Hello, all! Last week, we took a slow-motion trip through a film noir love story.
This week, we crank things up a notch with a PS2 classic that helped reinvent action games. But does it hold up today?
Devil May Cry came out for the PS2 waaaay back in 2001 (!). As you all probably know, you play as Dante. Dante is a private investigator of sorts, who investigates paranormal cases. That's a fancy way of saying Dante kills demons. A girl names Trish attacks Dante, which leads to Dante exploring the castle that makes up the game environment. What that means for you is, you get to fight all sorts of enemies, like marionettes, and solve some puzzles, and generally do a lot of ass-kicking.
What we take for granted in games like Bayonetta, God of War, and hell, even future Devil May Cry titles, this game did first. What many don't notice these days is Devil May Cry's simple yet effective control scheme, in which there's generally one button for one task. Sounds pretty basic when you think about it, but then I think about games like Darksiders. Which I loved, but the game's controls twisted your fingers in knots.
Devil May Cry, though, didn't have a complex inventory, multiple inputs for one action, or cluttered combat. To clear up: it had elegant combat, not cluttered combat. There's a difference. Devil May Cry plays as a sort of old-school action title; namely, you walk into a room and you're barred from further progress until you wipe out every enemy in the room. As Dante is it son of Sparda, a demon, he's quite powerful, and more than ready to face the crazy amount of demons inhabiting Mundus' castle. You're of course armed with Dante's signature infinite ammo dual pistols and a sword. Later on, you get other weapons that all serve a purpose.
It's well known that Devil May Cry started as a Resident Evil title, and some of that is evident in the design, like the fixed camera angles, for instance. This would later become standard for action games like this (see God of War). Here, in the first Devil May Cry, it generally works, save for the awkward blind jump here and there. But it's that camera that's so innovative here, as it lets you see most of the action and react accordingly. It's really probably the first game that both cast you as a badass and made you feel like one.
You've got a decent variety of combat options available to you at the start of the game, with more moves available to unlock as you collect Red Orbs from downed enemies, in a sort of "RPG-lite" system. It's cool to (almost) constantly evolve throughout the whole game. Keep in mind, we take this for granted these days, but this kind of combat variety wasn't the norm back then.
(Apologies for the HD Collection branding. Finding screenshots for this game is surprisingly annoying.)
Also of note is the ranking system, which rates your combos; by which I mean, it rates the variety of your combos and ability to avoid taking damage. I'm a big fan of this; ranking systems encourage you to do the best you can in any given game. Do you realize there's no real point to scoring headshots in Call of Duty, for instance? In Devil May Cry, though, you had incentive (namely, more Red Orbs and the warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing "S-Rank" on the screen) to do better.
So. After all that, though, does the original Devil May Cry hold up today?
The problem with the original game is, while I've established the game's innovation and uniqueness, Devil May Cry is a whopping thirteen years old. It's been outpaced by it's own sequel, Devil May Cry 3, which took the first game's ideas and damn near perfected them. That's, of course, no fault of the first game itself. But nowadays, while the first game still kind of holds up, it's a little stiff. Dante does what you want him to do at any given time, but to me, he seems a little sluggish in comparison with later titles. Dante's almost-completely-vertical jump still bugs me with regards to the light platforming you have to do.
One thing I appreciated during my playthrough, however: Devil May Cry's default difficulty is perfect. Known for being a challenging series, the first game is tough enough to be called difficult without being called cheap or unfair. It provides a sweet spot in terms of challenge; it's tough enough to be fun, but not so tough your controller ends up lodged in the TV. That's something they lost in later titles, unfortunately, what with Devil May Cry 2 being laughably easy, and 3 being just ridiculous. 4 and the reboot were close, but too much on the easy side. This game nailed it.
It's blockier than I remember (for this playthrough, I played the original PS2 version), but Devil May Cry still looks pretty good. It's a strong Gothic art style that I enjoy. Sounds pretty good, too, with some fitting organ music mixed with heavy rock/metal tunes to compliment the action onscreen. I like Devil May Cry's music, but I've never been crazy about it. Still, it fits, and that's what matters.
The game plays just fine on the HD Collection (I have the PS3 version-full disclosure), so check it out. Like I said, this first title in the series is coated in a fine layer of rust these days, but in the end, it's a title that's not to be missed. One of my favorite series, that I hope can return to its glory days. Something along the lines of 3 (vastly varied combat, weapons) mixed with a couple good ideas the reboot had (multiple environments, slightly more humanized Dante) would be amazing, if you think about it.
Or, again, just play this one.
Thanks for reading! Hit the comments section! Suggest future Games of The Week! And Tweet at me about anything @WingZero351
Next week-let's keep the Gothic theme going. Let's revisit one of my Top 10 games. This one also takes place in a castle, wherein we find the answer to that question of questions: "What is a man?"