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April 01, 2005

Review: Devil May Cry - Capcom ushers in a new breed of hero

VGP Score


9.3


"So, you must be the handy man who'd take any dirty job... Am I correct?"

Yes, its a daunting task to try and create something unique and 100% original. Capcom's first step over the threshold of the Playstation 2, is different to say the least.

"You're the man who lost his mother and brother to Evil 20 years ago, the son of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda, Mister Dante..."

Dante is who we refer to as, a badass. Everything about him just wreaks of hardcore heavy metal, demon slaying vigor. He doesn't squint when looked straight in eye by fear itself, and he draws on every opportunity to show the demon world what he's made of. Perhaps its his undying lust to learn about his past and his forgotten memories, or maybe it's his unwavering arrogance that gives him that "I'm pissed, but I ain't gonna show it" badassitude, but Dante is possibly the most original character to hit the Playstation 2 scene, and its no suprise that Capcom went all out to flesh out Dante's personality and appearance. Ostensibly Dante is loosely based off of popular anime characters, but his personality is home grown cool.

Dante's mother was murdered by the prince of darkness, Mundus, and he seems to be have developed a complex out of hatred for his brother, Vergil. It's Dante's goal to uncover the mystery behind his families tragedy, and take revenge for the sins committed against them. I know you're thinking, "What? That's not the description of a protagonist, its a widely stereotypical and cliche motive for villains who want to 'take over the world'!" Well, you'd be partially right, but it's been brilliantly manipulated into something so passionate and maternally heart warming, that it's almost worthy for getting choked up over.

Dante's past eventually meets up with him, when he comes face to face with his dark lineage, through the blood of his father Sparda: a Demon who once took on the underworld single handedly. A solemn fighter with a noble cause followed with a decent back story, this leads one to understand what sets this game apart from most other mindless action shoot-em-ups.

"For the way I figure it, in this business, a lot of your enemies come along. If I kill each one that comes, I should hit the jackpot sooner or later."

There certainly is a lot to look at in this game. The basic enemies are called "marionettes". Though basic in appearance, the vast range of different marionettes - some equipped with sickle blades, scythes, daggers, small swords and even shotguns - is staggering to say the least. The combat is fast, and the enemies are even faster. These different types of enemies will force the gamer to take strategy into consideration when taking on these armies of the underworld.

Other types of enemies include "Blades" and "Sargasso" among many others, and each requires different angles of attack, and suprisingly the battle never gets repetitive, and is actually paced quite nicely. Bosses are also one of the games high points, since it's never a dull moment when facing off against the minions of Mundus. (From what I gather, Mundus is the equivalent of what we commonly refer to as "Satan", or in other words, the ultimate evil.) To kick things off, you'll come toe to toe with a giant scorpion-spider hybrid with magma is place of icor known as Phantom. Ruggishly freaky, this petrified lava demon is no push over, though the game does an excellent job of pumping you up for the battles to come, so not to discourage you from having to take on these bosses, since 4/5 boss fights, will be against a creature anywhere from 3 - 5 times your size.

The rest of the game is no different. You'll eventually face off against a giant Falcon-esque demon known as "Griffon", who inevitably, also falls at the hand of Dante and his wildly cocky "not gonna take it" demeanor. Nelo Angelo and Nightmare round off the cast of freakish bosses, which obviously leads up to one final confrontation with the final boss. Each of these bosses put up a decent fight, and each requires a different strategy from the last, which is what makes this game so appealing. The integration of different weapons and "devil arms" into everything you do is just so well executed.

"Are you really the son of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda? Didn't your daddy teach you how to use swords?"

Dante's arsenal grows as the game progresses. You begin the game with your basic sword, the Force Edge, and two hand guns known as "Ebony and Ivory". The melee weapons are known as "devil arms", and you obtain more as the game goes on. You'll gain another sword known as "Alastor" and a pair of devastatingly powerful gantlets called "Ifrit". The swordplay in the game is very free form (and very very fast). The basic sword combos, though easy to pull off will not let you coast through the entire game. You can cancel any combo at any given moment using the "dodge" command, and pick up with a brand new combo as soon as you're back on your feet. In essence, its almost "create a combo" swordplay. Since you can constantly slash, dodge, slash dodge, you could theoretically take out an entire horde of enemies in one single flurry of sword swipes.

"Even as a child, I had powers. There's demonic blood in me."

As far as Dante takes the "badass" moniker in his normal state, he ups it one more level with his "Devil Trigger". Assuming the powers of enchanted weapons like Alastor, Ifrit and even Sparda, Dante can change his appearance to become "demonized", by hitting the devil trigger. In this state, Dante's abilities are increased ten fold, depending on what type of devil arm he has equipped. Alastor gives Dante the ability to attack with lighting/thunder based elemental spells, as well gives him the power of hyper speed and ultra fast reflexes. Ifrit empowers him with fire which allows him to let loose with a 'Dante's inferno" of spells and attacks. His hand to hand combat becomes much faster, and again, strength is increased even higher. The Devil Trigger is not the bread an butter of the game however. It's a last resort when backed against a wall and you need to do some massive damage - just to get some small amount of breathing room. The Devil Trigger is short lived, and should be used sparingly, as the number of "Runes" you have will decrease the longer you sustain your demon form. Killing enemies with melee and long range attacks will refill them, allowing the process to be repeated ad nauseum.

"He is attempting to gain control of the human world... once again. He has been preparing to open the Gate on Mallet Island."

Mallet Island is also home to a gorgeous castle, which actually fits the medievil typecast of Devil May Cry. The environments are fairly tight fit, which enforces the need for close quarters combat, and allows for some interesting combos including the juggling back and forth of enemies, which can exceed 10 at any given time in one area. The attention to detail is dazzling, as flags and curtains move with wind fluttering fluidity, and the stone walls are further emphasized with ornate statues, doorways, book casings and stairwells. From the deepest dungeon to highest peak, the ambiance this game offers is off the charts. You will never once forget that this is the black widow of castles; it's beauty is insurmountable but is completely hostile, and the enemy can be anywhere.

Dante himself isn't too hard on the eyes either. His motion capture is smooth, and so is his character model. The stunning graphical appeal of Dante, Trish, and the other cast of...er..."characters", is very impressive, even if DMC is a first generation Ps2 title. This game has something I wish a lot of games had, and it's unique visual charm.

"You have the face but You'll Neer Have Her Fire!"

Devil May Cry features one of the more unique soundtracks to grace a console. Brandishing a wide array of techno-death metal and hybrid tunes, evocative of Pantera and remindful of Poison, Devil May Cry's soundtrack appeals to that certain type of gamer. The must gets the heart pumping, and acts as a veritable "psyching" agent to prepare for battle.

"I should have been the one to fill your dark soul with light!!!!"

Devil May Cry shines a whole new light upon the action/adventure genre, with interesting gunplay, mixed with fast paced melee swordsmanship, and some of the most notable and memorable boss fights since "One Winged Angel" or the monstrous Ganon. Dante makes this game shine, and his badassery can only make you say one thing..."I'm not worthy!".

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