Friday 21 July 2006
Fact: if you haven't played Devil May Cry 3, you don't understand how hard it is. You might think you know - you might even have had a chuckle at people who complain about it - but you just don't get it. DMC was that special sort of hard that doesn't care about focus-testing or everyone seeing all the beautifully-designed later levels.
Don't get us wrong, compared to most games, this Special Edition's still harder than Batman - it just won't make you cry any more. The biggest change is the Continue option. Previously, DMC made you go through each level - boss and all - at one go.
If you wanted to continue, you had to use a yellow Vital Star, which were expensive and only guaranteed one more go anyway. If you made a mistake - say, getting a bit careless with the low-level monsters - it was almost worth starting again. If you made a bigger blunder - like not bothering to buy the Air Hike ability before the third boss - you might have to redo two levels.
Now, though, things are different. Although the entire game's ever so slightly easier, the Gold option (as opposed to International) adds continue points at key moments and before every boss. Simply by adding these, Capcom hasn't just made things less frustrating - it's actually easier to play DMC the way you're supposed to.
Instead of staying at a distance from everything and blowing it to bits with your handguns, you're free to get stuck in, swing that sword and try to work out some combos. Instead of running away from the bosses, you can jump in and try to work out their weak spots. Just by taking away the vicious punishments for failure, Capcom's made this a more fluid, more fun game.
In fact, it's only when you start playing like this that you understand how well put together Devil May Cry actually is. After a second instalment that almost destroyed Dante's rep with annoying camera movement and useless special moves, this is better than a return to form.
Above: You can play through the game normally as Dante. Which is better, frankly
Capcom have drafted in one of the fight choreographers behind top J-zombie flick Versus to make the cut-scenes, and the results are like violent ballet. Witness the moment when Dante's evil brother catches a load of bullets on a whirling sword and flings them back... only for Dante to slice them neatly in half. It's a beautiful thing.
The main improvement, though, is the Style system. Dante's got four styles and each suits a certain style of play, levelling up with prolonged use. Our favourite is Trickster - allowing you to nip in and out with quick hits and combo-kill enemies - but veterans might want to test themselves with the elegant Royal Guard for huge combos and massive style points.
The whole system works beautifully - and again, the slight alteration in difficulty means you're less likely to be punished for flitting between styles rather than sticking with just one all the way through.The trouble is, though, once you start to prod under the surface of 'new' Devil May Cry, you realise what else has changed - almost nothing.
There's exactly one new boss (Jester, the tricksy character who dances past bullets and bleeds streamers), who turns up halfway through for a scrap. Trouble is, this doesn't fit the story and it's rubbish anyway, because all he does is sling some generic electro-balls around while you hollow-point his confetti lungs out.
Above: It looks like he's taking a bow. What a performance - bravo! Encore!
Meanwhile, Dante's evil brother Vergil turns up as a playable character, but goes through exactly the same story as his sibling, which makes no sense at all. Compared to Resi 4's excellent Separate Ways adventure, which featured totally redesigned levels, it's poor stuff indeed.
Still, If you haven't played DMC3 before, be grateful. Now you can buy this and revel in the excellent design without suffering the horrendous difficulty that plagued the original.
If you have played it though, we can't recommend this - it's simply an easier version of a game you've already played, with minor improvements. Playing it after the original, frankly, is like kicking a toddler. And that's only ever fun for about twenty minutes.