Devil May Cry 3 Reviewwritten by Justin Leeper on Thursday, March 17, 2005
Pros: Over-the-top in nearly every respect; wide variety of combat tactics; the perfect definition of "action game."
Cons: Hard enough to make you cry; fixed camera angles aren't always the best; a bit ridiculous
Capcom's not one to drop too many balls. While Devil May Cry 2 may have suffered from a sophomore slump, you knew the company--and the franchise--would come back in a big way. After all, Dante never backs down from a challenge. The saying proves true: Three really is the magic number--as long as you're hardcore enough to stick with it.
Back in Time
Like many popular series, when the story can no longer move forward, it goes in reverse. Thus, we have a prequel. Devil May Cry 3 delves into Dante's past, and we learn about the rivalry between him and his twin brother, Vergil. These two don't go shopping on Melrose together like Mary-Kate and Ashley. Instead, they try to kill each other. The story plays a minute role in the overall experience, however, and merely serves to give opportunities for Dante to talk smack to other characters. No matter how corny it may be.
From the opening cutscene, you know you're in for a wild ride. Dante blasts billiard balls with his handguns, cuts up foes with their own blades embedded in his appendages, and cares more about his errant pizza than dispatching countless ghastly baddies. The budget a motion picture would need in order to pull off a fraction of this is likely a number Man has yet to conceive. Then again, most of the cutscenes are so silly; most movies would cut them, anyway.
Shoot, Cut, It's All in the Mind
When the action is in your hands, the spectacle doesn't lose an iota of intensity. The classic DMC slicing and blasting combo returns, but this time you get to tweak the mechanic. The multiple styles to choose from allow you to be a more defensive player, or dish out some extra swordplay techniques. Likewise, Dante comes across a bevy of other weapons, from shotguns to nunchukas. As usual, killing in style has its rewards, and it's not easy to find other games that do killing so well.
Be forewarned, however, that this is one of the most difficult games of this console generation. Those who played through Ninja Gaiden (or at least tried to play through it) have an idea of what that entails. Well, Devil May Cry 3 is even more difficult. There are two choices: complete the level or start it over. Enemies are far from pushovers, and the bosses are outright psychotic killing machines.
Dante buys orbs to refill health, but the price gets jacked up after each purchase. Not only will you be replaying the current level until you get it right, but you'll need to revisit conquered stages just to build up the blood (currency) to fund a successful pass--which you can thankfully do while on the current mission. Die enough times, and easy mode will mercifully become available. With 20 total missions, it's a massive undertaking-- ensuring no one will whine that it's too short. But they'll be begging for mercy over the difficulty.
While this high rate of difficulty may extinguish your desire to play the game, passing it up would be a foolish decision. Even in defeat, you're always learning new secrets, new routes, and new techniques. Later levels are designed so, once you know where to go and what to do, large chunks of time are shaved off--leaving you to perfect your killing craft. You'll suffer heartbreaking defeats, but rarely to the point of wanting to throw in the towel.
Tears of Joy
Devil May Cry 3's graphics are about as good as they get on the PlayStation 2. They haven't changed much from the first game, but the animation, environments, and monster designs won't leave you wanting. The trademark fixed camera allows for a little user control in some areas, which is a very welcome change.
Likewise, the audio makes your eardrums feel like they're ensconced in velvet. No action movie would be complete without a pumping soundtrack, and DMC 3 offers up the same. The original metal thrashings pump you up for the carnage ahead. Unlike other games that try this musical genre, you won't be reaching for the mute button. Sound effects are great as well.
Strictly for the Hardcore
Devil May Cry 3 joins Resident Evil 4 as Capcom's second excellent game it's released in 2005. It's nowhere near as groundbreaking or accessible as the impeccable RE4, but when you look at other PS2 action game releases this year like Tenchu or Nanobreaker you see just how far above average this game is. It's not for everyone, but Devil May Cry 3 will keep the hardcore players tossing their controllers for days.