How does a company go about taking one of the best games of 2001, Devil May Cry, and making a lackluster and disappointing sequel a scant 13 months after the release of the first game? The biggest answer to the question would be that the original developers did not even work on the sequel. Instead they went to work on other games (Resident Evil 4 or one of the other 4 upcoming Capcom games, Viewtiful Joe in particular). So, why the heck did they make a sequel without the proper team attached to it? The only reason I can think of is that they saw money in their eyes and went with it. If Devil May Cry 2 had been given the same type of love Onimusha 2 got, chances are I would not be as disappointed as I am in this game.
That is not to say that Devil May Cry 2 is a horrendous game, it just does not come close to living up to the fun the original had in it. Gone are the cool swords with personality (Alastor and Ifrit are nowhere to be found), instead they are replaced with rather bland looking swords this time around. In the first game you could only become your Devil half if you had Alastor equipped. In this game the Devil Trigger has its own meter and you can turn to Devil mode on a whim. The upgrade process with the weapons is a joke as well. Yes, you can upgrade them to make them more powerful, but nothing is truly added to them like it was in the original. The only cool upgrade section is the Amulet section where you can pick and choose which types of powers you want while in your Devil form. It seems like the new developers have just gutted the fun out of the first game and left Devil May Cry 2 with a straight action game mentality.
Yes, Dante has new moves in this game. The problem is that the new moves really bring nothing to the table. Dante can walk on walls for a short period (circle button while running by a wall), he can do a back flip off a wall (circle button while facing wall), he can do backflips in general (circle and control pad towards Dante’s back) as well. These are all neat tricks, but it really does not add anything to the game. Remember all those cool screenshots of Dante being able to shoot in two different directions? It is here, but you have no control over it. Dante will arbitrarily decide if he is going to shoot in the different directions or not depending on how close an enemy coming from behind is. Some of the moves from the first game are here and I was able to pull off some of them. Problem here is that you have no indication of the movements needed for the move like you had in the first game. Another thing left on the cutting room floor I guess.
Keeping up with the beating of a dead horse, it is time to talk about the camera. Shinji Makami has talked in some interviews about that Devil May Cry 2 has been built around fan input and that the camera is far better than it was in the original. I wonder if Makami ever saw the final Devil May Cry 2 product or not, because the camera is actually a lot worse than the original. There is the potential for many more enemies in an area at one time. As you move around an area the camera can change and put you at a distinct disadvantage in relation to where enemies are. Most of the time you can see where you have to go, but the camera makes it difficult to get to that point. A lot of the cityscape missions have similar looking buildings and sometimes I got lost trying to get to the next section. The other problem with the camera is that this game has a good deal of vertical movement in it. The camera can become quite jolting in these situations as you double jump (hit X twice) to the next ledge.
Another problem with the game, a possible direct result of fan ideas for fixes, is that this game is cakewalk easy. You will blow through both Dante and Lucia’s missions in no time flat. This game is not nearly as difficult as the first game. The most disappointing thing is that when you have boss battles (there are a lot of them), the bosses look all big and menacing, but they are like a kitten when you actually take them on. In many cases (and this is on Normal mode) you can just walk up to a boss and start slashing at him and get little to no damage from him. Where is the difficulty from the Spider and Nightmare bosses? You will not find that in this game.
Something they totally destroyed in this game was the ratings system. They have replaced the rating titles with dumb titles. They have also made it extremely difficult to even get a combination off in this game. Gone for the most part is the juggling system where you could use Ebony and Ivory along with a sword to keep juggling the enemy. Instead, Ebony and Ivory now juggle the enemy into the air, but this does not count as a combo. It is all very confusing and they really should have left well enough alone with the combos.
Then there is the story. Speaking of which, where is the story? Dante follows Lucia (who you can play as on the 2nd disc) to an island. Why the heck he does this we do not know. Here he runs into an old lady that tells him if he helps them that she will tell Dante more about his father. The “Son of Sparda” thing is beaten to death. It is too bad he does not have Sparda’s sword with him. The idea I got from the story was that a millionaire was being controlled by demons and Dante is just there to stop everything. Unlike the first game it seems like Dante knows nothing about the demons he is fighting. Remember in the first game where Dante had some history with some of the bosses he fought? That is not here. In fact Dante says very little in this game through the CG cutscenes (there are a lot of them in this game) and it seems to me as if Dante has a new voice actor, but I could be wrong. No longer is Dante a smart-ass who can kick ass. He is a barely speaking character with boring swords and no reason to be where he is. During the game I wondered whether this was actually a prequel or not as it really does not share anything in common with the first game.
