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Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PlayStation 2) artwork

Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PlayStation 2) review


"I wish I had a sword. A nice, big, demon-slaying sword. And guns, two guns, so I could go John Woo all over legions of the demons. I wish there were legions of demons for me to go John Woo on, endless throngs on hell-spawns ripe for the slicing. I wish I hung out with a girl in a schoolgirl outfit who had more weaponry than a third-world country strapped to her waste. I wish, I wish, I wish. "



I wish I had a sword. A nice, big, demon-slaying sword. And guns, two guns, so I could go John Woo all over legions of the demons. I wish there were legions of demons for me to go John Woo on, endless throngs on hell-spawns ripe for the slicing. I wish I hung out with a girl in a schoolgirl outfit who had more weaponry than a third-world country strapped to her waste. I wish, I wish, I wish.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in a world of such luxuries; the most danger I’ll ever face is trying to get the last pizza slice out of the buffet at my local Cici’s. Thank God for Devil May Cry 3. For every guy who’s wished he could vent his male urges in an endless series of gun orgies, for every guy who’s wanted to fight a topless succubus with a skirt made out of bats, for every guy who’s wanted to get medieval on everything in sight but fears the police beatings and criminal charges that would ensue…this game is for you.

But before you seek out to get your gun on or your sword on or your guns and sword on, be forewarned: This game will kick your ass, or your arse, or whatever appendage happens to be sticking out the lower side of your back. (Unless you cheat, of course. Pansy.) Hordes, and I do mean HORDES, of demons will be sent your way each level, forcing you to use every move in Dante’s arsenal to the fullest, forcing you to think strategically and plan ahead, forcing you anticipate, eviscerate, and then decimate each and every last thing in the room. Even the simplest of enemies attack in groups, giving your thumb the ultimate workout as you hack, slash, shoot, snipe, punch, kick, and annihilate your way through the waves. Bosses come often, they come big, and they come hard, and oftentimes all it takes is a slip of the finger to decide whether you emerge victorious. It’s almost like your enemies don’t want you to win. Imagine that.

You will lose. Your thumb will ache. And, most likely, you will come back for more.

The enemies will be coming full steam, but you’ve got the means to satisfy their urge. Dante comes equipped with all the necessary accouterments. There’s Ebony and Ivory, of course, a pair of guns made to satisfy all your testosterone-inducing, demon-perforating needs. And Dante wouldn’t be Dante without his needlessly large but ever potent sword, the Rebellion this time around. Not satisfied? Don’t be troubled, new weapons come your way soon enough into the game, before the levels even get to double-digits. Five weapons for melee mayhem. Five weapons for long-distance destruction. And while each one of them has their own nuances and intricacies to fit your playing style, not a one of them truly sucks; they’re all potent in their own way. What’s that? You wish you could switch them on the fly, mix things up, some hellish combos for the minions of hell? Done and done. Choose two weapons for both up close and long distance, and you can switch between those two on the fly. This leads to the following common scenario:

Dante whacks the enemy a few times with Cerberus, his three-way nunchuks. (it’s not as lame as it sounds, trust me) We then switch to the Rebellion in mid-combo, and hit the enemy with an attack that launches them skyward. Next we bring out the guns and shoot at the enemy while he’s falling, juggling him with bullets. And we end it by switching to everyone’s favorite problem solver, a Missile Launcher, and blast the enemy to dust. Literally.

Sweet.

And if that’s not enough customization for you, a variety of different styles are at Dante’s disposal. Each style brings a new way of play to the table, allowing you to pick your poison and destroy how you wish to destroy. More of an up-close, hands on type of player? Choose the Swordmaster style, and slice, slice, slice away to your heart’s content. Do you have a little John Woo in you? Then go with the Gunslinger style, and give your enemies the ultimate lead enema. You’re a tactician, a thinker, a man willing to let his enemies come to him and sow their own demise? Look no further than the Royalguard style, a martial art that turns your opponent’s attacks against them.

Each style works like an RPG; you accumulate experience before you reach the next level and are rewarded with new attacks to choose from. Though there are only three levels for the styles (save for two, very special styles) and reaching them requires a few hours of hard work, it all works to make you a better player, building your experience and then giving you newer powers when your ready for them. We call that ‘depth’, and it’s something few games in the action genre truly have.

