Review: Devil May Cry HD Collection
The DMC HD Collection is a remastered re-release of Devil May Cry 1, 2 and 3: Special Edition. The series focuses on fast-paced fluent action and skillful and stylish combat.
- Worth The Time?DMC1 and 3 are definitely worth a play through.
- Things LovedHaving DMC1 on the PS3 with smooth graphics is a big catch, DMC3 has very deep combat with plenty of variety and weapons. There are a lot of great boss fights in the series and plenty of replay value.
- Things HatedDevil May Cry 2.
- RecommendationIf you've enjoyed DMC4, Bayonetta, God of War or similar action games, then you'll definitely enjoy this. Even if you enjoy fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter then the fast paced combo-centric gameplay will keep you entertained. If you don't like difficult games, they can be a little alienating but if you like a challenge then these are what you're looking for.
- Name: Devil May Cry HD Collection
- Genre: Action: Beat -em-up
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PS3
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: R400
- Reviewed On: PS3
It’s always unusual to contemplate buying these HD re-releases. The ‘never before seen super special secret bonus content’ is usually negligible so it usually boils down to two questions: “are you getting good value?” and “have the games stood the test of time?”. The answer to the first question for the DMC collection is most certainly a yes. You’re getting two great games (and one crap one) with plenty of replay value at a reduced price and if you end up enjoying them, they’ll keep you busy for a long time. The second question is always more challenging to answer. Gaming has come a long way since the PS2 era so there are always going to be comforts that we’ve taken for granted that you’ll most definitely miss in any old generation re-release. On the other hand, the gameplay of the DMC games is really solid and even if you find that DMC1 and 2 are too dated for your liking, Devil May Cry 3 is so good that I’d even recommend it as a full price purchase to those who enjoys action games. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Devil May Cry Series, I’ll give a quick overview before diving into each game individually.
The Devil May Cry series originally started out in development as the next Resident Evil game but after a series of tangents it diverged so far that they just went ahead into making it an IP of it’s own. It follows the story of Dante, the eponymous devil who, according to the title, may or may not cry at some point in the series. He’s a witty and brash half-demon half-human Demon Hunter who’s the son of the a legendary demon named Sparda who betrayed his own kind to protect the human race. The series follows Dante as he takes on powerful demons and also explores his dysfunctional family history.
While the story is often interesting enough to carry the game, the main focus of the DMC games is the action. Dante wields various demonic melee weapons called Devil Arms and several guns and can use his Devil Trigger to turn into a demon at will. The games are difficult, often throwing tons of aggressive enemies at you but also giving you an impressive repertoire of abilities, attacks and weapons. The fights get really frantic and fast-paced and the aim is to kill demons without dying but also to fight as stylishly as possible by avoiding damage, combining attacks and varying the different moves you use. The Stylish meter actually grades you from D to A and then S depending on how well you’re fighting and it’ll drop immediately if you start running away, get hit or repeat the same moves over and over.
The games normally put you in a giant world that you can freely roam but splits up the gameplay into a series of very linear missions, often with a boss fights in the middle or at the end. There’s usually a decent mixture of combat, boss fights and puzzle solving and plenty of secrets to find, abilities and items to buy and extras to unlock. The games also have multiple difficulty levels and it’s only really on the higher ones that you can really appreciate how well constructed the game. On the higher difficulties, enemies change their behavior, gain new attacks and, on the highest levels the enemies even gain Devil Triggers of their own.
The series is definitely quite popular for it’s fast-paced nonstop action and deep intricate combat and frankly there’s few other games where you’ll be karate kicking a monster in the face one minute and shooting him with a rocket launcher the next. It certainly is way over the top with a lot of style and flair and while the games don’t take themselves too seriously, the stories are usually written well enough and Dante is a lovable protagonist with more to him than meets the eye.
The HD Collection contains DMC1, both discs of 2 and the Special Edition of 3 as well as a few small extras like art and music. In HD, it’s a great little package to help you enter the series if you’re interested in catching up before playing 4 or the yet to be released 5 and even for a bit of nostalgia if you enjoyed them back in the day.
Devil May Cry 1
By the time of this re-release, the original Devil May Cry is almost eleven years old and it’s really feels like a game that was still discovering itself. At the time, it was fairly unique among action games, bringing plenty new to the table with a mixture between sword-fighting and gun-play with the emphasis being on fighting skillfully and stylishly rather than button-mashing. The series has certainly evolved a lot from it’s first incarnation. The game-play has become a lot more varied and deep and when you’ve played the newer games, going all the way back to Devil May Cry 1 can make it seem quite old and dated.
That being said, when DMC was originally released it was a fantastic game and in many respects it still is. It’s hard to say it’s amazing you’ve got DMC3 on the same disc but if you haven’t played it before then it’s most definitely worth your time. The graphics still hold up nicely, the story is still great, the music as always is awesome and after you get past the first half hour or so when you have few moves and one gun, the combat really starts to pick up and become a lot more fun. It also takes a bit of time to adjust to the game because it is quite difficult until you get the hang of it. The game doesn’t give you a lot of guidance on how to play it but once you figure out that you can slash enemies into the air and then keep them suspended in mid-air with the fire from your pistols, you’re beginning to understand the strange logic required to enjoy this game. It also takes a bit of time before you get to the really cool attacks and weapons. But once you do get a few hours in, it does feel pretty awesome to flaming-uppercut a demon in the face or blow a lizard to pieces with the grenade launcher.
