A Devil never cries.
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.
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
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
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