The video game industry isn't as surprising as we'd like to think. Sequels
rule the sales charts, and even new IPs tend to be paint jobs of
proven gameplay schemes. It's easy to point the finger at developers and
publishers, but let's take a look at a few of the bigger gambles that
companies have taken with their properties.
Back in 2001,
the first footage for the next Legend of Zelda caused some serious
uproar when, rather than an updated Ocarina of Time fantasy setting, the
new game went with a wholly cel-shaded, cartoony art style. Many had
been won over by the charming new Link by the game's release, but I
bet that just as many swore off Nintendo for good after this "kiddie"
debacle. Later in 2001, those who had recently purchased Metal
Gear Solid 2 were appalled to find the game had pulled a bait-and-switch,
tossing the series' longtime protagonist Solid Snake aside within the
first hour of the game for a never before seen pretty boy. The ensuing
explosion of discontent was megaton in proportion.
Konami have had their share of death threats on message boards for these
switcheroos, and now it seems Capcom's neck is on the chopping block.
The long-rumored Devil May Cry 5 was finally made public at TGS 2010 as
"DmC," and fans were shocked to see that it would reboot the series with
a new, barely recognizable, adolescent punk version of cocky anti-hero
protagonist Dante. Further, Capcom itself isn't even spearheading the
development of the title, leaving Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory
in charge. The response has been
almost entirely negative.
Amidst all the noise on message
boards and in video comments, I realized I hadn't spent any quality time
with the old Dante myself, despite how much I enjoyed the modern Ninja
action games that are often compared to the Devil May Cry series.
I borrowed a copy of the franchise's most acclaimed game, Devil May Cry
3 (which also happens to be the earliest in the series timeline) to
serve as my official introduction to the outrageous half-demon. It's
hard to empathize with the gamer rage that DMC fans feel at the moment,
but will I change my tune after walking a mile in the old Dante's boots?
Minute by Minute
- New Game. A woman is narrating about the legend of Sparda, the demon
who rebelled against his own kind for the sake of humanity. He closed
the opening from the demon world into the human world, sealing his own
incredible power in the process.
01 - The woman knows Sparda
existed because she met his two sons. They fight each other in the rain,
in slow motion. One in a blue trenchcoat, the other in red, each with
white hair. Blue impales red!
02 - "But in the end, only one was
left standing." Flash to the present: A phone rings. Dante walks in and
answers it, saying he's not open for business yet.
03 - A man
walks in, asking if Dante is the son of Sparda. He comes with an
invitation from Dante's brother. He abruptly kicks the table at
Dante, who flips over it and draws his guns. He does everything so
04 - A bunch of grim reapers zoom in and stab Dante
with scythes! He isn't phased at all. He smacks them away and walks
across the room with the scythes still stuck in his body. "This party's
gettin' crazy! Let's rock!" He slams the jukebox until it starts
playing heavy metal.
05 - Dante sticks a piece of pizza in his
mouth and lays into his attackers with his bare hands, his guns, and
their own scythes. He even uses billiard balls like a grapeshot cannon.
Yeah, that was cool. Dante is cool. I wish I was cool, like Dante.
06 - A tutorial pops up: Select from 4 basic
styles: Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, or Royal Guard. Press
Circle to perform the style attack. Each style can level up twice and
learn new actions each time. You can change your style between missions
or at special statues within.
07 - Mission 1: Crazy Party. I'm at
the menu now and can select my style. I'll go with Trickster for now,
which appears to focus on acrobatics and dodging. I have a dash and can
run up walls now.
08 - I can check out my equipment as well,
which right now consists only of Dante's black and white pistols, Ebony
and Ivory, and his broadsword Rebellion. I can purchase new attacks for
his melee weapons and buy upgrades for his guns. The tutorial for controls shows up.
They appear pretty complex, with no button going unused.
09 - The
action starts, and I tear apart the scythe-wielding enemies with my guns
and sword. Melee combos differ based on the timing used when hitting the
one melee attack button. Firing Dante's guns while in mid-air will
cause him to float a bit.
10 - Dante can roll out of the way by
targeting an enemy (R1) and pressing the jump button (X) in a direction.
Clicking the left trigger will cycle the lock-on between enemies. I'm
not sure what good the Trickster dash does when I can roll-dodge anyway.
