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Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Special Edition Review
Posted on April 15, 2009 by Original-Gamer.com

All was not right in the DMC universe after the release of Part II. Even though it was what the fans had asked for, many gamers complained that Part 2 was far too easy and that Dante was no longer his sarcastic self. In another attempt to give gamers exactly what they said they wanted, Devil May Cry 3:  Dante's Awakening was released in 2005. As this was from the producers of the original, gamers could expect a return to form. Did this game go as planned?

Devil May Cry 3 is a prequel, taking place before all the other DMC entries chronologically. This bit of storytelling was mostly used to tell us how the twins, Dante and Vergil, ended up following different paths in life and the forces that led them there. A few ancillary characters also have important roles in Dante's awakening and Vergil's turn to evil.

Besides this, the story concerns a sudden demon attack on Dante's office, Devil May Cry, by a group of enemies called the 7 Hells. Dante thrashes them all (while eating a pizza, no less) and discovers that they are a challenge from Vergil. Dante grabs his coat and answers the call. Then the game begins.

One thing that is immediately apparent in Part 3 is the graphics. They are much more in tune with the first game, almost as if the developers were spitting out DMC 2 like a bad taste in their mouths. Gothic architecture is prevalent again and the rooms tend to be smaller, with far fewer of the wide-open areas of DMC 2. The only area akin to part 2 is the underground river, but it still has that sense of the first game more than anything.

Dante, being younger, gets a slight redesign, which mostly means more topless shots and more shaggy-like hair. He may be younger, but he's still Dante. Vergil being a twin, looks similar with some unique hair design. His flowing blue coat and neat gauntlets provide a nice look. His sword, Yamato, is definitely a highlight.

Enemies in Devil May Cry 3 are menacing once again. Besides the aforementioned 7 Hells, the Lizard-like enemies return along with some new baddies. I like the grim reaper miniboss, the wraith-looking soldiers and the angels later on. The enemies are a big upgrade from the endless repetition of DMC 2.

The bosses are epic, with pre-match taunting entering the fray once more. Highlights include Agni and Rudra, Cerberus and Beowulf. I had hoped for more back story on Beowulf, especially as he claimed to know Sparda, but that's what you get when you mess with Vergil...

Something unique to Devil May Cry 3 is weapon acquisition; they all come from these bosses, spoils of your victory, and a neat feeling that they are fighting alongside you. I especially like how the twin swords talk and Dante tells them to be quiet.

The music in Devil May Cry 3 also seeks to correct the blandness of part 2 with a greater focus on the style of the original. In addition to this self-correction, DMC 3 features Shawn McPherson of Hostile Groove performing a pretty awesome metal song during most of the game's standard battles as well as some of the boss encounters. The song itself is weird, in that it would be repetitive if it weren't so damn awesome; it is like "The Concept of Love" of metal game music.

DMC 3's score is the longest yet, coming in at 3 discs and over 3 hours of music. One may think that a score longer than FFVI would falter at points, but this is not the case. Sure, there are some quieter more somber tracks that may be a tough pill for regular listening, but they always work in game. When the game's music is on, it's ON. The various battle themes have a great sense of energy similar to the original, yet also unique.

Gameplay is interesting because unlike most other areas of the game, DMC 3 also takes pages from Devil May Cry 2 for its gameplay systems. The real time weapon switching returns and some of Dante's more acrobatic moves find their way into the different fighting styles. Oh yes, let's talk about Dante's different styles.

Given the different combat styles of the weapons of the first Devil May Cry, the creators of Part 3 were inspired to create 4 separate and distinctive styles for Dante to use. Trickster focuses on evasive maneuvers, including an invincible dash function, great for evading attacks. Swordmaster allows the use of additional special moves for all the game's weapons, and is my current favorite. The extra moves are really flashy and can kill lots of enemies quickly. Gunslinger is for those who prefer guns. I haven't used it much, but I do know that the charge shots factor into this style. Maybe I'll try it next time. Lastly, is Royal Guard, which is a purely defensive style and ideal for those looking for a challenge. Much like parrying in Street Fighter III, Royal Guard can make the game very easy if you are skilled at it, right down to the point where you can break through any enemy attack, earning devil trigger points along the way. Royal Guard is definitely for the more skilled DMC players.

These styles level up with experience and their abilities improve as they level up, be it with faster charges or quicker dashes. The Styles system is a great addition to the Devil May Cry series and allows for great replay value. Play the game with one style, have a great time, then play it with another style. You may be surprised at how different the game feels.

The rest of the gameplay consists mostly of holdovers from past games. You collect red orbs to buy upgrades and level up weapons as well as purchase continues and healing items. Depending on which version you are playing, the continue system varies quite a bit, so watch what you spend your money on. More on this later.

Challenge is the elephant in the room. In the 2005 version, subtitled Dante's Awakening, this game uses a stifling continue system that requires the player to replay the whole level if they die at the boss. The only continue option is the yellow orbs that serve as extra lives. Due to this prohibitive high cost in early chapters, anything less than farming orbs will find the player having to play these sections over and over again if they should fail.

Besides this, in a move of epic incompetence, the US version actually uses the "hard" setting of the JPN version as its default. Because of this, many sites recommended unlocking the "easy" setting so as to allow a bit of a reprieve on the difficulty. I remember struggling through those early levels on the 2005 version, but patience and pattern memorization served me well. Thankfully, the difficulty tapers off as you progress further into the game.

Replay value is very high. Unlockable difficulties and extra characters are many in number and worth the effort. I always appreciate a game whose extra difficulties have different enemies throughout and whose costumes are more than just different character skins or models. Devil May Cry 3 is one of those.

Challenge in the Special Edition 2006 release fixes the difficulty issue with a new continue system. The player can now continue at selected checkpoints and make use of Gold Orbs for instant resurrection. This is more like Devil May Cry 2 with only a bit of the first game thrown in. This method is definitely more forgiving and makes the game play more smoothly. And if you want to use the original, you have that option. I also recommend no-death Ghosts and Goblins runs for further enjoyment...

Replay value is very high. Unlockable difficulties and extra characters are many in number and worth the effort. I always appreciate a game whose extra difficulties have different enemies throughout and whose costumes are more than just different character skins or models. Devil May Cry 3 is one of those.

The 2006 Special Edition also adds Vergil as a playable character. He is stronger than Dante right off the bat, with 3 unique weapons, a unique style, and disembodied swords instead of guns. He's awesome. He also has several unlockable costumes (some of which have hidden abilities) just like Dante in the original.

Also added in the Bloody Palace Mode, which is akin to a survival mode. You face a certain number of enemies per floor and then can advance 1, 10 or 100 floors until the end. It is a fun endurance challenge and a great way to collect red orbs for in-game use. Other additions to the Special Edition include a boss battle with the enigmatic Jester, a new very hard mode (which is actually just another bit of confusion from the JPN version that I never cared to get the details on, it is worth playing for another unlockable outfit), and a turbo mode, which makes the game about 20 percent faster. Turbo mode is mostly to mess with people who think their combos are ace and have mastered this game. Now try and master it with faster enemies!

Overall, Devil May Cry 3 is my favorite in the series and probably the most well rounded of them all. The difficulty may be brutal to some, but there are provisions for that. Those who invest the necessary time will find an engrossing game full of unbeatable action, dynamic characters, sweet weapons, and imposing bosses. Dante is back and greatness returns with him!

- Ugly Bob

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