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Devil May Cry (PS2) – Game Review

Devil May Cry PS2

Overall (not an average):

Developer: Capcom Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 2
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

When word first came out about Devil May Cry, I was pretty excited. A big fan of the Resident Evil series, and just about any other action/adventure game that doesn’t rely on little anime-ish tykes with too-big heads, I couldn’t wait to see what happened when they took a dose of Blade, a dash of ResEvil, and a little touch of the gunslinging Western movie and made a game out of it. Having played it now, I can only say that it was close, but no cigar. While stylistically the game is definitely tops, the gameplay concepts are nothing new, the mechanics clunky and awkward in places, and the story all-too-familiar.

A little story background to set the stage: in the game, you play Dante, a half-devil/half-human crossbreed that works as a sort of private investigator of the utterly bizarre. Dante gets hired by the requisite noir femme fatale to keep a devil prince, recently escaped from his underworld prison, from furthering his ambitions of world domination. Along the way, you fight lots (and I do mean LOTS) of his minions, typically in really impressive environments that are beautifully designed and rendered.

[ad#longpost]Sounds great, no? In short, no. The biggest problem is a simple one: camera angles. Why, you might ask reasonably, in an age of umpteenth generation videogame consoles, capable of untold graphical wizardry, do we still get games with fixed camera angles? I’m not sure, other than that it’s easier to develop games if you don’t have to mess with messy 3D environments. What it does mean is that you spend a tremendous amount of time flipping around fighting (or in one of the cliche jumping sequences that all these games seem to require), often trying to reach platforms you can’t see, or enemies who are blocked from view by some piece of window-dressing. In short, it’s an annoying “feature” of the game, and detracts from what could have been a great title.

Add to this the requisite twitch-fiend control setup, requiring the reflexes of a wired mongoose to get off many of the game’s combos and special attacks. For those of us more interested in getting on with the game than spending days and days mastering every little nuance of the meager combo offerings, there is an “Easy” mode that takes much of the burden away and creates automatic combos. This “Easy” mode, too, could have been avoided, were things handled with a nice over-the-shoulder following camera for Dante, so that you could actually see his moves to better time combo attacks. But woe unto you if you fight someone deep in the screen or near an obstacle, as it rapidly becomes impossible to see Dante’s moves and therefore time all these neat specials.

To top most of this off, the underlying story of the game just seems like a revisited mish-mash of so many other titles before it, rather than anything new or groundbreaking. With a great noir feel, why not follow through? Why not give gamers the slick, noir private detective with a streak of demon blood in his veins? Instead, we get the half-breed, sins-of-the-father, save-the-world from evil overlord plot, already a little stale, and precious little in the way of innovative storytelling to move it along. In short, Devil May Cry is a pretty game, no doubt about it. It even provides some great moments of action, when you’re not encumbered by the one overwhelming annoyance: a locked camera.

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