Gamestyle Archive intro: It is clear from this preview of Capcom’s forthcoming franchise, we didn’t know what to expect from Devil May Cry. Of course nowadays such surprises are few and far between – you feel like you’ve already experienced the title before making the purchase. Writer JJ, published July 2001.
Devil May Cry
Version: PAL PS2
Accessories: Memory Card
Release: Winter 2001
Although it could be considered a meatloaf song title – certainly the way the main character dresses – Devil May Cry is the first true PS2 title from survival horror masters Capcom. What about Onimusha I hear you cry? Well its Psone roots were painfully obvious to us and everyone else we hope. A nice bit of FMV doesn’t make a true next generation title no matter what they say. Devil May Cry promises to be the real deal and Capcom hope is a much-needed breath of fresh air in a going exceptionally stale genre. In fact the Japanese giant have claimed this game is the first in a new genre, to be known as “stylish hard action” so are we talking Hard Boiled with or Exit Wounds? Then again reading press releases its also tagged “gothic horror” so, which one is it?
The plot and outlining scenario are familiar to most that have played this type of game before. Devil May Cry is a game from Shinji Mikami who created the long-winded Resident Evil series and Dino Crisis. The story begins two millenniums ago where a legendary swordsman called Sparda defended the human race against the Dark Raid lead by Mundus. Yet Sparda was himself a demon but he defeated the demon army and imprisoned its leader. The time has come for the Dark Raid lead by the evil Mundus to rise once again and seize control but the son of Sparda (Dante) is waiting for the demons with his father’s sword. This cool, dashing hero likes nothing better than creating carnage and demon slaying. As a day job he is a supernatural private investigator and seeks revenge for the death of his mother and brother. Due to the DNA of his father, Dante is part demon and has special abilities, which become activated when his health bar is full. Dante’s attacks become even more devastating and increase in range when in this state. This man may have no dress sense but with his pistols he can pack a punch. For all their success, control of the characters in Resident Evil was fairly limited. In Devil May Cry again you are offered a barrack full of weaponry but you also have the ability to learn new moves and attacks.
The emphasis is very much on gun toting action this time around and certainly has an arcade feel about it. This is very much a full on blast fest from start to finish with puzzles remaining in the background. In this game you do not need to rely on ammo conservation as it is unlimited making it a tad easy and dare we say straightforward? Press R1 to lock on the nearest enemy and fire away. Even with the increased reliance on action, Devil May Cry does not (so far) really bring anything new to the 128bit format. The gameplay is firmly entrenched in what has gone before, perhaps even more shallow, as after a few hours of blasting you soon become bored.
Puzzles are involved but items that you do need to collect still glow brightly on the pre-rendered backdrop thereby diminishing any adventure element. Yet again we have puzzles which involve statues and jewels, not very original is it? The increased power of the PS2 has allowed Capcom to put more enemies on screen and increase the frame rate. It has allowed Capcom to incorporate a jump feature into the game thereby providing you with the opportunity to jump several feet. It does not end there however, when Dante is in his demon state, wings will allow you to climb to even greater heights.
The most disappointing element of Devil May Cry is that once again it features static, featureless backgrounds but in real time. The backdrops are stunning, from everything we’ve seen but they’re just that, backdrops. Gamestyle begin to wonder if this is a ploy from Capcom to speed up production time and thereby entice the public enough to follow with a sequel 6-12 months later i.e. Onimusha. Capcom are fast becoming the Stock, Aitken and Waterman of the gaming world. The backdrops in places are fantastic and ooze gothic and nightmare qualities but using this method brings once again the same familiar problems. After the success of Resident Evil Code Veronica, why did they not stick with this feature? The ability to jump and fly often places a strain on the camera and those problems are still there!
As we’d expect the presentation is flawless but will there be enough underneath to justify shelling out for another game in Resident Evil clothing? We’ll have to wait till the end of the year to find out but we do hope that Capcom can include some original features and add to what little depth currently exists.