Gamestyle Archive Intro: we’re back in 2005 with Gareth and an attempt by Capcom to get Dante and the Devil May Cry franchise back on track. The developer was always a favourite at Gamestyle Towers whether it was the classic Sega Saturn arcade perfect releases or more lavish affairs such as this.
After the disappointment of the second game in the series, the Devil May Cry franchise has slipped somewhat from the forefront of public adulation. With Capcom now aiming at the more hardcore demographic of the gaming sector, Devil May Cry 3 arrives with a somewhat different style to its predecessor – and this, Gamestyle believes, is a good thing.
The story takes place before the first game, and showcases the battle between a trigger-happy young Dante and his more focused, swordsman-like brother Vergil. Along the way you will encounter a hotchpotch of strange characters – from a demonic jester to a young demon hunter looking for revenge. The plot is ridiculous, but in the best possible way. Devil May Cry 3 marks a return to the more confined settings of the original game; this allows combat to be faster and more disciplined. The move away from wide-open environments means you cannot just wander around shooting at things off-screen – this makes for some of the most intense action-oriented stages currently available on consoles.
Trying to describe the in-game combat is problematic: words simply can’t keep up with the frenetic and kinetic action. And with the action unrelenting from the start, you’ll need a character who is up for it – fortunately, Dante is a joy to control. The speed at which our hero can be manoeuvred is breathtaking; in other games such as Ninja Gaiden or Castlevania, players need to restrain their movement as if keeping pace with themselves. Since Dante can be lightning-quick, you can rest assured that as soon as you press the button he will carry out your command – even if he’s in the midst of doing something else. This allows for a ludicrous degree of freedom when launching attacks against ever-increasing hordes of enemies. Along with the majestic control scheme, Dante is highly-customisable and caters to each player’s whim – initially, there are four combat styles available which focus on guns, swords, movement and blocking. Each can be levelled-up during play, with new moves unlockable as you go. There’s also a wide range or firearms and close-combat weapons (although only four can be equipped and cycled through during a level): this allows for huge combo-chains, as you can strike with your sword, then mid-combo switch to another close-combat weapon, before switching to a firearm and so on.
It truly is sublime how everything fits together so effortlessly, with nary a break in the action. In fact, there’s nothing the player can physically do to stem the tide of Dante’s destruction as he cuts through enemies (well, apart from not busting out moves quick enough). This non-stop emphasis on action can cause problems however, because Devil May Cry 3 can sometimes be ‘painful’ to play; the continuous hammering of buttons as you jump, shoot, strike, jump, dodge, shoot, roll, jump, strike etc. means the game can quite often cause physical strain. Therefore, the title is best enjoyed in short bursts and prolonged play may very well lead to nasty injuries – in fact, Gamestyle believes that Devil May Cry 3 could actually teach combo-heavy-hitters like Tony Hawk a thing or two (but not in a ‘good’ way). Note to Capcom: PLEASE can we have an automatic fire button next time?
There are other niggling issues as well: while not overly-difficult on the normal setting, Devil May Cry 3 is certainly challenging and the fact that when you die you go back to the beginning of the level can become frustrating. Thankfully, levels can be completed in around ten to fifteen minutes, but some latitude in terms of boss battles would have been appreciated. (Making each boss battle a level unto itself would have completely removed the problem, for example, as there is nothing worse than fighting through a horde of demons only to be stomped by some huge monster at the end and having to restart.) The only other fault is that sometimes the camera can be in the wrong place due to fixed angles. As rooms tend to be small anyway, and enemies produce audible cues before they attack (not to mention you’re always moving around and directly firing at enemies), it is not normally a problem – however, if you are low on health during a boss battle, the unmanageable view can make all the difference. Adding more ‘fuel’ to Dante’s inner fire are the stunningly-choreographed cut sequences.
While the graphical grunt of the PS2 may be waning in comparison to other consoles, the action contained in some of Devil May Cry 3’s cut-scenes is nigh on breathtaking (witness: the demon hunter). Fighting your way through the challenging levels is definitely worth it when you’re rewarded with such eye-popping delights… whoever directed these sequences is a genius, it’s as simple as that. Players will probably manage to get through the game in around eight to ten hours, but there are a huge number of reasons to replay it: there are extra difficulty settings, unlockable costumes and characters, hidden weapons and many moves to be discovered. You can also replay earlier levels – thereby levelling-up your styles and gaining more orbs to buy items – so anyone who invests enough time in the game will surely get through it.
Devil May Cry 3 is a very welcome return to form for Dante; in fact the title pretty much redefines what we expect from action games on the whole. The PS2 engine may be showing its age ever so slightly, but the fluidity of the action is something Gamestyle did not expect to see until the next generation of consoles. A reason to buy into ‘this generation’ of technology? For adrenaline junkies and combo addicts, this could prove very persuasive.
Gamestyle Score: 8/10