The undisputed king of PS2 frenetic-paced action titles without a doubt sits squarely with Capcom’s legendary 2005 release, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening which exploded on the scene and left millions of frustrated gamers on an complete adrenaline rush. One year later and Capcom decides to treat us all by releasing Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening – Special Edition which features a whole lot of new extras plus the chance to play with Dante’s rogue brother Vergil as a main playable character (and at budget price just to make the deal so much sweeter to boot).
Devil May Cry 3 is best described as frantic-paced, high-energy metal that sees you controlling the brash and arrogant Dante, half human and half demon, devil hunter and detective as he attempts to stop his brother’s insane plan of bringing the demon world to Earth while at the same time cut his way through half of Hell itself just to do it. The focus of the game is on unrelenting action and sees you tackle hordes of demons with a wide variety of weapons (both melee and ranged), all instantaneously switchable mid combo just for the hell of it!
The action and fighting is about as fluid as you can get and combined with the upgradeable move set for the various fighting ‘styles’ that you can employ makes for a pretty deep combat experience. There are a number of very detailed and finely connected levels to make you way through, usually battling scores of demons just to get to the other side where you are more often than not presented with some or other fiendishly difficult boss battle to deal with. There are one or two annoying puzzles you get stuck with, a little backtracking and a few infuriating Fight Adjudicators to deal with, but other than those, it is pretty much gun-blazing, sword-slashing action through the good number of hours it will take you to beat this game.
On the story-telling side of things, Devil May Cry 3 has one of those epics stories that reels you in and is jam-packed with intrigue, twists and poignancy and in the end makes for one of those games that stand as tall on the story that they deliver as on the game play that they dish out.
Visually, Devil May Cry 3 comes out on top with extremely detailed and moody backgrounds, fixed cinematic camera angles and extremely stylish and fluid movement animations. The environments themselves although confined in one building are so diverse and styled that you never ever seem to get bored or tired of your surroundings – not that you notice them all that much with the non-stop action flowing around you anyway!
The game is also literally littered with breathtaking cutscenes that makes full use of the exciting Asian choreography and special techniques that makes so many Hong Kong and Japanese action movies stand out above traditional Western offerings.
Of course, even with all the breathtakingly designed characters and backgrounds and the non-stop button mashing, the true genius behind the frenzy that is Devil May Cry 3 is the extremely cleverly picked hard rock/metal soundtrack and scintillating sound effects that propel the pace of the game to a new level. The extreme energy and aggression that comes from the soundtrack is enough to get any gamer’s adrenaline flowing and this heightened aggression is what makes Devil May Cry 3 an even more action-packed adventure that what it should perhaps be.
Another reason for Devil May Cry 3’s massive popularity is its legendary difficulty that was guaranteed to put even the most ardent of gamers through their paces and leave you with a sense of owning the world should you ever actually beat the damn game! Funnily enough, the main reason for this was the rather strange decision to set the initial American release’s normal difficulty level to the Japanese release’s difficult setting and the easy setting became the Japanese’s equivalent normal setting.
For better or worse, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition sets the difficulty level back to the normal setting it was originally meant to be on, meaning that many who haven’t played the original will be left wondering as to why Devil May Cry 3 used to be hailed as one of the most difficult games to get through. Although this reduced difficulty doesn’t take much away from the game as a whole, it does become slightly less rewarding for gamers who clocked the original but thankfully there is still enough added bonuses and extras to make old gamers come back for more.
First off, the most touted extra feature is the ability to play through the game as Vergil, complete with his own set of upgradeable moves and styles. As cool as it is to play with this new character, you can’t help but feel a little cheated when you realise the developer have done nothing more than create the new character and generate his new moves set but then simply tack him into the game and strip the cutscenes to make the story more or less move forward. And if you think you are going to finish the game by fighting against Dante, think again – you’ll simply be fighting a differently coloured clone of yourself I’m afraid.
Secondly, we get a new boss battle tossed into the mix, this time a fight against Jester, though this boss battle is a lot more forgiving than the original bosses that you still need to mix it up against. You do however get to experience this new fight a whole three times during the game, increasing in difficulty with each encounter.
Another major change that has been implemented has quite an effect on the frustration that was the original version, namely the continue system. In the original you needed to buy yellow orbs which could be used to continue with on death, but these orbs quickly became prohibitedly expensive and you pretty much had to replay level after level simply because the tough boss at the end of it wasn’t going to let you have your own way. This time around you can set it that you have unlimited continues which makes for a far smoother and less frustrating trip through to the final battle, something that goes a long way in making this game more accessible to casual gamers.
And then there is all the other bonus material of course. Tons and tons of images to view, alternative costumes, video theatre and soundtrack material to unlock plus a little extra in the form of the Blood Palace, a 9 999 level big play area which pits you in endless combat and is best suited to those DMC3 professionals that want to squeeze the most out of the game.
Overall, the reduced difficulty level and infinites continues structure lessons the impact of this classic title ever so slightly, reducing the personal reward gained in clocking it, however it does make it far more inviting to players new to the Devil May Cry 3 mythos and remains as worthy an action title as what it ever has been. If you are looking for non-stop, heart-pounding action featuring some of the most breathtaking cutscene choreography ever devised combined with some of the toughest boss battles out there, you really can’t go wrong by picking up this legendary title. And at the price it is going for, you would really have to kick yourself if you miss out!