Saturday, March 31, 2012

Devil May Cry - The Devil That Never Dies


In an effort to build up to Capcom's upcoming DmC: Devil May Cry, I have taken it upon myself to replay and review every Devil May Cry game released to date. I will begin of course with the original Devil May Cry, released by Capcom in 2001. It was originally intended to be Resident Evil 4, but during development it was transformed into the gaming juggernaut that is still around today. Having barely played the Resident Evil games, though I do plan on doing so in the future, I don't really have anything much to say regarding this point.

Before I start, I'll admit right off the bat that I played on the Easy Automatic mode, mainly because I completely sucked at the Normal difficulty setting. At some point during this coverage however, I do plan on actually beating it on Normal, since I actually did a little better on the start of my second ever playthrough.

The story of Devil May Cry focuses on the demon hunting half-demon Dante, son of the legendary dark knight Sparda, who runs a business called Devil May Cry in modern America. One night he gets approached by a woman calling herself Trish, who requests his presence on Mallet Island for business regarding the demon king Mundus. As Mundus had battled his father long ago, Dante jumps at the chance to be able to kill him, traveling to the island to begin his quest. Not much happens to completely flesh this out, but enough happens to serve a complete story without the plethora of plot twists that other survival horror games had at the time. I liked the complete badassery of Dante, who is the kind of man who wouldn't back down from a fight or resist the opportunity to kick demon ass, and yet I also appreciated his more compassionate side, seen when he shows a little concern for one of his enemies as well as during an event near the end of the game. Trish and Mundus are never really fleshed out beyond the role they play in the game, but the former's character growth that occurs gave me enough of a reason to like the character.

Dante's combat prowess is not to be taken lightly, an aspect of his character that gets translated perfectly well to the player in both the sword and (infinite ammo) gunplay. The weapons available are all fun to use, as is knowing which ones are best suited to the given scenario, and the items are all very useful should you need to use them. While there is a learning curve at first for the controls, given how unconventional they are for a PS2 game, the setup is reliable anyway and the fact that actions are assigned to a single button makes the feeling of power even easier to immerse in. What makes the experience even better is the Devil Trigger mechanic, where Dante can become a thunder or fire demon with the push of a button once a gauge has lit up at least a certain length. In this state he regenerates health over time and all of his attacks are even more powerful, plus some specific attacks related to each form depending on the skills the player purchased.

The enemy variety for this game is astounding. I loved how each one not only looked different, but required a different strategy altogether to take out. The fact that the AI is pretty smart helped the experience and made fighting more of a thrill. I could say the same about the bosses, who all require a completely different plan of attack each time if you want to efficiently take them out.

I am also impressed by the replay value of this game. Not only are there plenty of hidden secrets, mainly finding items and orbs or orb fragments scattered around the levels, but also secret missions that I had no idea existed until the final tally was added. The fact that the player is ranked after each level creates the desire to go back and do the level again in hopes of getting a better score, something I can applaud it for. The unlockables present also serve as a nice motivational tool to keep playing over and over.

On the technical side of things, I found the voice acting and sounds to be pretty well done, though one thing I enjoyed the most was the music. I liked it so much in fact that sometimes during a fight I would pause the game just to keep hearing it. The graphics are also still impressive for when it came out, with architecture that is impressive to view and enemy design that was not only a little gross but also very well detailed to help everything stand out. I also thought that while the fixed camera did give the best angle for the action on screen, it seemed odd at times when I would get to a certain spot on the map and it would become something a little less convenient for the action, though this was mostly during jumps to grab items. I also had to get used to the fact that the controls don't reorient themselves between camera shots until you stop moving for maybe a second.

Is Devil May Cry a good game? Yes. Being able to annihilate all that stand in your way, and look cool while doing it, is an experience that no one should pass up at all. If you've heard of this game at all or wanted to know where "Stylish Combat" or "Extreme Combat" came from, then pick up this game immediately. Again, this is definitely not a title to ignore and I wholly recommend it.

Now, with a great game like this, it stands to reason that the sequel, advertised in the back of the manual, would be served to fans as a good follow-up that continues moving the franchise forward in great strides, right?




Right?

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