While Ninja Theory have been working on the series reboot, Capcom have worked on giving Devil May Cry fans a high-definition ‘remastering’ of the three games in the series from a generation past and a chance to once again take control of Dante, son of a demon and mercenary for hire.
There’s definitely a story here but Capcom seem content to just let shit happen with minimal cause to explain why: as you progress from mission to mission crazy things go down but you’re either too busy swearing furiously at the screen for one reason or another or swept up in the frenzied chaos of it all to really pay attention to the narrative insanity. No boss fight can be premeditated, no enemy predictable in their design; the only guarantee in these games is that you’ll soon find yourself combat rolling from place to place trying to whittle down the time between fights, because that’s where the games get good.
Perhaps it’s my weary next-generation conditioned brain that renders me near incapable of overlooking convenient plotting and focusing on solid gameplay, which Devil May Cry has the tendency to offer. Little to no care was given for the escapades of any of the leading cast in any of the games; Dante’s journey was incidental, his actions speaking far louder than any snappy one-liners or narration offered up in cutscenes. Devil May Cry has a broken up mission-to-mission structure that rewards you in a fashion befitting arcade booths and often provides snapshot-length missions that take but a few sword swings or abuse of the over-powered devil abilities to complete.
Did I mention that the special abilities/weapon system combination is wildly unbalanced? Your trusty guns and sword do some damage; the Devil Trigger ability which lets the player summon their inner devil and harness a hell of a lot of power does a significant amount of damage. The Devil Trigger gauge metre needs filling but that doesn’t take as long as it should when you’re slashing and shooting enemies to pass the time. The hardest difficulties do restrict the immense effectiveness of the ability thankfully, but good luck with completing the games on those with your controller and the wall nearest to you fully intact.
If you can avoid exploiting the special abilities and utilise your whole arsenal in a combo-appeasing manner, you may find playing the Devil May Cry games quite rewarding. The tongue-in-cheek humour accompanying the frenetic is often entertaining and does add extra exhilaration to each frantic mission. Shame the edges are as frayed as they are…
It’s difficult to admire the grandiose spectacle of it all when the camera has a mind of its own, prancing prattishly around like a coked-up Michael Bay feature cinematographer with an intense desire to match the balls-out intensity of the action. Bosses out-of-view with whiplash-inducing pans, brash angle changes forcing you to walk back into previous sections, lackadaisical consideration for where Dante is in relation to where his enemies are positioned; the camera often trails Dante in a manner befitting a camera crew trying desperately to film a particularly frenetic tennis match from the ball’s perspective.
Furthermore, there’s a place in hell reserved for the sound direction in these games, an abrasive amalgamation of chalkboard-agony SFX cobbled into one perpetual ear-molesting roar that has been disappointingly left unaltered. Add to that a similarly untouched 4:3 resolution pause menu in Devil May Cry, no HD touch-up to any of the proper cutscenes (that could really have benefited from this) and the strange design flaw of you having to exit the whole game to access another one of the three on the disc, and it makes you wonder. If Capcom were truly intent on reviving the original Devil May Cry games to do them the justice we’re told they deserve, why present something that alludes to a half-assed job?
I guess some would praise Capcom’s decision to leave the difficulty barriers alone also and try not to water down the package for gamers experienced the series with new eyes. The series built something of a reputation for providing a challenge and that’s one of the many things Capcom have left untouched in this HD remake; the reputation isn’t earned in the same way that Demon’s Souls or the original Ninja Gaiden games earned their notorieties mind, but swearing on your part comes included as standard and a fair bit of grinding is required to progress through levels. A game feature that increases the price of recovery items after purchase is a notably punishing one, especially poignant in the third Devil May Cry (a game regarded as one of the more difficult in existence).
Whatever there is to appreciate in this series can be found in the parts where the game finds a balance between difficult and rewarding. Hack-and-slash games do love to offer a challenge to welcoming players but Devil May Cry is occasionally a little liberal with the privilege and thrusts players recklessly into tough fights in small areas. The red orbs collected from corpses that act as currency are in decent supply but you’ll need a fair few to acquire the items needed at many points to sustain yourself. A bit of exploration could prove handy as you find items that’ll inevitably come in handy down the line.
I wouldn’t describe my own personal experience with Devil May Cry as enjoyable. The decision to spend time with a series I had little care for to begin with is one on reflection I wouldn’t recommend to others like myself. Capcom haven’t done a great restoration job here and being that I’d only advise nostalgia hunters to track this one down, I’d recommend sticking with the originals and stay clear of this unfaithful rush job.