What does it take to be considered the hardest entry in what is already known as one of the hardest games in gaming history? Well, Devil May Cry 3 HD answers that question very… efficiently. If you read my First Impressions post on the game, you’ll know that I was doing okay with the game on normal until the first boss fight where I died three times in a row, unlocking the Easy Mode which I eagerly embraced. I believe my exact words in that post were, “I play games to have fun, not to have an aneurism.” But baring the ludicrous difficulty (which I admittedly was expecting going in) how did the game fare?
DMC3 is a prequel to all of the other games in the series, discounting the reboot. It begins with Dante somewhere in his late teens (I say either eighteen or nineteen) fresh-faced & preparing to open up his demon hunting business. But before he’d even picked out the name, he receives a rude invitation from a man named Arkham who is working with his estranged twin brother, Vergil. Vergil plans to open a path between the demon & human worlds by unsealing the Temen-ni-gru. The same tower that the twins’ father, Sparda, had sealed so long ago to protect the human world. Dante, however, isn’t too concerned about Vergil’s plans so much as he is in settling an old dispute between them & sets off for the top of the tower.
If you’ve played the previous entry in the series, you should know a lot of what to expect from the gameplay. DMC has always been about over-the-top action, allowing players to switch between melee & firearms. As you slay demons you gain red orbs based on how stylishly you carried out the task, which can be used to upgrade your arsenal, purchase new skills or buy items. All familiar stuff. Even Dante’s Devil Trigger is back, although you don’t gain access to this until several levels in due to Dante’s true powers not having awakened yet. Capcom also limits your inventory to two melee & firearms each, requiring some strategic thinking between levels. But the biggest change is the addition of Styles. Dante begins with four styles he can use & gains two more during the course of the game. These styles give you special actions & can be upgraded as you use them. The starting styles are Trickster (improved dodging), Swordmaster (extra melee attacks), Gunslinger (extra firearm attacks) & Royalguard (blocking & retaliation). He learns Quicksilver (slow down time) & Doppleganger (create a double) later in the game.
Story: DMC3 is the first game in the series that I feel comfortable saying has an actual story. Sure, it basically follows the previous games with “bad guy trying to do bad things, find & stop him,” but this time around they actually seem to care about development. All of the characters have distinct personalities, motives & arcs — with the possible exception of Vergil. I’m still a little unclear as to why he’s trying to create this gateway. I get he wants his father’s power, but the reason behind it is unclear to me. Still, he has enough personality that I could make a few guesses. Thankfully, Dante’s personality is back in full force. His snarky comments in the cutscenes always made me grin. This version of Dante strikes me as laid back, wise-cracking, sometimes too arrogant but generally a good guy. I also give Capcom credit for Lady’s character. She starts as your standard tough-as-nails heroine who takes nothing from nobody, but they give her a realistic soft side. I really thought they did a good job of showing how a person would act after killing their father even when he deserved it. The relationship between the brothers is also interesting as they at one point set aside their differences for a common goal. Score: 4
Gameplay: Let’s not focus on the sometimes insane difficulty, because I think that’s sort of a given going into these games. I really enjoyed the combat in this game. It takes a bit to really master it, but it feels so good when you do. Unfortunately for me that point is usually a few levels before the very end, so I don’t get to enjoy that feeling too much. The Styles really add to the variety of combat. I tried to switch things up so I wouldn’t be too bad in one style, but most people will probably gravitate towards one style. I personally liked the Trickster style the best. The only bad thing I can say about the styles is that they overall don’t change much about the combat since the special action is relegated to a single button. But that’s not too bad a thing, as it means you don’t have to memorize a bunch of combos. You don’t get a huge assortment of weapons either, but there’s a nice variety to the weaponry that makes them all feel different. What other game lets you bash demons over the head with an electric guitar that also shoots bats? DMC3 also lets you reassign the buttons, something the previous games didn’t allow. The boss battles were fun & challenging, requiring you to learn their moves & adapt your strategy. I think my favorite boss was Geryon the Timesteed. I do, however, have two major problems with the gameplay. The first I mentioned in my First Impressions, which is that if you die & restart from a checkpoint (such as just before a boss) you don’t regain the items you used. So if, like me, you used up all of your healing items & just barely lost to the boss, you might as well restart the whole level because you won’t make it. I find this very obnoxious. If I’m restarting, why can’t I have my items back? The second problem is actually two problems in one: the platforming is a pain because you have limited camera control. Most areas you can’t move the camera, & even when you can you can’t look up. This was a major problem in a later section where I was trying to make my way to the top of a room on floating cubes but I couldn’t see where I was going. How am I supposed to plan my course when I can’t see? Aside from that, just be aware of the difficulty of the game. They give you lots of options to fit most players’ level of ability. Oh, & the game called me a “newbie” for finishing it on Easy. … Prats… Score: 4
Visual & Audio: The graphics for the most part look pretty good. The in-game cutscenes look really nice, although I couldn’t help noticing how blocky the characters’ hands were. I wish the environments had more color to them. They’re mostly just shades of brown or gray. But I guess you wouldn’t expect to find pastels in a tower of doom. That being said, the architecture in some of the levels is fantastic. The Leviathan level, where you’re literally inside a giant god-whale, was one of the trippiest things I’ve ever seen. The whole time I was thinking, “Is that thing chasing me the equivalent of the demon tapeworm?” The demon world also looked really cool. DMC3 also has a decent variety of enemy types. You’ve got your standard Reaper wannabes, but you’ve also got blood gargoyles & killer chess pieces. The game also has great music. It’s mostly rock or heavy metal (which suits me just fine) but has some orchestrial pieces as well, particuarly during dramatic cutscenes. The sudden heavy metal when I enter a room does often give away that there are enemies inside, however. The voice acting is alright as well. Nothing sounded too phoned in. Score: 5
Replayability: Fairly high. One nice feature is that once you’ve gotten to a level on a given difficulty, you can replay it whenever you want. You can always go back for more orbs to purchase things with. Some areas even require you to come back later once you’ve gotten a certain weapon because they have these sort of style statues that give you rewards to reaching a style ranking with a specific weapon which you may not have had the first time around. The game has plenty of modes to unlock, including the Bloody Palace. Also, you can play through as Vergil. But from my understanding he doesn’t have his own story you’re just playing through Dante’s story with Vergil who has some unique but limited skills. Besides that, I really do think this game is good enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. Score: 4
Overall Score: 4
Final Word: Devil May Cry 3 HD is, in my opinion, the best of the series that I’ve played. The combat is fun, fluid & involving. Only some minor control issues concerning platforming & a difficulty level that may turn less hardcore gamers off keep it from being perfect. I highly recommend it for action fans, but don’t be surprised if it kicks your butt.
Side Note: I’ll be posting my overall opinion of the HD Collection once I’ve checked some footage from the original games.
Title: Devil May Cry 3 HD Console: 360 & PS3 Rating: M Developers: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Release Date: March 29, 2012