Friday, March 4, 2016

Review #305: Devil May Cry HD Collection

 A Devil never cries.
 If I had to say what the Devil May Cry franchise is all about, I'd say it's about a white haired half-demon dude that must defeat enemies, trying to score huge combos, in order to earn more red orbs and then use them upgrade his skills, all while traversing gothic locales. This collection bundles together the three first games in the franchise, the PS2 games, in one neat little package with a few bonus art pieces.

 Right off the bat, I have two small gripes with the package: A) You must unlock every difficulty setting, which isn't so bad, but seeing how most people are gonna be replaying these games, it would've been nice to have all difficulties from the get go. Mind you, I don't want the rewards, just the option to start off on the higher difficulties from the start. Which might be a bit silly for the uninitiated, since these games let you carry over your upgrades from difficulty to difficulty. Speaking of rewards, these games do an absolutely fantastic job with the difficulty settings, as clearing the game on each will unlock another difficulty setting and a new rewards, from costumes, to alternate character modes... if you don't mind replaying a game, these games will keep you busy. And hey, future playthroughs when you want to replay them, will yield new rewards if you dare play it on a higher difficulty!
 And my other issue is that there's no way to change games, or discs in the case of DMC 2, without exiting the game entirely.
 Devil May Cry 1 has aged, it has aged a lot. Originally meant to be Resident Evil 4, it shows a lot. The game follows the serious, but fun-loving Dante as he follows his mysterious client, Trish, to defeat Mundus. It's a silly story, with silly dialogue and silly delivery, but it's gameplay where the game shines.

 What made this game stand out from other action games was the focus on combos. Depending on how you timed your triangle presses, or which direction you held on the D-Pad, you'd unleash different attacks, tying them together into big combos, that could even end with you juggling your opponent and even following them up into the air. And you want to do big combos, since the better you do, the more red orbs enemies drop when defeated, which in turn can be used to get more moves or more health, and even healing items if needed. There's two different weapons, Alastor the sword and Ifrit the gauntlets, and both have widely different styles. There're also about 4 different fire-arms, while these don't contribute to the combo rating, you can use them to zone enemies, or alter your hang time on the air in order to avoid attacks. There's a decent amount of depth to the system.

 It's loads of fun, but it has aged, and it's mostly due to its Resident Evil roots. For instance, you can't shoot without first targeting an enemy, and there's fixed camera angles, lots of them. It's not unusual to come across enemy-infested areas with multiple angles that mess you up and your controls, as well as sometimes allowing for hits to come off-camera. For whatever reason, and its something that stuck throughout the series, the game is divided into missions. It's a bit weird since everything is interconnected, and you can actually backtrack, as a matter of fact, backtracking may sometimes find you into secret sub-missions!

 I heard that the game is supposed to be hard, but it ain't so. I mean, at the start of the game, Dante can only take very few hits, but when I went into the store, I found that most of the moveset upgrades were unappealing, so I mostly invested on health. Afterwards, I invested on a few moves, among them, 'Air Raid'. Air Raid absolutely wrecks bosses, if you get that ability there's no excuse for not finishing the game.
 8.0 out of 10

 Devil May Cry 2 gets a lot of undeserved flak. As a matter of fact, back when I was younger, I actually preferred this game to the first one! Anyways, chronologically speaking, this is the last game in the franchise, even after DMC 4, and it sees an even more serious Dante, but with the occasional cool moment, team up with Lucia, who is basically another take on the concept behind Trish, to take down a new bad guy. The story, what little there is, is forgettable. The game's gimmick is having two playable characters, Dante and Lucia(And Trish, if you finish the game on Hard with Dante. But that means finishing the game twice(Dante and Lucia) to unlock Hard, and then a third time with Dante on hard, and I just wasn't too keen on playing this game so much), but to be honest, both characters are basically the same. The weapons are different, the animations are different, but when it gets down to it, they are basically the same. Their levels are more or less the same as well, think Resident Evil 2 A scenario and B scenario, enemies and objects might be on different places, there might be an exclusive stage or two, and a few different bosses. Dante gets more 'missions', but both playthroughs last about 2:30 hours each.

 Here's the thing about DMC 2, most things have been simplified. There's a designated dodge button, that can be used to run on walls, shooting can be done without aiming and the such... but the combo system has suffered, there simply aren't as many moves as there were on the previous game. While DMC 1 had lots of tight corridors and mostly small areas, which facilitated combos, most areas in this game are huge, which makes maintaining combos a chore. This time around guns(And knives, in the case of Lucia) can be used to maintain, but not increase, a combo rank, so they are not altogether as bad as they used to be.

