Devil May Cry HD Collection: review

A lot has happened since 2001. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has made people consciously aware of how uncomfortable cinema seats are to sleep in, iPods have enslaved pockets everywhere and Capcom has delivered four Devil May Cry games. That’s right, Devil May Cry is eleven years old. The first three titles were released for PS2 in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Capcom has now rereleased them on one disc in HD flavour, but do they still hold the tactical hack ‘n’ slash crowns they earned in their heyday?

Dante, the human/demon hybrid child of legendary super demon Sparda, comfortably sits at the centre of each game. He is a cocky, arrogant adrenaline junky whose smart quips and pursuit of all things in an unnecessarily cool way make him an insane, cheeky and likeable character. He can also take on a devil form that drastically improves his abilities. There’s no modesty about him, he’s badass and knows it. Whilst the story varies by game, it usually involves Dante agreeing to help someone before he gets impaled by a series of nasty things, only for him to rip everything evil to bits. The plotlines are mostly loose frameworks to drape the action over, but put the demonic enemies and physics defying weapons in context.

We thought spiders were bad before, but this one's made of rock and lava.

Each game sees Dante start off with a massive sword and dual pistols that spray ammunition forever without reloading. Other weapons do become available later on, but these are his trademark and arguably most fun tools in the arsenal. Everything is quite formulaic; walk into a room which fills with enemies, and then forcefully dismantle them. Every time you attack an enemy your combo is rated. Vary your attacks between different sword swipes and the occasional seasoning of bullets to drive the score higher. At the end of each mission your overall stylishness is rated along with collectibles, items used and time taken to get a mission style grade between D (Jeremy Clarkson grade) and S (*insert stylish person’s name* grade).

Devil May Cry is the first game in the series and so has aged the most graphically. Some of the scaled up textures look distractingly old, but character models and certain environmental aspects have been touched up beautifully. Unfortunately, you need to look at then and now screenshots to fully appreciate it, but the difference is a huge leap. Gameplay wise it feels fluent and like it’s from something produced today, which is a real testament to how responsive the original game was. Rapidly switching between guns and melee is easy and helps the combos flow as well as making you look cool as a lunar cucumber. The main issue that plagues the game is the static camera that can make controls an issue when they reverse as the perspective shifts. This makes the few necessary jumping sections leaps of faith, but it’s relatively efficient at keeping the action on-screen. It’s also hard as diamond tipped nails, but in a fun and challenging way with a manageable easy mode that becomes available if you struggle.

"Hmmmmmm, maybe I'll get the next tram."

Devil May Cry 2 goes a bit Warrior Within (or did Warrior Within go a bit DMC2?) and portrays Dante as darker, grittier and more mature, mostly stripping him of the cheeky git heroisms that made him stand out as a character in the original. The new moody persona just isn’t quite as fun, even though more overly stylish moves are introduced, such as the vertical wall run. Something DMC2 improves on in some respects is the camera, which is now a chase cam that makes Dante a lot easier to control. The static camera still rears its head occasionally and causes the odd perspective shift navigation issue, but it’s an improvement. However, enemies have a habit of appearing off-screen which makes things frustrating.

Talking of difficulty, DMC2 is wildly toned down from the original game. This makes it easier for newbies and those who had to play DMC on easy mode, but it also removes the challenge the first game provided die-hard difficulty fans. The game also introduces Lucia, a new playable character with her own campaign who is nowhere near as interesting as Dante. Her story runs parallel to Dante’s but reuses most environments, enemies and boss fights. It mixes up a second playthrough slightly, but not quite enough to make it feel like a unique experience.

Learning from its predecessor, Devil May Cry 3 went into prequel mode and brought back the unnecessary over-the-top crazy. Dante uses a demon as a surfboard, kills a room of nasties with a set of pool balls and even pauses mid-fight to setup the jukebox – and this is just the opening cinematic. DMC3 takes everything good from the original and makes it better. Bigger attitude, more stylish kills and even a system that lets you choose a particular play style to focus on and improve, such as swordsman or gunslinger.

Magical fire and ice swords combine their properties to make pain.

The third game is also the most cinematic, with cutscenes that surround every mission, as opposed to the odd few that occasionally appear throughout previous titles. The story focus makes the plot more central and helps immerse you a lot more. Thankfully, this doesn’t detract from the slash and shoot action which is a lot harder again. Being the special edition of DMC3, it has actually had the difficulty toned down slightly from the original release, but still ends up being harder than what most games consider ‘hard mode’.

DMC3 is the best and most refined game of the pack, but you need to play its predecessors first to gain true appreciation of it. The series is great and still relatively unrivalled by other hack ‘n’ slashers. Some of the visuals look slightly aged, but by the time you reach DMC3 it won’t bother you. The camera is an issue that improves with each game, but still remains problematic throughout. However, if you can bear with it and fancy testing your devilish grit on some truly classic games, this HD collection does them justice.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

Leave a Reply