It's hard now to remember, back in the grainy, sepia-toned days of 2001 when our steam-powered PS2s were all shiny and new, just how amazing the first Devil May Cry game was. Sure, you fought dead things, but you didn't have to turn in a tight circle like you did in Resident Evil. You carried a sword, but you could destroy enemies in a hail of bullets as well. You explored a gigantic castle, but you didn't have to wait ages for each room to load. In short, it took the clichZs of survival horror, threw them out of the window and replaced them with gameplay and graphics so slick and gorgeous, if they were our sisters we'd still want to fondle them. It was a true classic, reeking of sex and class. But our love turned sour when we played the sequel, which turned out to be little more than an empty echo of the original, rather than the amazing leap forward we'd dared to hope for.
And now we've played the third Devil May Cry. Played it until our delicate fingers have been rubbed raw through repeated gunning of the X button. Played it until our fragile, doe-like eyes have turned into swollen red orbs that weep pus and tears. In other words, we've played it quite a bit. And now we're going to tell you exactly what it's like. It's good news.
DEVIL OF A TIME
Devil May Cry 3 is a prequel to the events in game one. As the game starts out, Dante has no idea of his half-demon heritage and is about as magical as a bucket of onions. That's until his brother Virgil shows up. His evil brother Virgil, no less. Virgil's already adept at using the powers of darkness to get what he wants and he's not about to let any squawky sibling stop him. Fortunately for us, Dante gets wise to his 'special' powers straight away, gaining more and more abilities as the game progresses.
In gameplay terms, it means that this time around you get to choose how Dante fights. Because Dante doesn't know how to brawl at the start of the game, you develop his style as he learns his powers. There are four paths to go down: Gunslinger, Swordmaster, Trickster and Royal Guard. Essentially, you'll earn different special moves for each style and be able to play the game in markedly different ways. Intriguingly, Capcom is even tossing around the idea of adding more fighting styles, time permitting. Let's hope so.
And what fighting. The speed and style of the moves has left us feeling rather dazed. If you thought Dante was a bit tasty with his weapons before, prepare to be dazzled by the improvements on show here. For example, he can now surf on enemies' bodies while shooting at other attackers, and one of the most bizarre attacks comes courtesy of a magical guitar that belches down evil heavy metal lightning on nearby foes. Add in a set of kick-ass nunchukas and the usual sword-based upgrades and you've got a rack of weapons big enough to clear every demon out of Hell with. Combos are quite simply mindblowing. Even using the slower fighting styles, Dante whizzes around like a frog in a blender, spinning and cartwheeling around the battlefield in a way that would give the Prince of Persia a nasty headache. Yeah, he's still got it. The real question is, does anybody still care?