 A lot of people took issue with how easy this game is. I don't care how easy, or hard, a game is as long as it's fun. And that's where DMC 2's problem lies, it can be a bit boring at times. There's a particular stage, which both Lucia and Dante have to go through, in which you have to run around searching for four orbs. While enemies respawn indefinitely on designated zones. And as much as you enhance your weapons raw damage, it feels as if taking down enemies takes ages. It's not hard, it ain't, it just can get a bit... boring. And that has to do with the direction this game took: This is all style and no substance. The game looks fantastic, animations in particular are sublime. The way Dante and Lucia run, or run on walls, the way Lucia shoots her knives, everything about this game looks cool, but when you get into the nitty gritty, you discover that there isn't depth to the combat.

 Still, this is not a bad game. It's an average game, that can be a bit boring at times, but it can also be fun.
6.0 out of 10

 Devil May Cry 3, man oh man, Devil May Cry 3 is amazing. It takes the best bits from DMC 1(The combat, the level structures, the feel of the attacks, all its substance) and the best bits from DMC 2( Simplified controls, all its style) and delivers an amazing game. So far Dante has had two distinct personalities, well, now he's got a third, this time around he is a cheesecake. And the story is as unremarkable as before... but this time it's got style, man does it have style, if you think about it, everything that happens is rather silly... but it looks so cool that it keeps you invested. You want to follow these characters, this goofball Dante, his no-nonsense brother Vergil, the amazing Lady(Who's the best counterpart to Dante there's ever been, and unlike Bayonetta, she doesn't need to take off her clothes) and the mysterious Arkham. And finishing the game unlocks Vergil as a playable character, who is completely different from Dante, even though he gets the exact same levels(And gets to fight a red-coated version of himself!). It also boasts the most unlockables, with various costumes for both Vergil and Dante, this is a game that can keep you busy for a long, long time.

 So what does this game get so well: The combat. It's incredible. For starters, now there are styles, there's four to start with, and you unlock another two later down the game, and Vergil gets his own unique 7th Style. Styles basically affect how your circle button behaves, for example, Sword Master gives all your weapons new attacks, and as you level it up, because styles can level up, you get even more attacks by mixing the circle button and directions on the analog stick. Gunslinger gives your hand guns new abilities, and Tricksters lets you dodge or run on walls, like DMC 2. This adds a lot of depth to the game, and lets you play how you like to play. Me, I liked SwordMaster, since it greatly expanded on my comboability. Keep to things in mind, Styles can only be swapped before starting a mission or on a Save Point, plus, Dante gets six melee weapons and six guns, but he can only take two of each, which again, can only be swapped before a mission or on a savepoint.

 Speaking of weapons, every weapon gives Dante an entirely different moveset, and you can change between your two selected weapons in real time, even mid-combo. Vergil himself only gets three weapons, but he has all three of them at the same time, and even though he shares a weapon with Dante, the Beowulf, both characters use them in entirely different ways. As far as Dante goes, his moveset is now akin to the one in DMC 1, depending on your timing, and which direction you hold, your attacks will change, and this holds true for all six weapons. Vergil doesn't have as many variations(Timing doesn't affect his blows), but he deals waaay more damage than Dante.

 Alright, so the game keeps the fixed camera angles that plagued the previous games before it, but, you can actually rotate them on certain areas, and, the camera angles are much better this time around, not one time did I felt as if the camera angles screwed me over. Environments are smaller this time around as well, as to encourage comboing. And boy, is making combos fun. The combat system has so much depth, so many possibilities, between the Styles and each individual weapon. One thing that I thought was rather neat is that enemies will go down faster as you go through the game. But here's the thing, you can't upgrade a weapons raw damage, they go down faster because you, the player, learn how to make better combos, learn when and how to dodge. It feels great.

 Regarding the difficulty setting, it's just right. This is actually the rerelease, Devil May Cry 3 special, since Capcom thought it'd be funny to make the Japanese 'Hard' our 'Normal' on their first release. Y'know, the difficulty setting that you unlock after beating the game, and on which you can bring over your strengthened character? Yeah, fun times. But regardless, this is not that version, Normal is Normal here. And look, many bosses actually took me down the first time, but that first time was enough for me to learn and take'em out on the second try. Oh, mind you, there're two ways to play, 'Gold', which has a ton of checkpoints, and 'Yellow', in which death means restarting the entire level. I played on Gold, but even then, if you need even more help, you can always buy healing items.

 It's hard for me to convey just how good Devil May Cry 3 is. Everything it sets out to do, it nails right on the heard.
 9.0 out of 10

 Basically, Devil May Cry HD Collection is a fantastic way to re-experience all three games. If you already own them on PS2, there's no need to get this version, as the new 'extras' are rather lame. One last piece of advise: Don't play them in chronological order. As that would mean going to DMC 1 after DMC 3, and... yeah, it's gonna be hard to get used to. It's not like the story is particularly good anyways as to warrant a 'chronological playthrough'.
 9.0 out of 10

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