- The camera view leaves plenty of enemies off-screen. I can't see when
they're ready to pounce. A few off-screen attacks leave me with half
12 - Cutscene: Dante's shop is wrecked from the
mayhem. He grabs his red trenchcoat and heads outside. "I can already
tell, this is gonna be one hell of a party!"
13 - Mission Clear:
I'm graded on mission time, red orbs collected, Stylish points, damage
taken, and items used. My hunter rank for the mission is B, and I get
2000 bonus red orbs for that ranking. Red orbs can be used to purchase
upgrades for weapons and new items. Stylish points go towards leveling
14 - I save my progress. Turns out I can replay
earlier missions while playing through the story. That's pretty cool.
Mission 2: The Blood Link.
15 - I'm back in the pre-mission menu.
I decide to keep my Trickster style instead of changing it. The dodge
function is pretty handy. I don't have enough orbs for any items, or
upgrades, so let's move on.
16 - Cutscene: Dante kicks the door
out from his shop. Scythe-wielding demons are waiting outside. "You guys
totally wrecked my shop, and I haven't even named it yet!" Dante
sneezes, and the whole place comes crashing down.
moves: target the enemy, hold the control stick away from them, and use
melee attack to launch them into the air. I can keep them suspended in
air with gunshots. That's pretty cool. I'm using that word a lot..."cool."18
- Still fighting. I'm not big on this targeting system, it feels kind of complicated. Maybe I just have to get used to it.19
- An enemy that looks like a tumor on legs appears. If I shoot it, it
explodes, taking out any enemies nearby (or me, I assume).20
- One of the enemies coughed up a green orb instead of the regular red ones. It restores some of Dante's health.21
- Cutscene: Portals show up on the roofs, and more enemies emerge. One
of them is a larger Grim Reaper, laughing and wailing. I guess it's a
boss, there's a life meter at the bottom of the screen. It teleports
around and emerges with some pretty fast scythe slashes.22
Probably shouldn't get in too close to this guy, so I'm staying away and
chipping away at its health with my guns. Had some health taken away,
so I guess I'll use a healing item I found earlier. It gives me about
half of my life back. With that safety net, I take out the enemy.23
- Cutscene: An earthquake rips the street apart, and a huge tower
emerges from the ground. Convenient that it's right next door. Dante's
brother Vergil is standing on top of it. Dante says it's been almost a
year since the two last met.24
- The Grim Reaper enemy retreats
up the tower, to Vergil's side. There's also some kind of giant
fish-dragon floating around the top of the tower. Mission complete: this
time I got an A rank, with bonuses for my stylish performance and for
beating that boss.25
- Cutscene: A man emerges from the tower
and approaches Vergil. His name is Arkham. Apparently this tower,
Temen-ni-gru, was built to re-open the portal between the demon world
and the human world. Arkham seems really happy about it being back.26
- Vergil is unconcerned with that, and only wants to know if Dante had
"it." Arkham says he does. The Grim Reaper from earlier approaches
Vergil as well, and he simply slices it in half without even looking.
- Elsewhere, a woman on a motorcycle pulls up to the tower. Demons
approach her. She revs up the motorcycle, and flames from the engines
burn up the demons. Mission 3: The Devil's Tower
- I'm in the
pre-mission menu again. This time, I think I'll switch to Gunslinger.
Rather than the dash and wall-runs, I can now shoot my guns faster,
target two enemies at once with the pistols, and use charge shots. To go
with this, I guess I'll upgrade the power of Ebony and Ivory.29
- Cutscene: some kind of demon archer with one eye in the middle of its
body appears. A tutorial message lets me know I can double jump off of
walls to reach greater heights, like the areas where these archers are
- I dodge some arrows and respond with gunshots. More
demons appear, like those scythe demons and some explosive walking
tumors as well. It's tough fighting these guys on the ground while
archers rain down arrows.31
- The pounding heavy metal goth-rock music
stopped, so I guess they're all dead now. I explore the alley a bit, but
there doesn't seem to be anything to find. The stubborn camera and
plenty of invisible walls make exploration difficult and fruitless.32
- I head into a bar. It's empty inside. A blue seal forms over the
door, meaning there's a puzzle inside to solve. I bust up some bar
stools and tables to get some red orbs.33
- There's a red
circular stone tablet mounted on the wall behind some slot machines.
Hitting it several times with my sword makes the blue barrier go away.