Now we can talk about the good stuff in this game. The graphics are pretty good this time around and there can be more enemies on the screen than in the first one. Where the graphics fail are in the environment graphics such as buildings. The buildings are boring and have no life to them. Yes, this is a game set in a gothic world, but there are no cool structures like the cathedral in the first game. Dante and Lucia move well and the graphic touches to the attacks are cooler this time around. Dante and Lucia can float in the air and shoot, it is really quite cool. The controls are pretty easy to get used to as well. The problem is that once you see Dante and Lucia’s ancillary moves (backflip, running on walls, etc.) they no longer are exciting. They rarely help you in the situation you are in and they do nothing with the combo system. This is a straight ahead action game and if you go in thinking you are going to find a story in it or a continuation of the original game, you will be sorry.
A lock-on targeting system is used in this game. It works a lot like Eternal Darkness in that you press the lock-on button and can let go of it and hit it again to target another enemy. Even though there are a lot of enemies on the screen at once, I found that they only attacked one-by-one for the most part. Why not make Dante/Lucia feel somewhat in peril with an overpowering horde of enemies?
The other great thing is that you can play as either Dante or the new female, Lucia. Disc 1 is Dante and Disc 2 is Lucia. Lucia has fewer missions than Dante does and will take less time to beat. Lucia employs knives where Dante employs Ebony and Ivory. I find that they added Lucia as a playable character because you could blow through Dante’s part in about 3-5 hours no problem. They needed to give us a little bit more gameplay obviously. I am not saying that Lucia was an afterthought, but maybe they should have put more thought into making this game fun.The character movements are excellent in this game and the graphics are overall pretty good. The problem with the graphics is in the blandness of the environment. The cool colors from the first game do not show up in this game. This game is far darker than I remember the original being. Boring backgrounds just bring the overall graphic presentation down. The music presented here is a lot like Devil May Cry in that there is a lot of industrial music in it during the battles. Outside of battles the music, if even there, is not very exciting. This is a lot like Devil May Cry. The sound seems downgraded to me. Ebony and Ivory just do not pack the punch in sound that they did in the original and the swords make sounds as bland as their appearance. The controls are generally good. Dante’s new moves are mostly for show though except for the ability to jump and shoot in this game. Dante just does not seem to flow as well as he did in the first game. I am disappointed that the ability to shoot in different directions was not put as a button on the controller. This game could have been so much more and the moves could have flowed with combos (if they were in here). In some ways it feels like a John Woo movie, but it just does not have the same free flowing feel.
They took the soul out of Devil May Cry and created a sequel. There is no cohesive story in this game and no real reason why Dante follows Lucia to this island or where he is. The biggest faux pas in this game is that Dante’s swords have been taken away and replaced with bland swords that have no personality and no real upgrades that create new moves like they did with Alastor and Ifrit in the first game. Why the heck would the son of Sparda not have the damn sword with him?
I can easily chalk this up as being that a new development group worked on this game. It is obvious that they did not go back and learn what made the original truly great. I felt as if I was just going through the motions in this game. I no longer felt like I was Dante like I did in the first game. I just felt I was a character with some guns and a sword killing enemies on the screen. Maybe the story did this. Maybe it was the fact that Dante is no longer a smart-ass with sharp barbs to his enemies. The soul has obviously left the Devil in this one.
Lowest score I give is a 50 and this game gets it. You will blow through this game and both characters in no time flat (8 hours at most maybe). Yes, there are more difficult modes, but if you did not enjoy the game the first time through what are the chances of you wanting to play through it again?
I implore you to rent this game and send a message to Capcom that they have made a game that does not stay anywhere near close to the original. This is an example of a bad sequel and Capcom should be ashamed in not holding this game back so the original developers could work on this game proper.