Devil May Cry was one of the PS2's first big successes and began a new franchise for Capcom, what with the great action and badass character Dante. A sequel was inevitable, and it arrived on January 25th, 2003. A lot of people thought that the original was pretty unforgiving with its difficulty, and Capcom promised to make the sequel friendlier in that area. How did it turn out?
DMC 2 saw the return of Dante, the white-haired demon slayer and conqueror of Mundus (If that's a spoiler, get off your butt and play the first game!) along with the introduction of Lucia, a fellow demon hunter and guardian of Dumary Island. She also happens to be female. The story begins with Lucia under attack from bird demons while she is searching for an ancient artifact. Dante enters in typical fashion and takes care of business. Then a little conversation happens and the game begins. There isn't much of a story in the prologue, but some interesting events (mostly cutscenes) happen throughout the game.
The graphics in Devil May Cry 2 are a big improvement in some ways, and a disappointment in other ways. The environments are much larger, to the point that the characters often look like specks on the screen. This is a bit of a double-edge sword, as it can make navigation difficult at times. Dante and Lucia are sharp looking characters with plenty of detail, even though Lucia only seems to have one eye. Dante looks a lot older with a new outfit and a more sullen attitude, which many DMC veterans balked at. I didn't think much about it then and don't much now either.
The enemies are another area of graphical disappointment. In any other game, these creatures would do very well. But after the imaginative and detailed monsters of the previous game, the beasts in part 2 are a clear step down. The look of the enemies is just not very creative, with far too many iron maiden like foes and goatmen to fight. Then there are the annoying flying sprites. Pretty lame. The bosses are a mixed bag. I famously heard that the first boss could be beaten without looking at the screen on the easiest difficulty due to its simplistic patterns. Some of these beasts are imaginative, like Trisgarmina (sp?) and the building boss, whose name I will not even try to spell. That's an interesting thing about DMC 2. The developers seemed to spend more time coming up with creative names for the bosses than giving them fleshed out fighting techniques.
Music is also a step down from the first game, but it still maintains the action sense that allows it to succeed as a score, but only for in-game listening. DMC 2 is the only series score that I don't want, mostly because some tunes seem interchangeable, like they could be played anywhere in the game, and you would never notice.
There are some standout tracks and I'm glad that the music of DMC isn't totally gone. I like the somber pieces of scaling the Uroborus Tower and the Race to the Demon Realm of the Final Stage. The last stage has a lot of energy and foreboding, as if you may actually encounter some foes with the tenacity of the original game.
Gameplay in DMC 2 follows in the same vein of the original, with some additions, some cool, others just unnecessary. Dante and Lucia can run straight up walls now, which is supposed to be useful for evasion, but is just not needed due to the enemies' being so stupid. This game also saw the premiere of two-directional shooting, which saw much greater use in the 3rd game, so points for that. The best additions are the evasion button and weapon cycling. The evasion button is great for keeping your combo going and makes the easy bosses even easier. Weapon cycling is just what it sounds like, another thing that the series has continued to use. Being able to switch weapons on the fly is a great addition and helps to keep the combat from becoming stale, sometimes...
Lucia plays similar to Dante with bladed weapons instead of swords. She has different weapons, mostly projectile based. Her Devil Trigger resembles a bird. The cranky bombs are probably the neatest new thing in the game, they are like grenades and several can be thrown at a time to juggle enemies for combos. And only Lucia can use them! Hey, Dante does get a very cool (and powerful) rocket launcher.
The Devil Trigger system is retained and functions pretty much as in the original. Some of the inherent abilities have been nerfed, like flying. Aerial maneuvering now requires the use of Hearts that can be fitted into slots. The Aerial Heart lets you fly. Another gives you fire attacks and so on. This is a bit of a downgrade from the very different Devil Triggers of the original.
Many negative reviews of DMC 2 seem to focus on its reduced difficulty as one of the main reasons that this entry can't compare to the original. To reiterate, I don't think this is fair, as gamers whined about the first game's difficulty, so Capcom made the 2nd game easier. Oh I think I get it, it was everyone else who thought that DMC was too hard, not you. You being everyone...
Anyway, it is true that this game suffers from vastly decreased difficulty. The enemies rarely fight back, the guns are too powerful, the bosses simplistic, and healing items are plentiful. There are many ways to reduce difficulty without making the game boring. Devil May Cry 2 doesn't quite get there. The game isn't boring, but it often feels like a chore to play because of the utter lack of skill required. It is best to play this game in small doses, and thankfully the replay value suits this, being very high. There are multiple new costumes for both characters to unlock, all of which make them look very different from the original. All too often alternate costumes consist of little more than a different color skin. Due to DMC 2's ad tie-in with the Diesel clothing brand, you can be sure that every outfit is very unique.
There is a very cool secret character that can be used for either character's missions, even though they don't really differ that much. They have their own weapons, special moves, and other cool features. Lastly, there is a new game plus feature that will allow you to use all your additions, red orbs, leveled up weapons, and items from the beginning. It is less restrictive and better suited to the replayability factor.
Overall, the initial disappointment of Devil May Cry 2 has passed over time. This also allows gamers to look at it more objectively and realize it is a fun well-made game. As a sequel, it just had very big shoes to fill. The best way to consider DMC 2 is that it is the "least best" of the series, but still worth playing, and honestly, still a few steps ahead of most games.
- Ugly Bob