That's not even really a puzzle, is it? Near the door is a shotgun mounted on the
wall, and I grab it for my first new weapon.34
- I can change my
firearms on the fly by pressing L2. Since I have the Gunslinger style
selected, I can charge my shotgun blasts as well. The style attack makes
Dante twirl the gun around his body like nunchuks, firing it randomly
around him. It's stlish but doesn't seem especially useful...
I head into the next room, The Love Planet. Looks like a strip club,
but nobody's here so it might just be an elaborately-decorated fire
hall. A tutorial pops up, explaining that using a variety of attacks and
not letting up on enemies will reward me with more style points. That
seems fair. These enemies are smaller, quicker versions of those scythe
enemies from earlier. They dash in especially quickly from off-screen,
giving me little time to react.
36 - And I'm dead. That was kind
of frustrating, the camera makes it tough to see where attacks are
coming from. I'm back outside in that alley, dodging arrows, slashing
demons, and shooting explosive tumors. The burning trash cans in the
alley can also be exploded.
37 - Looks like restarting the
mission erased my upgrades and style changes, because I'm back in
Trickster style. I guess that's so I can try using a different style or
buying different upgrades.
38 - Back in the bar again, slicing up stools and grabbing that shotgun.
- I've found that I can switch quickly between my pistols and shotgun
on the fly, canceling the reload time between shotgun blasts. Seems like
something worth exploiting to rack up damage faster.
40 - I'm
back in the Love Planet, fighting those quick demons. Shotgun blasts are
good for keeping them at bay, they tend to ignore the pistol shots. I
can swing around the pole and launch myself at enemies, that's kind of
cool. And a little kinky.
41 - And I'm dead, again. Thanks to the camera.
Alright, let's buy a Blue Orb this time. That extends my life bar. The
price of the item raises after I buy it. I guess each successive one
costs more. I decide to try Royal Guard style this time as well. Circle
now acts as a block button, and pressing it right as an enemy attacks
fills up a counterattack gauge.
43 - Can I counter the arrows?
Let's try. After a few unsuccessful attempts, it works. A circle near my
life bar is blinking. Apparently I can release built up counters into
an attack by targeting an enemy and pressing circle.
noticed that the quick, red demons dodge backwards before they lunge in
for the attack. I use the recognized pattern to counter an attack, and
unleash the stored power at him. It's a very short ranged, hand-to-hand
attack, but it kills the enemy immediately!45
- I still take
damage when I block, though not nearly as much. It's like chip damage in a
fighting game. That said, I'm down to half of my health now because of some
unsuccessful counter attempts. I head into the bar again and find the
- Back at the dreaded Love Planet. Let's see how I fare this time...47
- It's easy to miss with the counterattack, considering how close I
have to be to the enemy to unleash it. Objects in the environment
frequently get in the way as well.48
- Yes, I finally killed
them all! I'm liking this Royal Guard a lot. It's nice to have a block
button to reduce the damage taken, even if I can't counter every time. I
bust up some couches and such to grab some orbs and head out the
- There's all kinds of debris in the alley.
Dumpsters have red orbs in them. A trash can has green. Good things can be found in trash cans.50
- I head into a door at the side of the
alley. Secret Mission 1: The Exorcist. I have to kill all the enemies
within a time limit. I'm having a lot of trouble seeing approaching
- Secret Mission failed. I guess time ran out.
And I'm down to half health for the rest of the mission now. I guess
maybe those secret missions are a good reason to go back and replay
previous story missions. Maybe there's a reward for finishing it. One
that would be easier to get with later weapons.52
- I bust up a
statue in the alley and it gives me a fraction of a Blue Orb. I guess
three more will extend my health bar. I find another Blue Orb fragment
up on a balcony.53
- I found a Divinity Statue in this alley as
well. I can't save here, but I can upgrade my weapons, change my style,
change my equipment, and buy items. I grab a Vital Star S, which refills
a bit of health. The price goes up afterwards.54
- I decide to
buy the Stinger sword technique as well. It causes Dante to dash at an
enemy with a powerful stab attack. I can upgrade the attack another
time, but I don't have enough orbs.55
- The next room is called the "Ice Guardian's Chamber." I don't like the sound of that...56
- Cutscene: Dante walks up to an enormous Cerberus, trapped in ice. It
breaks free and warns Dante that mortals are forbidden and unworthy to
set foot in this land. Dante mocks the Cerberus, treating it like a
puppy, then gets ready to fight it.57
- A boss fight, now? Ugh,
after all that...anyway, I shoot its icy protection away from its three
heads and two exposed legs. Seems smart to stay away and just keep
shooting, it's probably got some powerful close-range attacks.58
- My pistols and shotgun barely chip away at its health bar, even after
dozens of shots from each. Still, I've managed to stay out of harm's
way so far, so maybe this is smart way to fight it.59
- Nope, it
just lunged out and hit me! I've got to use my healing item, which
refills less than half of my life. The ice reappears over the Cerberus,
protecting itself from my bullets. I break it off with some more
- I've made a decent dent in its health, but
I'm almost dead myself after a few swipes from the Cerberus. It summons
some icicles from the ceiling, which finish me off. A message pops up:
"Easy Mode is now selectable."
