It’s been 10 years since the original hacked, slashed and literally punctured its way into the hearts of thousands of unsuspecting PS2 gamers and in the process, introduced a new gaming icon for the new millennium, Dante. The concept was simple, you adopt the role of Dante, a witty but arrogant devil hunter who possesses unique sword welding abilities, as well as being accompanied by his trusty Dual pistols, Ebony & Ivory, as he begins he’s new enterprising business as, well, a devil hunter (duh), and it’s not long before our rugged rocker acquires his first customer in the form of a mysterious blonde haired beauty known only as Trish. But this seemingly docile lady (yeah right) hides some pretty interesting skills, from her wide range of exquisite acrobatic skills, her tendencies for launching motorcycle’s at unsuspecting shopkeepers and to her incredibly huge…um…assets? Not to mention the fact that she bares a striking resemblance to Dante’s mother, which is admittedly, a little weird. After Dante proves himself worthy in the eyes of this rather unconventional individual and presumably, charging her for her rather unnecessary demolition of his establishment, he sets off to the nefarious Mallet Island, where he encounters legions of demons who are eagerly prepared to skewer our white-haired hero.
Ok, so the concept wasn’t as entirely simple as I previously stated, but who cares really? Devil May Cry was prominently about eccentric enemies you could pierce countless times, accelerated action so fast it makes F1 seem pedestrian. It was about head banging your way past foes due to the immense Heavy Metal soundtrack that reverberated whenever battles ensued, before you ruthlessly chop down another giant devil that made you feel immensely superior. Devil May Cry was just exhilarating fun, so where did it all go so wrong? How did one the PlayStation’s newest stars end up playing second fiddle to the likes of Kratos?
The original was, and in many a fans opinion, is the strongest in the series. It introduced a world of hellish creatures and rather contorted enemies that you could subdue, just by repeatedly hammering 2 buttons. But the gratification you felt from this very simplistic approach was strangely overwhelming, and it was this same sense of self-satisfaction that alluded it’s less than impressive sequel, DMC 2. Was it as bad as we all remembered? Or was it that we as fans, unjustly heaped too much expectation on Capcom to produce another hack and slash extravaganza? Ok, no, it was just total cack. For one, Dante was completely devoid of the same charisma, humour and personality that had charmed us in his first outing, and was replaced by a tiresome, formulaic persona that lacked any substance and presence. By altering one of the key elements of a popular character, your already alienating your fans, which is a HUGE mistake, but this wasnt the only problem. Dante was accompanied by a female partner who made as much of an impact on the DMC universe as a punch from Elmo, her name was….um….hm….Laura? No, that’s not right….Lara? No, that’s the other one, well whatever her name is, she was a frankly forgettable character. The gothic atmosphere that constantly unnerved you from the previous installment was completely nonexistent, enemies were poorly designed (not that anyone would remember), but most importantly, DMC 2 was boring. Somehow DMC 2 made escaping from a burning building, while being pursued by a mutated helicopter as mundane as a bus drive, dull (shame on you). The fact is, DMC 2 was completely misguided, and it wasnt just hindered by one or two overriding factors, but it had many aspects that contributed to its inevitable downfall, it was just a collective mess, and as the developer would acknowledge, a regrettable one, but one they rectified in the 3rd.
Devil May Cry 3 is my personal highlight in the series. It reinvigorated the series with a much-needed injection of pace, fun and entertaining characters/villains, that completely eradicated the sour memory left by the aptly named #2. The younger and more arrogant Dante really helped push the game above the original by exploring more into the events that led to him becoming a devil hunter, coupled with the continuing rivalry between him and his more villainous brother, Virgil. The new female lead, Lady, was a welcome addition to the growing cast of DMC characters. Her Wiley nature, total loathing for demons, her complete disregard for Dante and her overwhelming desire to see both vanquished, made Lady a powerful, well, lady, (that and the cumbersome bazooka she somehow managed to drag around). DMC 3 was great in all the ways 2 was not, epic boss fights, the gothic look and feel of the original and the most engrossing combat in the series to date, I mean come on, where else will you see a topless, white follicle, devil hunter kill numerous foes with pool balls, whilst, consuming a slice of pizza?!
Devil May Cry 4 continued in the same direction as its predecessor, sort of. Although vast elements of the gameplay remained intact and the environments retained the same looks as in previous instalments, the game did falter in one respect, Nero. To me, it seemed completely irrelevant to introduce a protagonist who looks exactly the same as Dante, but with less of a personality, and with no explanation for this striking resemblance. For the majority of the game, Nero was an insufferable bore constantly shrieking KYRIE throughout his expansive journey, with as much charisma as a sloth in a drug induced coma. Sure Nero’s magical blue arm was impressive and made combat elements more intuitive and fun, but you couldn’t help yearning for Dante to arrive and lighten up the proceedings, it’s the equivalent of playing as Peter Parker when you could be playing as Spider-man. DMC 4 was also impeded by the repetitive boss battles, not boring, just repetitive, sometimes forcing you to defeat the same enemies 3 times! DMC 4 shouldn’t be regarded as the worst, but nor should it be considered as great, just satisfactory.
All in all, Devil May Cry has had turbulent history with an equal amount of highs and lows, and its due to the series inconsistencies that DMC isn’t as popular as it should’ve been, which is a shame. With the impending release of a new concept of DMC though, you do feel that the series is relying heavily on the success of this imagining, and we can only hope that this formerly great series can be salvaged *crosses fingers*.
PS. Don’t judge a game too harshly before you’ve played it. I’ll admit I’m not convinced that the new vision for Dante will work, but I’m more that happy to be proved wrong. Let’s give it a chance.
Click the link to watch some gameplay footage for the upcoming DMC and let me know what you think. Cheers.