Probably the only benefit to being sick & losing my voice is that it allowed me to call in sick for a few days & finally stop procrastinating on finishing Devil May Cry HD. Truthfully, I’m really loving all of this HD re-releases, even if they’re not considered that great by the fans of the originals. It gives me a chance to play games that I missed the first time around. The Devil May Cry series has been one such series. And unlike the Silent Hill HD Collection, aside from some broad facts, I have no idea what to expect with these games. So what did I think of the first entry?
Ignoring the 4th & the Reboot, the main character in the Devil May Cry series is Dante, the half-devil offspring of a great demonic knight who turned against his own kind to help humanity. Having inherited his father’s supernatural abilities, Dante works as a sort of demon-hunter-for-hire in the hopes that one day he’ll find the devil who killed his mother. The game starts when the answer literally breaks down his door as a woman who looks exactly like Dante’s deceased mother hires him to stop the resurrection of Mundus, ruler of the Underworld, ancient foe of Sparda & murderer of Dante’s family. Dante travels to an island with Trish to stop the resurrection, battling various demons along the way.
Devil May Cry is an action game heavy on combat, but it’s not exactly a hack-&-slash. Style counts in combat, with the game ranking your ability to string combos & mix things up as you dispatch enemies. Dante collects several melee & ranged weapons along the way. As you defeat enemies, you collect red orbs which are a sort of currency that you can use to purchase or upgrade new moves. Exploration is a large part of the game as well. The castle you spend the entire game in is huge, but some areas are locked until you find mystical items to unlock them, so the straightforward path may not always be possible. The game also includes some platforming. There are also secret missions you can find which grant you health upgrades.
Story: Personally, I found the story rather… threadbare. Pretty much all of the plot development is done in the very first cutscene before you have any control of Dante. It’s sort of like: “Here’s the character. Here’s why he’s cool. Here’s why he does it. This is the bad guy & why you should care. Now find him.” Most of the game is just trying to figure out how to get to Mundus. The game’s also a bit strange in the way it tries to show the relationships between the characters. The first oddity is the whole Nelo Angelo/Vergil thing. While I can’t really fault the game for it because I know it gets majorly expanded on in the 3rd game, the fact that it ends up being Dante’s brother just seems like a footnote. It’s given & then forgotten. Honestly, I didn’t even realize Nelo Angelo was Vergil until Mundus said so, & then I thought, “Oh, that’s why that was important.” Not a good reaction. I also thought it was funny that they tried to play Trish’s betrayal off as a big thing when she really wasn’t that involved in the game. After taking Dante to the island, she just leaves him behind & we only get a few glimpses of her watching Dante most of the rest of the game. Those issues aside, I do think the game did a good job of characterizing their personalities without a lot of dialogue. Just from what they do we can learn a lot about them. With just a few lines of dialogue in the opening, Dante’s personality is pretty solidified. And the same goe for the others. So overall, average story but memorable characters. Score: 4
Gameplay: I have mixed feelings about the mechanics of Devil May Cry. First of all, the combat is pretty good. While not super fast & fluid by today’s standards, there’s a nice variety to it & I liked that you can easily switch between melee & guns. Enemies require different strategies, so you have to have a bit more skill than just randomly hitting buttons. I also liked that the skills you can buy never really lose their usefulness. Even the earliest techniques you can buy can be useful up until the very end. That being said, the game’s reputation for being hard is well-earned. I got through okay, but some enemies made me want to scream. Stupid Shadows… Seriously, I had more trouble with those then the final boss. Anyway, I also enjoyed the exploration aspect of the game to some extent. Finding secrets & hidden treasures was fun. Speaking of secrets, I also thought it was nice that the secret missions had a lot of variety to them & weren’t just “kill everything” objectives. But with those positives, there’s also some things that didn’t work. Foremost, the fixed camera angles. I really wished they’d fixed this for the re-release. I know it was the thing to do back then, but it just doesn’t work well with an action-heavy game like this. It makes the platforming sections a major pain. If I can’t move the camera I can’t judge the jump. I also didn’t like how enemies respawn when you leave & re-enter a room. Given how big a piece exploration plays, it’s not uncommon to get lost or have to backtrack, so fighting the same waves of enemies get annoying when you just want to progress. Yeah, you can just ignore them most of the time, but it’s annoying to lose health on a fight you’d rather avoid. It would’ve been better if enemies only respawned between missions or if only set rooms had infinitely spawning enemies for players who want to grind. And developers, please, for the love of all that is holy, stop putting the lock-on as the right shoulder button! Do you know how awkward that is? I can’t hold that down & have fast thumb reflexes. Put it on the left side, or at the very least the right trigger. Score: 3
Visuals & Audio: Despite the dated models, the game looks pretty good. The environments are suitably dark & gothic. I particularly liked the final area that’s all fleshy. The moving corridors resembling the pumping of a heart… it looked really cool. There’s a decent variety of enemies. The in-game cutscenes are also pretty impressive. Obviously the models aren’t as detailed as current-gen stuff, but the animations are very fluid. Strangely, they look better than the pre-rendered cutscenes. These have a sort of roughness & blurring when the camera moves. Fortunately, there cutscenes are rare, so it’s not a big issue. As for the sound, I enjoyed the music. It has a techno-rock vibe to it that I really like. The ambient music for the stages fits well. The only complaint I have for the music is that the combat music is the same track, which gets old after a while. The voice acting is decent as well. I did have to turn the subtitles on, however (something I never do) because the devils’ voices were too rumbly to understand. Score: 4
Replayability: Decent. Not only are there harder difficulties you can unlock, but after you beat the game you can replay it with all of your new toys & moves. So fights or missions that may have been too hard for you will be more manageable the second time around. That being said, there are no new modes & the story doesn’t change the more you play it. Score: 3
Overall Score: 4
Final Word: While not perfect & a bit unforgiving at times, most action fans should enjoy Devil May Cry HD. If you missed it the first time around, I definitely recommend checking it out now.
Title: Devil May Cry HD Console: 360 & PS3 Rating: M Developers: Capcom (Team Little Devils) Publisher: Capcom Release Date: March 29, 2012