Way to rub it in.
First Hour SummaryMinutes to Action
moves: The cutscenes feature some of the most creative and over-the-top
fight choreography I've ever seen, in videogames or any other visual
medium. That stylish flair translates right into the gameplay as well,
with Dante's sword and gun combinations looking and feeling badass to
Video: The mix of gothic and urban slum settings
and styles makes for a gritty setting. It's a bit ugly up close, so
maybe that's why the camera is so restricting. The framerate never dips
with all the action on-screen, an important detail. Character models and
animations look quite good for a late PS2 game.
Dante's party boy one-liners sound like something the Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles would come up with once reptile puberty set in. And I mean
that in the best way possible. The gruff vocals and distorted guitars
give a rather cheesy metal vibe to the music, but it actually meshes
very well with Dante's corny swagger and the drab settings. Gunshots,
demon screams, and steel collisions sound fine.
Devil May Cry's combat has always garnered the utmost praise, and now I
feel like I'm starting to understand why. My fingers aren't fast enough
to make the most of the complex battle mechanics yet, but I feel like
I'm getting the hang of it.
What I didn't like
Camera shy: The camera is terrible at times. Enemies often lunge at Dante from off-screen with no warning at all.
thumbs: I'm still trying to wrap my head around the controls,
especially regarding the targeting system. I feel like I've got the
basics down, but this is very complicated in ways that I'm not sure it
should be. I suppose the complexity of combat might demand for some of
the odd decisions here.
Narrative: I'm not really drawn into the whole demon/human conflict right now. Neither is Dante, so that's kind of entertaining.
The game is tough, no bones about it. It's discouraging at times,
thanks to the inadequate camera angles, but not quite enraging.
Most time is spent slaying demon hordes, as it should be. Some light
puzzle elements show up as well. Cutscenes and light customization break
up the action, and it's all enjoyable. I'm expecting to retry missions
over and over again to make progress, but each one seems fairly short
thus far, so tedium hasn't really set in yet.
I keep playing?
Definitely. It's not perfect, but it's already
head-and-shoulders above almost every action game I can think of.
from beyond the First Hour
: I've since finished Devil May Cry 3 on
Normal difficulty, and it is indeed worthy of being crowned the king of
the "Extreme Action" genre that the original DMC created. The only
competition in my mind is Ninja Gaiden. Each has its strengths, and it's
tough for me to choose a favorite between the two. Someday I'll get
around to playing Devil May Cry's spiritual successor, Bayonetta. Maybe
I'll change my mind again then.
It's not all sunshine and
daisies in DMC's gothic horror landscape, though, as the camera never
quite feels perfect. A few boss fights in particular feature some of the
worst vantage points I've ever seen in a game, making for some
controller-smashing irritation. Once I grew more familiar with enemy
tendencies and Dante's own strengths and limitations, the
curiously-placed camera was rarely a nuisance. The camera is one of the
only blemishes I can find in this excellent package, however. If you enjoy action games but haven't strapped on Dante's belt...bra...thing
yet, you owe it to yourself to check out Devil May
Cry 3, no questions asked.
for the reboot, I'm taking a wait-and-see stance. I'm all for a new
artist's rendition on an established character, but I can't say I really
like what I've seen of DmC so far, especially compared to the current Dante. The one who tries so very hard to be that cocky dickwad 90s brand of cool, and I'm not sure if he's charming despite that or because of it. That said, Ninja Theory seems to be
sticking to its guns in the wake of fan criticism, and the game has
Capcom's blessing in its current form, so I'll definitely keep an eye on
it for the time being.