Dante shows us why DMC and DMC3 are still top action brawlers.
These HD collections that videogame publishers are releasing are brilliant ways for people to experience game series they never got around to. A HD collection should be the best representation of that videogame, but truth be told, some publishers see this as quick cash in or don’t put as much love into the conversion as they should do. Thankfully, Capcom have done a good job in making the Devil May Cry HD Collection worthwhile, with only some small irksome features – mostly down to the oldness of the games – that get in the way of a great collection.
Featured on this HD Collection are all the PlayStation 2 games, meaning Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 2 and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition. Since Devil May Cry 4 is already out on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, it now means you can get the complete set on your console of choice. This is most likely more of a bigger deal for Xbox gamers, since this is their first chance to play the older games. This review isn’t going to break down the games; instead, it is more of an overview of each one, how they have aged overtime and how they look in their new HD crispness.
First up is Devil May Cry, which was released back in 2001. This was a super-stylish pure action game from the brilliant mind of Hideki Kamiya (the guy who brought you the exceptionalBayonetta) and revolutionised the action genre with challenging and distinctive gameplay never before seen. Dante, the hero of these three games, carries a huge sword and dual pistols. By combining these two weapons together in combat, Dante can hack and blast foes into a flashy juggling combo showcase as the aim is to get the almighty “Stylish” rating. The entirety of the game was set around a small island featuring a giant Gothic castle slap bang in the middle. Dante has to explore around this castle, slaying demons, beating bosses, opening new areas and generally kicking arse. At the time of release, Devil May Cry was simply the must game to get if you had a PlayStation 2.
It’s now eleven years later, so how does Devil May Cry stand up? To my surprise, the first game holds up rather well. Revisiting the title showed me that this game still has a feeling of uniqueness that makes it stand out; no other games have really captured the same feeling as Dante’s first outing. Its gameplay remains a sheer joy, proving a testament to the dazzling ageless gameplay design at the time.
Other parts do show their age, like the fixed cameras that follow the player from their locked point of focus. It can obscure your viewpoint – making it awkward to see where to go – and can confuse you when it switches in battle. Even so, the HD upgrade to the resolution removes jaggies and makes the game crisp as day, showing off the gothic art design in all its galore. Textures are a bit blurry and models have their low polygons sticking out, but it’s an 11 year old game, so it’s to be expected. The only problem is all the menus and recorded videos remain in 4:3, and even then are somewhat pixelated. I can understand why they didn’t stretch them to widescreen as it would look a horrid mess, especially with some of the FMVs in the first game. But it’s a bit of a bummer as it’s the only detail that throws you out of the sharp presentation when taking part in its sweet gameplay.
2003 brought the follow up, Devil May Cry 2, and it was critically seen as a huge disappointment. The main problem was with the difficulty. The first game was challenging, but the sequel removed all the difficulty making the game such a walk in the park that it required no skill to finish. It was a real shame because Dante had a much more versatile move list; in a sense, the game should have been better. Instead, Capcom wasted that away by having dumb enemies that can be killed by simply shooting or button mashing. Devil May Cry 2 wasn’t an awful game per se, more of an average game where the standards were much lower than the original. It will always be known as the lowest point in the life of Dante and the weakest in this collection.
Again, the camera is also locked in this game, creating problems when trying to view the surroundings. It’s more hurtful here than in the first title because Devil May Cry 2 is set in open landscapes rather than inside a castle. The camera can make it awkward to find things that are out of view, especially when trying to determine where to jump. The designers seem to think that open areas means more jumping, which for us translates into frustration. The game also auto locks on, pushing Dante to the side of the camera - extremely annoying. You have to hold R2 to stop Dante auto targeting enemies. I never knew why they swapped that around from the original’s hold-to-aim style. Menus are in 4:3 and some sections of video are in their original size, but FMVs seem to be blown up to fit on widescreen TVs. The problem here is that they’re quite pixelated and don’t look all that nice. Maybe the designers should have put in an option so that it is down to the player if they want to watch them blown up to full screen or not. Overall, the high resolution makes the game look sharp and crisp once again, but the unimaginative designs in Devil May Cry 2 make it stand out less than the other two titles in the collection.
Lastly, and in my view (and I am not alone with this feeling) the best of the franchise, Devil May Cry 3. The one included in this collection is the platinum special edition that came out a year later after the first launch of Devil May Cry 3. Acting as a prequel to Devil May Cry, a young Dante takes centre stage as he hunts down his brother Vergil. The special edition allows you to play as Vergil, along with the inclusion of the “Bloody Palace” survival mode, Turbo mode and rebalanced difficulty.
Criticism about Devil May Cry 2 certainly went heard because the third game reignited the flame and took everything that made the first so good and pushed it not up to 11, but way past it. This game is harder, and an over-the-top rollercoaster action fest that is still regarded as one of the best pure action games to date. A style system was introduced that offered Dante the ability to switch between specific styles of play. You could use the Swordmaster style so that your melee attacks were improved or the Trickster class so you can dodge much better. The more you used that specific class, the more they improved and made you stronger. You can have up to two of the same style of weapons equipped at one time, allowing Dante to do real time weapon changing to keep the combos going, yes, well before it became such an advertised thing by the developers of Genji: Days of the Blade. I’m sure there are some weak points for massive damage in somewhere as well. Devil May Cry 3 is easily the game that has stood the test of time, even outshining most action games you can find on the Xbox 360 orPS3.
It’s also the game that comes out best with the HD treatment. The whole game is widescreen apart from a couple of menus. Videos aren’t as blurry, which I am guessing is due to the game coming out closer to the end of the PS2 cycle. Also, like the other two games, this one is sharp and crisp. It’s the best of the bunch in both looks and gameplay.
If you look around, you can pick up the Devil May Cry: HD Collection for £24.99, a solid price to say you are getting two classics. The extras you get aren’t all that fancy. They include all the soundtracks on the menus and artwork from the games plus from the Capcom community. It’s a bit strange that you have to close down the game to be able to select a different game to play, and the menus where you select these games are somewhat cheap looking. In short though, this collection is about about the translation to HD and it’s done as you would expect. Capcomhasn’t touched the gameplay, but they’ve sharpened the look and left it fully intact without cocking it up (looking at you, Konami!) to bring new and old gamers a taste of top quality action games that still reign supreme today. Well, at least two quality action games that is.