Style and powerful combos – it’s something that’s followed the Devil May Cry franchise since it launched on the PS2 in the early 2000s. Move on to 2018 and what we have here is what we can expect from the world of gaming we live in today – a remaster of a remaster. There’s no doubt that Dante would scoff at the thought of being re-launched as an afterthought, but here he is in his first three games. Again.
Is the Devil May Cry series still fresh in your mind? Could it be that you played it on the PS3 just a few years ago? Devil May Cry HD Collection is that exact same game, it’s just that it’s been every so slightly “improved” for the current generation. The world today is a very different place to what it was in 2001 when we first saw Dante’s leaping through the air slaying all forms of monstrosities. However, surprisingly it’s still that very first game that comes with the most substance and it makes good sense. It came from Hideki Kamiya who transformed this unique experience from what was originally going to be the next Resident Evil game. With that, a beloved cult classic was born, but some cracks are starting to appear.
The emphasis of the first outing was placed on missions, combos, boss battles and over-the-top action. What you have here is very much a prelude to what Bayonetta would ultimately end up perfecting. Combos reward you by grading your style. It starts will ‘Dull’ and moves on to ‘Bravo’ and later ‘Stylish’. Yes, basically a D,C,B,A and S ranking. Be stylish enough and you’re rewarded with red orbs to upgrade your various weapons. Slashing away at foes won’t just provide you with those red orbs, but you’ll also increase your Demonic Trigger meter. Tap L1 and Dante transforms into a super version of himself that causes big damage. It’s recommended that you hold on to these for those pesky boss battles. Overall Devil May Cry has aged very well when it comes to the pure joy of playing the game, but that can’t be said for the graphics.
The less I say about the sequel, the better.
By increasing the quality of the textures you’re left with a game that shows you its flaws. You can pinpoint where something wasn’t quite as polished as it should be. A particular texture that would be hidden on a CRT display back on the PS2 now stands out like a sore ugly thumb. There is a bigger culprit in the form of the CG cutscenes. Whenever CG kicks in you best be prepared for a pixelated video from 1953. No work has been done to the CG and you’re basically watching a PS2 video made for old-school televisions on your 4K 60″ TV – destroying one retina at a time. As terrible as that is it still does not meet the lows of the sequel. Devil May Cry 2 is as bad today as it was back in 2003.
As before players can play as Dante or, a newcomer, a lady named Lucia. The combo system returns but there is one glaring issue – the game is as bland as can be. Instead of invading an interesting castle with secrets Dante or Lucia travels the streets of an urban environment where you’ll come face-to-face with terrifying demons like… helicopters and tanks. To top this setback of poor opponents the fighting system feels slow and a big step back from what you would have experienced in the first game. There is a bigger emphasis on puzzle solving, but it’s so lacklustre that it becomes more of a hindrance than anything else. The less I say about the sequel, the better. Thankfully the new director, that tarnished the Devil May Cry name with this sequel had another trick up his sleeve as Devil May Cry 3 is where Dante goes full demon.
What you have here is the Special Edition that originally launched on the PS2 in 2006. Everything that made the original such a dream to play was recaptured and improved on. Combos are more stylish than ever and Dante has an attitude to go along with the introduction of playing as his twin brother for the first time, Vergil. Unlike before, where you were forced to play in a particular style, you have the option to decide on a combat style that works for you. Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger and Royalguard are the four styles on offer and can be switched up mid-game if you feel you need to try a new approach to one of the many (and awesome) boss battles. Red Orbs are still used as a currency to buy new to upgrade action to help you improve your various combo techniques.
Those with demonic rose-tinted glasses will still find something worth loving.
I must say that I found the upgrades expensive in DMC3. The decision of upgrading a weapon instead of buying important items to help you progress is something that’ll leave you with a few mental battles. Enemies are a little more ruthless this time and take skill to beat. Should a door be sealed with a red sheen it means you have foes to beat, if it’s blue you have a puzzle to solve. Devil May Cry 3 is just a much more polished and structured experience that is fun to play and, when compared to the first two games, have aged with much more grace in terms of its graphical presentation.
Is Devil May Cry: HD Collection worthy of your money in 2018? It depends on how much of a fan you are of Dante. Those new to the series will have a hard time grasping what all the fuss is about as the presentation is still stuck in the 2000s and is miles behind something like Bayonetta. There’s a gallery to unlock some art, but that’s as ‘bonus’ as you’ll get. Those with demonic rose-tinted glasses will still find something worth loving, but the PS4 is definitely worthy of something better made for a modern era of demon slaying.