After the poor showing of Devil May Cry 2 I was very hesitant about getting near Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (DMC3 for short) even though I knew that the crew from the original game were back for the most part. I ended up renting DMC3 simply because I was afraid the game could be the crapfest with no cohesive story that DMC2 was. I’m happy to say I was very wrong, but Capcom has upped the difficulty, at least early on in the game, beyond even the original.

Many people will probably cheat in order to get beyond the first few levels. They are very hard to do without any sort of Vital Stars, but if you get the levels down you can get through them without the use of Vital Stars. Much like the original game, if you buy a Vital Star at the before the level the price goes up as you buy more. Soon enough they are out of your price range unless you repeat levels, which is another tactic to get Dante up to a good power level with good sword attacks before taking on the rest of the 20 missions and 12 secret missions.

To say Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening is a pleasant surprise is an understatement, but I also think many people will not give this game the time of day when they figure out the early levels can be hard and they end up resorting to cheat codes or go through the levels several times in order to increase the number of red orbs so you can buy new things.

This is easily the best Devil May Cry game in terms of graphics. Even in the first cutscene before you enter Mission 1 you see that the animators of the game had a good time creating it. As the enemies are attacking Dante you can see smiles and fear on their faces as they overpower Dante and then he overpowers them. That’s just the beginning of this graphical tour de force. It may not be up to the levels of Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube, but it certainly holds its own and it is a faster moving game than RE4 is.

All the characters, both good and bad, are animated excellently. The game moves at a very steady rate that slows down very rarely. The bosses (each level basically has one) are huge in many cases and they are very well animated as well. The amount of graphical things going on in DMC3 easily outdoes DMC and DMC2 combined. The action is fast and furious and the animation is just spot on for this over the top game.

Yes, the heavy metal-like tunes are back, but they are far more integrated than they have been in the past. The music turns quiet and loud at the correct times and is far more enjoyable than Prince of Persia: Warrior Within for example. The overall sounds in the game are also excellent. The clanging of swords and the devil arms, along with the sounds of Ebony and Ivory (Dante’s guns) are just spectacular. Even better, this game supports both Dolby Pro Logic II and Dolby Digital Pro Logic II and it creates quite an enjoyable sound field.

Of special note in this section are the voiceovers. Gone are the lame voiceovers of the last two games and in their place are spot on ones for Devil May Cry 3. Dante sounds like a true smartass and the villains in the game sound excellent as well. Capcom certainly went that extra mile for this game it seems.

The Control is nice and easy, but it can be difficult to get a handle on. The left analog stick moves Dante around, the triangle button is the basic sword/devil arm attack, square is the gun button to fire your guns (which have unlimited ammo), circle is your Style Specialty button and the X button allows Dante to jump, double jump or do a roll with the R1 button. The R1 button allows you to lock onto an enemy, L1 allows you to fire up the Devil Trigger (once you get the ability that is), the L2 button allows you to fast switch your guns in the middle of a combo and the R2 button allows you to fast switch between your swords.

Overall the control is very good, but it isn’t quite as tight as it probably could have been. You’ll find out early on that you need to get good at dodging attacks by the enemy. If you don’t you’ll find the game to be quite tough.

As I talked about a ways up, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening is made up of 20 missions and 12 secret missions that are hidden throughout the levels. One of the coolest things about this game is that there is a cutscene before every mission and somewhere within the cutscene there is an item or items that will create the number of the mission you are on (like in mission 3 the cutscene before has enemies burning and they fall down into the shape of the number 3). There are also 5 difficulty levels, some of which will be unlocked during the game and some of which will unlock after you beat the game. The game starts you off in the Normal difficulty mode which is supposedly harder than the Normal mode in Japan.

The events of Devil May Cry 3 happen before the original game. Dante is a bit younger and employs fewer clothes on his body than older Dante. He basically has a brown strap that goes across his chest instead of a full-on shirt underneath the red jacket. During the game you can unlock other clothes that make Dante look cooler than he is at the beginning though, so you won’t be stuck solely in the original outfit.

It seems Dante has a brother named Virgil, so Sparda has sired more than just Dante. Dante has just opened his business and a tower literally grows from the ground with Virgil at the top. It seems Dante and Virgil like sparring and this is the latest in the series, but it is also the most serious. The cutscenes build up and tells an excellent story. No longer are you wonder what the heck is going on, there is actually a cohesive story in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening.

The gameplay in DMC3 is most like the gameplay in the original game, but with a few tweaks here and there. The camera issues that have plagued the series have been eliminated for the most part, but there are still times where you won’t know where enemies are coming from, but you’ll be so busy beating other enemies you won’t really care until you see a projectile come into view and you have to dodge it.

When you start the game you are able to give Dante the abilities from one of 4 styles: Trickster (allows you to dodge more easily), Swordmaster (better with sword weapons), Gunslinger (better with guns) and Royal Guard (better at defending). Later on during the game he will unlock two other styles that he can use. Each style is centered around the circle button (the style ability button). Trickster is the easiest one to use to begin with because it has an invincible dash ability by simply moving the analog stick in a way and hitting circle. Swordmaster allows more sword moves with the circle button, Gunslinger allows you to have secondary firing capabilities with each gun with the circle button and Royal Guard allows you to defend using the circle button (making counterattacks possible, but it is the hardest style to get used to). You can switch up the styles, but they also gain in levels as you go through the game, so you may want to hang on one for the majority of the game and replay the game at an easier or harder level and try another style.

Much like the original game you can also upgrade the levels for all your weapons and devil arms. Of course there is a price attached to them, so be ready to unload some red orbs in order to upgrade your swords and guns.

This game is extremely difficult in the early goings only because you don’t really have any weapons that help you dodge or block enemies attacking you. This means until you get the level down you may have to buy Vital Stars (which go up in price each time you buy them) or you may have to repeat the early levels over again just to add to your red orb stash in order to buy the moves and upgrades. The first major boss is a tad bit difficult, but I would say he is not as hard as the first spider encounter in the original game. Of course, this boss is just the beginning of some awesome boss set pieces that you will encounter throughout the game. The bosses can be awfully big and awfully tough, but it pays out very well in the end such as giving you powerful devil arms or a ton of red orbs in order to continue upgrading yourself. I would recommend going to the Easy mode once it is available simply because the Normal mode is very hard and the Easy mode will allow you to understand the game and reach those upper levels of difficulty because you’ll have a powered Dante to at least start off with.

Overall the game will take you quite a while to beat depending on many factors. Frustration with the levels may make you leave the game or you may choose to use cheat codes or repeat levels in order to get more red orbs. The length is really dependant on how much time you want to put into it.

There is a lot to unlock in this game, including the ever popular Dante Must Die mode and an even more difficult mode once you beat Dante Must Die where everyone has just 1 hit before they die, both Dante and the enemies. This game also has galleries to unlock and different outfits that can give Dante more powers, including one that gives him unlimited Devil Trigger power.