The game can certainly keep you entertained because the combat is a lot of fun and you’ll definitely be doing a lot of it. There’s less emphasis on puzzling and platforming and most of the time you’ll just be going from point A to B, killing everything in your way. The boss fights are also all challenging and excellent. You’re probably going to die quite a bit until you figure out how they behave in general but once you’ve gotten into a good rhythm and can come up with a decent strategy for each one, they’re definitely the high point of the game. There’s also a lot of replay value since you unlock ‘Hard Mode’ when you beat the game and then ‘Dante Must Die’ and ‘Legendary Dark Knight’ if you get through that. In DMD Mode, difficulty borders on absurd so if you’re the type of gamer who likes a challenge, then it’ll keep you busy. LDK Mode lets you play as Dante’s father. Not too different, but it’s a nice extra; something you certainly don’t see much of in games nowadays.
Overall, Devil May Cry 1 is definitely worth a play-through if you haven’t before and if you can forgive it’s age you’ll definitely find yourself enjoying it very much. If you have played it before however, then the HD re-release doesn’t offer significant improvements on the original and you could be forgiven for passing it up.
Devil May Cry 2
In a word, DMC2 is a disappointment. If you play through 1, then within the first five minutes you can see why it’s widely considered the worst in the series and if you’ve played through all of them, you can also see why it feels like such an outsider in a series of fantastic games. DMC2 is shockingly bland compared to the other games in the series which are stylized to the point of absurdity. It’s clear that a lot of the stylistic elements were purposely removed. In all the other games, Dante is a cocky jackass who won’t think twice about trash-talking demons several times the size of him but In DMC2 he hardly ever speaks and even when he does, he barely shows any personality or character depth at all.
The graphics have definitely improved and it looks good in HD, but compared to the colorful medieval setting of the first game, the washed out and generic urban and town environments look very dull. The enemies also lack a lot of identity and the boss fights don’t really have the same build-up and kind of just pop-out of nowhere. Even the music is less noticeable. It’s sad because everything that made the first game such a blast isn’t there and a game that used to feel so unique now feels so generic and forgettable.
I suppose you’d be able to forgive the lack of any flair whatsoever if the gameplay was good but it’s actually unbelievably poor. The game feels a lot more sluggish than the first and the attacks don’t really chain nicely together. There are fewer weapons and guns and overall and a lot fewer moves. You also start off with all the skills unlocked so Weapon Upgrades are damage only. It’s a bit strange that a lot of the extra weapons are very difficult to find and can be missed in your play through. It seems to defeat the purpose of having extra weapons in the game if the player can’t even find them. Although even if you do find them, it still is disappointing. The shotgun is hardly useful, the submachine guns are hardly different from the pistols, the missile launcher is cool but the melee weapons are horrifying. All three of them are similar looking swords with the exact same attacks. Getting new weapons offers no new moves to your arsenal at all. The only difference between the three is range and damage, so you’re effectively stuck with the same limited repetoire of attacks for the entire game with no way to increase it.
Dante can still do many of his flair moves like launching enemies and following up with aerial combos and he does have a few new tricks like wall running and dodging but there’s often not much reason to do anything other than just mash triangle repeatedly against most enemies. The enemies also have a lot of health and aren’t very threatening in most cases so a game that used to have such amazing combat is now very repetitive.
The boss fights, sadly, are where the game suffers the most. Since the bosses do a lot of melee damage, the best strategy for almost all of the fights seems to be to just run away and gun them down slowly with your ranged weapons. In fact, it almost seems like they were designed this way. Several of the bosses will purposely run away from you or fly so that the only way to attack them is with guns. Further still, a lot of their attacks are easy to dodge at range and some of them outright can’t even hit you if you just stay a certain distance away and keep strafing. It also doesn’t help that the ranged weapons are so strong in this game. In Devil Trigger, the pistols do tons of damage very fast and by the time you get the Missile Launcher, you only really need one button to beat most regular fights. Other than the kraken thing, I literally beat every single boss fight in the entire game by just running away and holding square.
The game isn’t very long and while it can get difficult, if you’ve finished the first one you’ll blow through it with ease. The hardest parts in the game are actually where the level design is so poor that you don’t know where to go. There’s a second story mode where you get to play as the other protagonist Lucia, but she doesn’t really play much differently than Dante and her campaign is even shorter. She’s such an uninteresting character that there’s not much reason to play her story anyway. It’s not like the game even has much story to speak of. It starts with Dante being told that there’s some evil guy they want him to kill and then Dante pretty much just goes off to kill him. You only meet him near the end and it turns out he’s some kind of demonic businessman with the worst French/Russian/German? accent you’ve ever heard. Even the fight with him is disappointing. He just sits on a chair and chills while you fight his minions and barely even moves when you attack him. There’s a Hard Mode to unlock and Dante Must Die after that and you can even unlock Trish from the first game as a playable character but I’m sure that you have better things to do with your time.
