I talk a bit in my reviews about how games like Ico are spiritual successors to other games. Devil May Cry is another spiritual successor in the gameplay department. You might think it is the successor to such Capcom games as Resident Evil and Onimusha. In a sense it is since it is built upon the core of the RE series (not to mention it originally started as RE4), but I think it shares more in common with the action games of old like Contra and Castlevania, both by Konami. This is a fun game, there is no doubt about it. I had more fun playing this game than the other two Capcom games I mentioned. This game just draws you in a bit more although it shares the short length of the other two.
Devil May Cry is about Dante, a half-human/half-demon private investigator. He runs a PI business appropriately called Devil May Cry. He deals in supernatural investigation and this specific night brings a big case to him. A woman crashes into his business and tells him she’s got a job for him. Her name is Trish and she wants to make sure that he’s the Dante she’s heard about, so she takes his sword and puts it straight through his body. Amazingly, Dante gets up and takes the sword right out. Yep, he’s the Devil Hunter all right and Dante takes the job because Trish looks a lot like his deceased mother. Dante goes with Trish to a huge castle. Here’s where all the action starts and the story begins.
Based a lot on the feel of Japanese anime and American action films, Devil May Cry brings a pretty good graphical package to the table. Dante wears a long red coat and looks truly bad ass. The enemies look cool as well, all the way from the small spiders to the large bosses. The lighting effects are pretty good as well. When you shoot you see a flash in front of Dante and when you fire up the devil power a blue aura goes around Dante. From there he can turn into his devil form and do huge damage. All the special moves you can purchase are animated well and the new weapons you get changes the look of Dante and his aura accordingly. The director of Devil May Cry, Shinji Mikami, said that anime was part of the inspiration for this game and it is obvious in the boss battles between Dante and a giant spider and Dante and a puddle of ooze that solidifies for example.
The game runs at a smooth 60 fps and I experienced no slowdown while playing the game. The textures, as usual, were not the greatest on the PS2, but they did a good job for being inside a castle. The graphics in the rooms themselves are typical of a gothic-style castle I would say. There are huge staircases, statues and mystical spheres…oh wait, that last thing is not in a typical gothic-style castle. The game is well polished and I never saw a graphic I didn’t like in the whole game.
The sound in the game is also well done. Most of the lines in the game are spoken and you even have subtitles for the difficult to hear bosses like the spider. More subtitles could have been used in my opinion as the game can get quite loud. This game also could have used a Japanese voice track like in Onimusha, but I believe the game was originally voiced in English.
The music is very cool. There is a lot of organ music playing and when the action heats up there is a bit of techno/hard rock music played. It just gets your adrenaline pumping. The sound effects are cool as well. Every weapon you have makes a different sound and some of the bosses just have a great howl as they die. It is just nasty, but it adds to the excitement. Capcom has come a long way in sound…no longer have to hear lame footsteps as you go up stairs.
Devil May Cry is easy to pick up and play. The directions give you enough information to go in and fight the creatures. The important thing to remember in this game is that the R1 key locks on the nearest opponent. It is very useful if you are trying to hone in on one specific enemy and not the whole lot of them. Dante comes to the game with a sword called Woozy and his dual handguns Ebony and Ivory. As he goes through the levels he gets another sword, Alastor, that gives him access to his devil powers. He also picks up other guns and another hand-to-hand weapon of fire spouting gloves called Ifrit. The guns have unlimited ammo, that is the homage to Contra. They could have put the tedious ammo looking of the RE series, but they did not and I am glad they went this way. Unlimited ammo means you do not have to worry about being out of ammo during a big boss battle and this helps a lot because a lot of the bosses are very difficult and you have to do multiple things with the guns and swords against them.
This game is action orientated and feels a lot like a high-budget John Woo movie. The game often does not give you a chance to catch your breath and is a lot of fun to play. While fighting the end boss the game totally changes direction in the game engine department, turning it into a shooting hybrid of some sort. It parallels Dead or Alive 3 for X-Box in this way and is just as jolting as DOA3’s point of view during the final boss segment. There is also a relatively short underwater mission that you go into first-person view that is not as far of a stretch as the end.
Another problem with the game is that like other PS2 games it is relatively short. It shares the Resident Evil/Onimusha curse in this respect. You can beat it in under 15 hours if you are good and maybe a bit longer if you are not. Those 15 hours will be some of the most exciting ones you will have in a game though. Many people rented this game, but they miss out on the extra modes presented at the end of the game.
You fight some bosses multiple times and they become more difficult each time. Each boss has a weakness. You should keep your devil power high during each of the 20+ missions so you can do massive damage to them. The spider boss Phantom (the first boss you face) is very hard and it can get very frustrating to defeat him. Once you get past him you will like the game more. I found that the other bosses (other than facing Phantom again) were not as hard as the initial one was.