Sequels are always a tricky thing. Especially if the previous game was really good. It seems like developers can’t win; if they make the sequel exactly like the first, fans complain that they simply rehashed the first game. But if they try something different, fans complain that the game’s too different & strayed too far from the original, successful formula. Take Dragon Age II, for example. I think people spent too much time comparing it to the first game to appreciate what it was on it’s own. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked some of the changes & thought it was an okay game by itself. So how does Devil May Cry 2 HD fare?
Devil May Cry 2 takes place at an undefined time in the series. I think it’s supposed to be after Devil May Cry but there’s nothing in the game that suggests it happened before or after. Regardless, the game has Dante returning to his demon-hunting adventures as he helps stop a businessman named Arius from raising a demon to conquer the world. He gets help from a woman named Lucia & her mother Matier, who once fought with Dante’s father. The game actually consists of two stories: one involving Dante trying to reach Arius & another playing as Lucia as she tries to gather the “Arcanas,” items Arius needs to resurrect the demon.
In addition to giving us a new character to play as, there are several changes to the gameplay from the first game. You still collect various colored orbs to help you along the way, but instead of using the red orbs to buy new moves you use them to upgrade the different weapons you’ll collect for each character. Another change is that instead of secret missions, you can find secret rooms. These rooms consist of two waves of increasingly difficulty baddies which rewards you with blue orb fragments to increase your health.
Story: As with the first game, DMC2’s plot is threadbare at best. The basic plot is set up in the first level of the game, & there’s little in the way of development. Find bad guy, beat him up, have final boss fight, done. From the first bit of exposition, the rest of the game is just a journey to the next boss fight. I was disappointed that Dante’s personality isn’t as pronounced as it was the first time around. Even though DMC wouldn’t win an Oscar for writing, at least Dante exchanged quips with some of the bosses that showed us his personality & gave the game some character. This is mostly absent in DMC2. The other characters are bland. Lucia has almost no personality, & neither does the main baddie Arius. Speaking of Lucia, her story segment features the most ridiculous way to reveal a plot element. Basically, half way through her story they reveal a connection between her & Arius with the subtlety of a shotgun blast to the face. There was no hinting that Lucia had some mysterious past or that she (or we) should even care. It’s a lot like how in the previous game the developers were like, “Oh, just so you know, that guy you just killed was Dante’s brother.” Score: 2
Gameplay: In some ways I liked the combat better than in DMC. Dante feels more fluid this time around. He can dodge a bit easier & I liked the wall run move even if I never found a reason to use it. I also liked the variety of weapons you can collect & that you can level them up. But at the same time I didn’t do as well as I did with the combat in the first game. There isn’t a lot of variety in the moves, & most of the combos sent enemies flying back so I could never rack up any significant style points. I also couldn’t find a way to easily switch my lock-on targets. Of course this is probably not entirely the game’s fault & may be partly due to my competence with the combat. Lucia has a few different moves, but there wasn’t really anything I couldn’t handle with either the standard combo or jumping & shooting. Speaking of Lucia, I think it would’ve been better if she had a completely different play-style than Dante. Sure, her moves look different but they’re the same as Dante’s. The boss fights were pretty good, though. Each required its own unique strategy to deal with them & I found them to be a lot of fun. Also, I liked that Dante & Lucia do face a few different bosses & that the final boss fights are completely different. The final-final bosses were the best, in my opinion. I also liked that you collect pieces of an amulet that give you a variety of benefits you can switch out, such as flying or adding fire damage to your Devil Trigger attacks. DMC2 has some of the same problems as the previous game, such as static camera angles that making the platforming difficult. It also has some of the fastest respawning enemies I’ve ever seen. Seriously, at one stage with Lucia I missed the platform I was jumping up to & the enemies respawned as soon as I landed. Sure, you can ignore some of the enemies, but the camera likes to stay locked on them making navigation difficult. You still can’t reassign the controls. And why does the map no longer show where I’m at on it? So overall, the gameplay’s not bad. There’s some nice bits, but the frustrations drag it down some. Score: 3
Visuals & Audio: Even though it’s an HD re-release, the graphics aren’t spectacular. I think the problem is that the environments are all the same shade. Dreary brown streets, catacombs & tunnels. Some levels look pretty cool, like fighting a possessed helicopter on top of a tower or the final levels where everything’s twisted around & has funky camera angles. The game really didn’t take advantage of having two storylines to make more levels. With maybe two exceptions, Dante & Lucia’s levels are the same, just in a different order. The character models look good, as do the enemies. I like the enemy variety, & the bosses are all unique, not just to what’s in the game but from other games as well. You’ve got demon gorillas, some guy that looks like two iron maidens fused together, a demon fused with a building & three stone faces that merge together. Strangely, the in-game cutscenes look better than the fully cinematic ones. I really like the music in the game as well. It’s very atmospheric. The only complaint I have for the music is that the battle music sounds the same, even though I think they are different tracks. The voice acting is mostly pretty good, but I couldn’t get used to Lucia’s accent. I can’t say what it was about it, but it just sounds off. Score: 4
Replayability: Not counting that you’ll probably play through the game as each character once, I’d say the replayability is mixed. Once you beat the game you unlock harder difficulties & can continue building up your character to face these challenges. But nothing actually changes. I do know if you beat the game with Dante on Hard you unlock the ability to play the game as Trish, which is kind of nice, but you still play through as Dante or Lucia, you just have Trish during the actual game. You can also unlock the Bloody Palace, which is essential a secret mission room with 9999 levels to fight through. So the game does give a lot of incentive for people who want to play several times. Score: 4
Overall Score: 3
Final Word: Devil May Cry 2 HD is a decent game that, unfortunately, suffers from a bad storyline & some control issues. While I don’t think it lives up to its predecessor, fans of action games should enjoy it.
Title: Devil May Cry 2 HD Console: 360 & PS3 Rating: M Developers: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom Release Date: March 29, 2012