All in all, DMC2 just feels lacklustre and if it’s the only game missing from your collection, then you seriously don’t have a problem. There are so many poor design choices in this game that you have to sit and wonder who in their right mind approved the design document. After a while you really start to wonder if the game does anything right at all. If you’ve bought the HD Collection and you really want to play it, then thankfully it is quite short but for most people, I’d recommend that you play the first one and then move immediately onto the third. Those two games alone are more than good enough to justify your purchase so don’t feel too bad that this game is pathetic.
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
Let’s not mince words; this is what you came here to see. While Devil May Cry 2 gets nearly everything wrong, DMC3 goes the opposite direction and finally hits the sweet spot, getting nearly everything right. The series almost reinvents itself, taking us back to the events that lead up to the first game where Dante is still a youthful prick and is at war with his ambitious and power-hungry brother; Vergil. It also comes with a completely new engine and heavily updated gameplay, drawing mainly from the first game but also finally finding it’s identity as a series and focusing on the aspects that make it so good.
The first thing to note is that the game is hard and, while it will offer a lot more explanations to newcomers than the first two games, DMC3 throws you straight into the deep end from the first level and it only gets harder from there. The first major boss you fight in level 3 is an absolute haymaker straight to the face if you’re still getting to grips with the game. If you’re new to the series, it will take you quite a bit of trial and error and experimentation to figure out how to play the game well but, once you do, it becomes an absolute blast. The game does offer an easy mode if you’re struggling but you have to die a few times to unlock it… almost like the game is mocking you.
But once you do start figuring out all the mechanics like launching, air juggling, cancelling, crazy combos, dodging and style points you’ll begin to start enjoying yourself… and then you’ll start to enjoy it a lot. It’s challenging but the combat is deep, fun and richly satisfying. There’s a ton of moves and a lot of combo potential so experimenting will get you places and the feeling of pulling off an S-Rank combo while dodging multiple enemies at lightning speed is what this game is all about.
The combat is fairly simple to explain. X to jump or dodge, Square for guns, Triangle for melee weapons and circle for Style Action. The new Style System is what the game revolves around. Before the start of the mission you pick a style and the more you use a particular style, the more it levels up and unlocks new abilities. The four basic styles are Trickster for advanced movement and dodging, Gunslinger for additional gun abilities, Swordmaster for additional melee moves and Royal Guard for defensive abilities. You unlock a few more styles as the game progresses but I won’t spoil those for you.
There are also five melee weapons and five guns that you acquire throughout the game and the strangeness of the weapons should tell you about the tone of this game. The Devil Arms are a giant sword, three-headed nunchuks, dual flame and wind swords, a light-emitting body armour and a possessed electric guitar. The guns are Dante’s pistols, the shotgun, a homing laser gun, a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher with a grappling hook. Each of the weapons has a lot of different moves and more can be purchased or unlocked through levelling up your style. You can choose two devil arms and two guns before each mission and swap between them at will so between the different combinations of weapons and styles, there are a LOT of different ways to play and tons of different moves. While sticking to a few weapons and upgrading them does sound tempting, you get the most out of the game by using different weapons and styles based on the level and experimenting a bit to figure out which combination suits your play-style.
Needless to say, the combat is amazing and once again in the series, the boss fights really stand out (The Special Edition has three extra boss fights with Jester). There are a lot of different bosses and, while they’re all quite difficult, they’re usually the fights that keep you entertained the most. Again, it takes some time to learn their patterns and how best to fight them but they will provide an awesome challenge once you do. You fight Vergil himself a few times throughout the game and since he has his own weapons, abilities, combos and Devil Trigger it’s really is quite the epic battle. The soundtrack also really stands out and the heavy metal guitar and gothic tracks are really a trademark of the series. While the game doesn’t focus too much on it, the story is fairly well told and the rivalry between Dante and his brother along with some good voice acting keeps you interested in what happens next.
There’s plenty to do after you finish the game on Normal or Easy. There’s Hard, Very Hard, Dante Must Die and a bonus mode Heaven or Hell where everything including you, dies in one hit. Completing each mode unlocks a new costume, all of which have different attributes and some with different Devil Triggers. There’s also the Bloody Palace after you the complete the game which is a 100 level arena of non-stop fighting. The Special Edition also allows you to play with Dante’s brother, Vergil, after you complete the game and he’s got an entire mode of his own, He’s got three of his own weapons, each with it’s own unique abilities and his own style with plenty of additional moves. While he’s nowhere near as diverse as Dante, he plays completely differently and it’s a nice extra. He also has multiple unlockable costumes like Dante some with additional moves.
All in all, if you’re enjoying DMC3 there’s a lot to keep you busy and, hands-down, it’s the best game on the disc and one of the best action games of the PS2 era.