After the first Devil May Cry had stunned me and knocked me for six, I could not believe how well it had aged. Like a fine wine it had matured with time and had a distinct, rich flavour. It bruised me with its difficulty and lavished my eyes with its epic charm, right from start to finish.
The second instalment did not have the same effect. If anything it only served to highlight why sometimes a great original, does not mean a great sequel. My thoughts drifted to the depths; my only hope was that the third instalment had turned this whole thing around. Devil May Cry 3 was the road that lay ahead.
Devil May Cry 3
As I boot up the game and the opening sequence starts, it is immediately apparent; this game is making up for lost time. The intro sequence is sleek, stylish and just as ridiculous as it should be.
When the title screen slams onto your TV you just feel it in your bones; this is going to be a good one.
Even Dante is fresh as a daisy and fully revamped; this being a prequel, the demon slayer here is even more of a cocky trickster than we saw in the first game. The B-Movie vibes of the first game have been turned all the way up to eleven.
The clunky feel of the second is gone now and the set pieces are nothing short of heart pounding. Enemies will pour on you from every angle and damage will rain from the heavens like a monsoon of fire. It is then, perfectly apt that Dante is more than equipped to deal with this. Even more so than the first game, the combat here is as smooth as your ability will allow and the swords are only as sharp as your reflex. There are four different styles of combat all at your disposal and each one brings something new to the table to adapt to your style.
But then again, it has to be like this, simply because of one thing. If DMC2 was as easy as pie then DMC3 has put the pie into the furness and baked it to a crisp. Devil May Cry 3, ladies and gentlemen, is a hard game; and I’m not talking about your run of the mill ‘ooh that was tricky’ kind of thing. No, I am talking about good old fashioned, soul destroying, punishment and it pushes you as far as you can go.
I thought I would have to leave the game half way and walk away, broken, like a man past his prime. But I didn’t, I pushed harder than most games would ever ask of me; I came away from boss fights with a sore thumb, sweaty palms and a massive, ear to ear grin.
The difficulty here does not strike the same blissful balance of the first game but completely supersedes it and offers something new. It doesn’t ask you to grit your teeth and struggle all the way, it doesn’t need to; in fact, it is even more generous with lives and checkpoints than the first. This is not a swift, slamming to the floor, leaving you to bleed out; this is beating you to your knees and then offering you a hand to get back up. This, is one of the finest gaming experiences there is to be had.
Even the visuals are a class apart; the art direction is simply a feast for the eyes and the luxurious scenery and gothic spirals of stone are now easily navigated, thanks to superb ‘director’s choice’ camera angles and a newly manoeuvrable camera.
Where as the first game reached for the stars, and the second game sat in the shadows, DMC3 glitters in its own constellation.
Where could we go from here? The fourth leg of my journey loomed on the horizon, and I could not wait to see how much more hair I was going to lose.
Devil May Cry 4.
With this one I am going to tackle things a bit differently; I was going to go into the controls, the graphics, how it plays and all those regular things. To be frank, I don’t feel there is much point.
DMC4 is basically cut from very similar cloth to the third; the controls have remained constant and the style of the whole thing is polished to a fine shine. There is a difference though; where as the third instalment was a full, rich glass of fine vintage wine, this one, is a glass which has only been half filled. This glass, it would seem, was topped up the rest of the way with clear, cool water; not enough to wash away the taste but just enough to dilute the flavour.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a good game, very good in truth but it just doesn’t shine bright enough. The gameplay is smooth and the combat is as tight as any action game could want to be. The difficulty here is also well measured; though not as hard as either the first or the third; if you crank it up a couple of notches you will still feel Death’s hand brush your shoulder more than once.
The thing I find unusual here is that you don’t get to play as Dante until half way through the story. My mind just boggles at that; you have a character that the fans love, and an icon that the gaming public could recognise in a hurricane and you choose to force me to play as Nero. A young chap with white hair, a big sword and a fancy demon arm; he is to Dante what Coke Zero is to Coca Cola.
The main problem, though, is that besides him there isn’t much else to say; it is a good action game that both fans and newcomers would enjoy. It is a game struggling to crawl out of the shadow of its behemoth of an older brother and to be honest I get the impression that even Capcom didn’t think they could better themselves. They drove this game straight down the middle of the road, far too scared to venture off route in case a pothole derailed the whole thing.
The question is then; Do I think the series needed to be rebooted?
In short; no, I don’t think the series needed to hit the reset button. I also don’t think Capcom should have handed one of its golden boys over so easily. BUT, I am not going to comment here on the rebooted Dante’s new haircut. I am also not going to comment on the hideous backlash that the gaming press has been feeding for the past few months. What I will say is this:
No matter what we see of the new Dante, nothing can taint what we already have; sit yourself down, roll back the years and re-live some of the greatest moments that gaming has ever given us. A shiny new title in a trendy new font can’t ruin the memories that you already have, so why let it ruin the ones you have yet to come.