Naturally, the horde of supernatural scum you have to eliminate is both as grotesque and darkly fantastic as ever. There's a horrible satanic energy in the way these melted minions move and attack, more reminiscent of the original puppet demons from the first game than anything else. They're not the only thing that evokes the first game rather than the second. Some of the elements that really bugged us in Devil May Cry 2 have been tweaked or returned to their earlier versions. For instance, most of those massive environments are gone, replaced by more intimate settings. This may sound like a step back, but it's not. Devil May Cry 2 narked a lot of players by letting Dante get hit in the back by missile attacks from far-away enemies. That won't happen any more. Dante's back to fighting where he's always been happiest - with his back to the wall. It's hard to see from these pics, but the camera angle's been subtly altered too, so you can see enemies attacking you from behind.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
So is it all good? Well, we can't fault the hyperkinetic fighting or the over the top sense of style. (At one point Dante munches away on a slice of pizza while shooting demons through the head.) But it's still not clear if the new game can mimic the rich colours and velvet moods of the first title. The signs are promising, and if the designers keep plugging away we'll be hoping for great things. The environs of the first level - a demon-infested nightclub - look suitably gritty and there's been a definite technical improvement in the graphics too. Technical improvements don't mean everything to us, though. We'd rather have style and flair over real-time shadows anyday.
Anyway, it feels good to be back in Devil May Cry land. Especially as the story seems to be the usual patchwork of Euro demon-lore and Japanese cartoon insanity. The one character who stands out at the moment, aside from mad-as-trousers Virgil of course, is a lady. Called, um, Lady. She's a demon hunter who's vowed to exterminate every non-human being in her path. That includes silver-haired half-demons, naturally, so expect a climactic battle followed by some teamwork. You won't actually play as Lady, though, as it's all about the Dante action this time.
Oh, and we're not completely convinced by the soundtrack either. It's what we can charitably describe as 'hard rock'. The type usually favoured by Germans in poodle perms and leather jackets and, unsurprisingly, a small section of Japanese enthusiasts. But then that's what Devil May Cry 3 is aiming to be: the hard rock of videogames. So make the devil sign, start moshing and say after us, "Devil May Cry 3 hard rokkin non-shtoppin' crazy guitar choons yesshhh!" You knows it.
Devil May Cry 3 slices and dices its way onto PS2 in the winter