on June 20, 2012
In 2001, just a year after the Playstation 2 launched, a small gem of a game dropped down called Devil May Cry. The game was originally conceived as another Resident Evil but went so far off that it became it's own thing. The result was a revolutionary game that helped reshape gaming and redefine a genre for quite some time. While Devil May Cry isn't always remembered for that now the point is simple: In 2001 we simply hadn't seen a game like it. It was fluid and smooth. It had great action and cheesy one-liners. But most of all, it had stylish combat, the likes of which had never been seen in a video game before. The original Devil May Cry came out at the perfect time. Not so far into the PS2's life to be too big of a ripoff, and early enough that it could be considered innovative because no other game COULD have done what it did before it.
Let's be frank, most of what Devil May Cry is remembered for is hardly the story. In fact, until I popped in the HD collection I had pretty much forgotten what the games were about. The only thing I remembered (as I'm sure many people who played the game just over ten years ago remember) were the crazy moves in combat, the cheesy one liners and the incredible effects you could watch. Who doesn't remember watching the opening scene of the original Devil May Cry for the first time? It's laughably cheesy and then you feel content because it's supposed to be. This was our introduction to the game. By having a girl ride in on a bike and then immediately attacking our protagonist by impaling him with a sword before throwing the very bike she rode in on at him... to which he blast it away with his gun and it explodes. This was the make it or break it moment. If you could go along with this ridiculous action you were going to be rewarded. If it was "too much" for you then you were not likely to dive in beyond that. It's a great opening cinematic because it perfectly illustrates what Devil May Cry is. The story isn't what's important. It's the style, the action and the gameplay.
And for the most part it's still fun. All three games play rather identical. The first one is a charmer, but the real show here is definitely Devil May Cry 3 more so than the other two. In fact, because of how things are set up, even newcomers can jump into the third first seeing as how it takes place before the first game. The combat in all of the games is rather simple and yet... still complex. You have an assortment of weapons to use (although most times you'll be using a sword) where you can perform combos or hit enemies into the air and blow them away with your guns. You can perform special moves or go into Devil Form where your abilities and defenses are improved. It's an interesting system. The monsters which attack you throughout the games are fierce. And as you tackle them you generally hear heavy metal music in the background. You've got guns, tricks, juggles and a lot of variety. Your moves are ranked as Dull, Crazy, Bravo, Awesome and Stylish to give you a sense of how well your doing. When you dispatch enemies they drop red orbs for you to use as currency to buy even more crazy moves. Devil May Cry was, in a way, ahead of its time. Still using some of the same things which came before it, but using all of it to provide so much variety for the game in and of itself. Variety that still serves as a strength today.
Make no mistake, however, these games are tough. They included the Special Edition of Devil May Cry 3, for those wondering. Primarily because including the original I'm sure would've rekindled memories of pure frustration for some gamers. Regardless, all three games are fairly tough. They're unforgiving at what they do. If you need a moment to readjust to the controls the game is likely to give you a rough start.
Devil May Cry 2 is perhaps the one that has aged the worst out of all of them, and it's mostly because it already had a lukewarm reception upon release. The game felt like a step backward. It was not only easier, but it was shorter and didn't feature nearly as much creativity, detail or even some of the cheesy action we'd come to see. The combat wasn't bad, though, but it's often considered the weakest of the trilogy by fans.
The third one, however, is by far the best of the lot. And because it's the Special Edition you get all the extras of the special edition. Likewise, the third game just has the best flowing combat of all three games. Not to mention a few interesting tweaks that give Dante four different styles to go into each mission as. It's overall the best experience.
I'd actually recommend playing all three. Not only do you get to experience gaming history but you can see how these games really helped to shape and influence the action games which came after it. That being said though, you also can't help but notice how dated some of Devil May Cry is. As good as these games are, gaming has progressed quite a bit since then. The first and most glaring issue is that the camera angles really get on ones nerves. The fixed camera angles are going to mess you up. You're going to miss a couple of jumps because of some of the camera angles. With no control given to the player and some strange angles you're more apt to mess up some good timing. Likewise, some of the awkward camera angles can screw up with how you're actually moving. You'll be running away from the screen only for the angle to change and you're suddenly running toward the screen instead which will sometimes cause you to do a weird awkward turn around before pressing forward. Simply put, Devil May Cry doesn't control as smoothly as it used to.
Some of the controls can throw you for a loop for a brief moment. For example, in 2012 most of us who play a game that involves using a gun in 3D space are used to pressing one trigger to raise the weapon and the other trigger to fire. Devil May Cry has you press one trigger to raise the weapon, but square to fire. You'd think this wouldn't take time to readjust to... but it actually does. It doesn't keep you out for very long, but it sort of provides an idea for just how much even some of the basic foundation of control schemes have changed. At the very least, however, Dante always locks on to the nearest target automatically and there's no need to make sure you have enough ammo. Dante's weapons never run out of ammo.
These aren't huge issues by any means. They're merely what you'd call "state of the art." This was just how a lot of video games were when Devil May Cry came out. None of that is changed here, although you do wish that at the very least CAPCOM would've added in the ability to rotate the camera.
As far as the HD itself goes, that's a tough one. The gameplay actually looks great, but some of the other moments not quite as much. You'll see some ugly textures from time to time, but what's more daunting is how CAPCOM opted not to touch some of it. CAPCOM left the menus in regular Standard Definition so some people are bound to notice a few strange textures (particularly when you go into the options menu in the first Devil May Cry). This is really not that big a deal, although with how other games had their HD collections treated it just seems somewhat lazy not to go the whole nine yards. HD Collections like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus or Metal Gear Solid just did a better job. Some of the pre-rendered cutscenes also look like they weren't really touched at all. Again, you're gonna notice a few ugly textures. During actual gameplay, though and during the cutscenes that aren't pre-rendered the games actually look quite good. Again, it just seems very odd that CAPCOM wouldn't go the full nine yards with some of this stuff. It only takes booting up the original Devil May Cry to see this. The pre-rendered cutscene at the beginning of the first Devil May Cry is in standard for instance, yet the first meeting between Dante and Trish (because it's not pre-rendered) is in HD, but then the next pre-rendered scene that plays in which Trish talks about Mundus is in standard. Perhaps this is most noticeable when you boot up and watch the pre-rendered cutscene at the beginning of Devil May Cry 3 and then the in-game cutscene that's immediately after it. It's clear CAPCOM wants you to focus on the gameplay more than the story but... again, why not just go the whole nine yards with it?
The other strange nitpick with this collection is when you select a game. When you boot the HD Collection up you can choose which Devil May Cry you want to play, but once you go into that game, you can't exactly get back to the main menu to let you select a different game. You have to quit all the way out and then boot up the collection again. It's another moment that just seems lazy.
I wouldn't shun anyone away from this collection. It's actually a good one. You get three games for a decent price. And while not EVERYTHING is in HD at least the gameplay itself is and that's not so bad. There are a few parts of Devil May Cry that haven't aged as well, but the games are still good in and of themselves.