By ArbitraryWater 18 Comments
What am I doing with my life again? Oh, right. Looking for employment, bolstered by the fact that all of the teenagers with summer jobs have to go back to school in a week. I would too, except for the part where I'm not. Living at home has its perks, don't get me wrong, but I'm also stranded in Southeastern Idaho with a handful of friends who are either still in High School or are skipping fall semester as well for various reasons. So... clearly what I need to do with my time is play infamously bad sequels to beloved games, which will clearly escalate until I sink 50 hours into Suikoden IV or look up prices for Sonic 2006 on Ebay. Actually, scratch that. This one may have broken me. But not really, because Sonic Chronicles still needs to be played.
Devil May Cry 2 is a bad game. I feel like that has been canonized as fact by the internet. While plenty of other bad or questionable game sequels will have their share of defenders (I will defend Dragon Age II more than it deserves), I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t think that DMC2 is anything better than mediocre (though I’m sure I’ll encounter one of them by the time this blog has run its course). But of course, given my sort of positive (neutral?) reception to the much derided Resident Evil 6, I figured I should know for myself. Also, I finished Bayonetta recently, so I figured that I may as well play the low watermark of the genre just to give myself that much more contrast. That was a poor idea. Or maybe it was a great idea, because now I can write this blog and give it the textual thrashing it so very deserves. I haven’t encountered a game that squanders the promise and legacy of the original title as badly as this one does since Deus Ex Invisible War. Both feel like bad imitations or parodies of the series they claim to represent rather than actual installments. Both came out in 2003. Coincidence? I think not.
And really, that Invisible War comparison can be extended to what makes it bad as well. It has all of the elements of a Devil May Cry game; you can knock hell demons in the air and juggle them with pistols, varying attacks can improve your score and the writing is probably only good in an ironic sense. Devil May Cry 2 is also responsible for some of Dante’s more iconic moves, like the one where he fires his pistols in two different directions, and also threw in a dedicated dodge button (one that would later be used as the style button in DMC3 and 4). Unfortunately, it also does all of these things poorly. Dante’s moves have some lag to them (the usually trusty Stinger is remarkably ineffectual), different combos are not done by pausing between button presses but by what direction you are holding the analog stick, something that I didn’t really discover until I had almost finished the game. You also don’t get new moves, rather you just upgrade your weapons to do more damage against already weak enemies. Instead of getting new melee weapons that handle differently, you get two additional swords with minor stat differences but otherwise handle the same as Rebellion.
Though secretly, none of that melee stuff actually matters because you are often better off shooting everything with your pistols than you are trying to close the distance. Much like how kicking everything was the best idea in Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, most of the guns in Devil May Cry 2 are notably overpowered in a way that allows you to dump with impunity, having the assurance that most foes will die before they reach you. While yes, you still need to use your sword and it still does a respectable amount of damage, there are several bosses who are designed in such a way as to make closing in to melee range less than smart. Oh, did I mention the bosses? There are quite a few of them and most of them are complete jokes once you activate Devil Trigger and take down 30% of their health with a single burst of gunfire. Some of them could probably fit in other games in the series just fine (in fact, you fight that lava spider from the first game for no real reason), but then there’s that part where you have to fight a demon helicopter and the only way to deal with it involves standing still and shooting since any attempt at a melee attack will end with you running into its rotors and taking damage. That particular segment is egregiously bad, but may still be topped by the rather unfortunate underwater boss that Lucia has to fight, continuing to prove that the water level of every game is always the worst one.
You’ll notice that this was the first time I bothered mentioning the game’s second playable character (apparently Trish is also playable if you beat Hard mode with Dante, but that’s not happening). It’s because, unlike Vergil or Nero, Lucia handles very similarly to Dante. She’s faster, her dodges aren’t quite as good and she has different projectile weapons, but you can still get away with doing the same stuff in her short-er disk. I have no idea why the game was split into two disks, given that Lucia goes through the same dull, brown and grey levels as Dante, (the unfortunate water level being the notable exception) and the game itself is around 5 hours long. It’s not like that space is being filled by a ton of cutscenes or FMV anyways. Dante hardly speaks for most of his adventure and only barely starts to resemble the one-liner slinging bishonen we all know and love(?) by the end. Lucia’s story is shorter and even less coherent in that regard. I’m not going to pretend that story is something I look for in Devil May Cry games, but the way it is executed in this particular one is about as lazy and half-assed as possible. At no point does anyone say “Let’s Rock Baby!” in an unironic fashion. That is clearly a misstep.
The ultimate irony to all of this is that the same team went on to make DMC 3 and 4, the former of which I can confirm to still be totally awesome. Since the franchise is pretty much dead for another 5-8 years thanks to DmC: Devil May Cry, it might be fun to try to finish 1 and 4 somewhere down the line just so I can talk about the series as a whole, but for now I have…. *sigh* that Sonic RPG to play more of. Also Wizardry 6-8 are on sale on GOG, but today only. Here, have a speedrun of Might and Magic VIII, another underwhelming sequel (though still not bad at all). I'ma play Divekick now.