It�s about time somebody did something about the wasteland that has come to be known as the "survival horror" genre, which thus far has consisted of nothing but a hundred new masks painted over the old, tired Resident Evil mold. And who better to break this mold than Capcom, who created RE in the first place? Devil May Cry may be called a survival horror game, but it would be quite a mistake to place it in the same class as Dino Crisis, Silent Hill or Blue Stinger; it far outclasses any of these titles that have come before.
Devil May Cry seems to owe as much of its existence to the film adaptation of Blade as it does to Resident Evil, and this is partially due to Capcom�s choice of main characters. Dante, the hero of DMC�s story, is a half-demon who employs a visually impressive combination of sword-arts and gunplay to exterminate the demons who threaten the human world. This strikes quite a chord of similarity with Blade�s half-vampiric warrior who uses similar fighting techniques against a horde of blood-suckers determined to rule all. But the similarities only begin there--Devil May Cry also employs many camera techniques culled from Blade as well as other recent action films to add to its visual excitement, and its techno-gothic soundtrack is also reminiscent of Blade�s. On the one hand, this all contributes to the alluring dark ambience that gives Devil May Cry much of its appeal, but on the other hand, the adoption of so many aspects of that film in particular can make that selfsame ambience seem somewhat cheap and derivative.
Rather than a straight, linear story as in previous survival horror games, progress through Devil May Cry is made by completing a series of objectives in mission format. The objectives are fairly simple--locate a key item; find a certain map point--eliminating the emphasis of previous titles on contrived puzzles that made little sense in "real world" terms. There is still some puzzle solving here, but most of it appears as the formation of strategies in the heat of battle, i.e., "If I can�t fight this monster directly, what else can I do to defeat him?"
DMC�s control is always responsive and accurate, which is an absolute necessity for this type of game. Dante�s movement control leans toward the more analog-friendly schematics of modern 3D adventures rather than the clunky standard Resident Evil control schemes, allowing for a much more seamless and user-friendly experience. There is, however, a steep learning curve involved in learning to use Dante�s advanced techniques, and the enemies can be brutally unforgiving even in the first mission. An �Easy Automatic� mode is made available if certain triggers tell the game that a player needs it, but it should be noted that none of the game�s secret items and characters can be unlocked in this mode.
Additionally, a few issues do arise with regard to DMC�s button scheme; one wonders, for example, why two separate buttons were assigned for the gun and sword when the player must hold down the R1 button in order to use the gun anyway, and having these buttons pre-assigned leaves the jump function awkwardly assigned to Triangle with no option to rearrange it or any of the other buttons to a more comfortable configuration.
Dante�s arsenal of guns and swords are perfectly balanced and designed to work in tandem with each other. In order for him to fight at his top efficiency, it is necessary for Dante to use both his guns and his sword techniques in concert with each other. These techniques are executed via basic fighting game button/stick combos, and new abilities, as well as restoration and power-up items, must be purchased using Red Orbs obtained from slain enemies. And, like the currency of any game (or in real life, for that matter), there never seems to be enough for what one wants or needs. This is by no means an easy game, although an experienced player might be able to complete it in a single sitting. But players will have to work hard just to finish the game, much less get an "A" or "S" ranking--it takes skill, as well as raw perseverance, to reach the game�s ultimate end.
Devil May Cry's story elements often take a backseat to raw, pulse-pounding action, but when these action sequences are done so well, that�s really less of a shortcoming than it might seem to be. Above all else, this game is spooky, stylish and most importantly, fun from beginning to end. But more than just a great game in itself, Devil May Cry also represents the fact that Capcom and other developers are finally beginning to understand how to make efficient use of the PS2's complex hardware, and will be able to start pushing the system's limits even further in the months ahead.