gameplay is like a 3D version of the action games of past consoles. You control Dante from a 3rd person perspective with a standard lifebar for damage purposes. The game uses a mission system quite similar to the levels of older games. The "lives" system has gone the way of the dodo thankfully. The lifebar and several other elements can be upgraded through the use of red demon souls, which can be found throughout the environment and obtained from defeated enemies. Dante also makes use of firearms for long range attacks, they also play a role in DMC's combo system. The combo system goes from D to S and determines the amount of orbs enemies drop as well as factor in to the ranking system. The game also makes use of simple puzzles to mix things up. There is much more to the gameplay, especially involving the Devil Trigger system, but what has been said is sufficient.
Challenge in this game also hearkens back to the 2D classics. DMC is quite unforgiving in its difficulty, often requiring the player to use several different techniques to succeed. There are no real abilities that the player can rely on for the whole game. Bosses, obstacles, and basic enemies are designed with this in mind. The first time you play this game on the normal difficulty, you may die several times. The game is one of the first to feature a reduced difficulty based on player performance. I advise players to persist, as lowering the difficulty has permanent side effects.
Devil May Cry's replay value is very high, with multiple difficulty levels. I especially like how higher difficulties change the enemies throughout the game, it is not just a matter of enemies doing more damage to Dante and he doing less to them. Also there is a new character in the Legendary Dark Knight mode.
DMC wants the player to try the higher difficulties, as when you complete hard mode and above, you are able to carry over your enhanced stats and all your items and upgrades, making the going a bit easier. This can be abused, so don't rely on it to beat the highest difficulty, Dante Must Die!, in which the enemies can also devil trigger, making them harder to kill and do loads more damage. A very neat secret is unlocked should you beat DMD mode.
In summation, Devil May Cry is an amazing game that began a great new franchise for Capcom. The main character is cool, the combat is fun and innovative, the foes are challenging, and the game is a blast to play. Anyone worried about its above average difficulty should just ease their way into it. Nothing in this game is so hard that it can't be overcome through patience and skill.
- Ugly Bob