It comes with great relief that rather than choosing to continue milking a popular yet increasingly unoriginal genre, Capcom, with their new baby, Devil May Cry (which began life as Resident Evil 4, until producer Shinji Mikami decided that the game should be a new entity as opposed to a mere sequel) have advanced the survival horror genre to a welcome new degree.
Playing as silver-haired, red trenchcoat wearing Dante (owner of Devil May Cry, a detective agency specialising in the supernatural), who is human but possesses demonic blood (meaning he is far stronger physically than the average man), you are hired by the blonde gothic babe Trish to rid a beautiful but demon ridden castle of the paranormal ‘underworld’ (i.e.-the forces of hell).In true PS2 style, the game’s backdrops are in full 3D, in a similar guise to Resident Evil Code Veronica (PS2/Dreamcast) and contrasting the pre-rendering used in Onimusha and the PS1/Gamecube Resident Evil games, and the aesthetics of the game are incredible overall, especially when considered the size of some of the environments explored. The full 3D graphics also means the camera angles are far superior to those in the pre-rendered games, and although the camera isn’t perfect all the time in DMC, it has almost removed one of the blights which usually lets down its contemporaries. Lighting effects are another graphical wonder of the game as they are marvellously realised throughout it.
A further strong point is the lead character. Dante is an extremely slick, cool and undeniably likeable character-he’s almost like a gothic 007 in many ways! Dante is an extremely agile guy, with the ability to jump up walls, do jumping attacks on enemies and practically fall from any height without damage. His combat skills are even more impressive-whether using his sword, specialist made handguns, or even shotguns and grenade launchers, he is one major SOB as he deals out death to the huge variety of underworld minions lurking in the castle.Combat is the main feature of the game, and you will yourself almost constantly in battle. This of course is no bad thing, as the variety of enemies makes it never repetitive, and the fact that your ammo stocks never run out never make it necessary to avoid fights due to lack of bullets. The action is also of a much faster pace than RE, so as a result the precision aiming needed to bring down zombies in RE has been replaced with a rather nifty lock on system. The inclusion of being able to upgrade your skills and weaponry using points accumulated in the levels (normally derived from red orbs released by dead enemies) also gives the game a slight but welcome RPG element as choosing whether or not to enhance yourself and which enhancements to get can make the game easier or more difficult for you. Above all though it just adds to the variation in the entire game.
Survival horror purists may seem put off at first by the game-its fast pace and unlimited munitions does mean it loses much of the tension present in many similar examples of the genre, yet I personally believe that Shinji Mikami has replaced it with something even better- almost non-stop adrenalin inducing action. There are some puzzles in DMC, but they aren’t as taxing as the ones found in RE/Onimusha and involve less backtracking. Perhaps it is inaccurate to label DMC as survival horror in some ways because despite many similarities with RE/Dino Crisis and so on, the gameplay does significantly differ.
The variety of enemies is another plus point. From a huge dark knight to blade wielding puppets to giant crows and spiders to the supreme God of the underworld, the types of hostiles is immensely different and adds a lot into ensuring that the ongoing combat doesn’t tire quickly. There are also some brilliantly implemented mini-sections in the game, such as some excellent first person swimming scenes where Dante is armed with an arrow gun, as well as an ace space harrier type battle with the underworld’s God towards the end which sees Dante in mid air (Or space as the game seems to convey), and perhaps best of all, the final part of the game sees Dante having to escape from the castle through caves using a plane (think Afterburner!)
Sound should not be ignored either. The sound effects, especially that of the weapons and the enemy witches is incredible, and for once in a survival horror game, the voice acting has been done to a good standard. No Resident Evil style voice botch up here sir. The music is a mix of eerie gothic background tunes while Dante is exploring and harsh industrial rock/metal when he comes into a battle encounter. As a great fan of bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Fear Factory and Rammstein, I have to admit that DMC’s soundtrack really impresses.Perhaps the only criticism I can really pick on is that the game isn’t particularly hard and although it is by no means a short game, it isn’t difficult to beat. Whether you want to replay it really depends on how much you liked the action the first time you went through it. I have enjoyed replaying it several times simply because I absolutely love the quality gaming that DMC offers, and also basically because I’m a junkie for 3rd person action adventures. More casual fans of the genre though may be content with just playing it through once. Whatever camp you sit in though, this comes very highly recommended as it is one of the greatest examples of the genre, and it is without doubt one of Capcom’s finest efforts to date. As the game is now on Platinum (£19.99) and even cheaper 2nd hand, you really don’t have an excuse now do you?
Price: £5-10 second-hand.
Score: 5 out of 5.