Music is a trick for any videogame; it has the challenge of existing and not existing at the same time. It has to aid the game, but not detract from it; shine, but outshine. It must remain separate, while remaining whole. Devil May Cry 3 hits that subtle balance.

Music is, like many things, a subjective art; you love it or you hate, hit or miss. But there is no denying that Heavy Metal soundtrack laid out for Devil May Cry 3 fits. Nothing else would do. No soothing melodies, no elevator muzak. When you make a hellish game, you need hellish music. The guitar thumbs, the bass quakes, and the drums thump as you make your way through the armies of darkness, starting up with the appearance of each foe and quieting down as soon as the final blow is struck. It intensifies you, heats the blood and makes you ready, takes on a personality all its own. A few minutes in, and you won’t be able to imagine this game playing with anything else.

The sonic streak continues into the voice acting; an aspect that Devil May Cry 3 delivers and excels. Dante’s voice acting is top-notch, and while, at times, he sounds like a hyperactive, pizza-eating, cocky teenager, he IS a hyperactive, pizza-eating, cocky teenager, so it does justice. Each character’s voice fits the mold from which it came. Lady, a bazooka carrying schoolgirl with serious family issues to work out, keeps fury held under her every word; you can almost see the venom seeping from her lips. Arkham, a man whose scarred face is only a pale reflection of his scarred heart, speaks like a pastor, only instead of preaching about angels and salvation, he talks of demons and damnation. And Vergil…Vergil has a menace that’s beyond words. Likewise, each stage comes alive as the enemies moan, groan, screech and scream with every step, a symphony of sorrow. It’s an unmatched resonance, a smorgasbord for the ears.

You might think that a game like this would skimp on the story, that it ignores it and focuses on maximum action. You might think that, since other games in the action genre are subject to such cliche plots and trite characters, that Devil May Cry 3 would be no exception, that it would fall in line with its brethren and be a simple jaunt from start to finish, no meat in between. You might think that Devil May Cry 3 is nothing more than the equivalent of an Arnold Schwarzeneggar film: Loud and action-packed, but nothing more than a popcorn cruncher. Empty and soulless.

You might think wrong.

Devil May Cry 3’s story is one of demons and despair, of paradise lost and paradise gained. It talks of betrayal, of two sons and a daughter living in the wake of their fathers, fighting as much on the inside as they do on the out. And while some may call Dante a two dimensional character, a caricature who’s only limited to making catchy phrases, kicking ass and looking good while he does it, before the end credits roll you’ll see a glimpse of a deeper man. Look hard enough, and you’ll see that even a devil may cry.

Devil May Cry 3 won’t win any prizes for its graphics. They’re not ultra-realistic, they don’t use some fancy new technology with fifteen syllables in its name. The cels aren’t shaded, the envelope isn’t pushed. Devil May Cry 3 keeps things simple and clean. A few transparency effects, some decent lighting sparkles, and good explosions are a must. Beyond that, there’s little here that hasn’t been done before.

This is a good thing.

By not exploiting over-the-top graphic, by not going for some mind-boggling level of realism, Devil May Cry 3 manages to keep things at even pace no matter what Dante does; moves that would look ridiculous with realism become believable somehow, giving the game a sort of anime feel that does it justice. And because of its graphical balance, no matter how many enemies assault you, no matter how big they come or how furious they attack, no matter what way you choose to send the back to the pit, you will never see a hint of slowdown. Not one iota, not one bit

While Devil May Cry 3 doesn’t exactly have the looks, it has the moves; there’s no doubting that. Each cut-scene was beautifully choreographed, and it shows; characters move with a fluidity and style that defies words. Every flick of the finger, every nod of the head, every motion of the body adds to an overall sense of motion, of life within the game. It combines with the music and the action and voices to create a sense that has no parallel, like watching a movie unfold piece by piece before and after every mission.

A game like Devil May Cry 3 has to have controls that are above the par. In a game such as this, where split second thinking is an absolute must for survival, nothing less than the most responsive of controls will do, anything less and defeat would be your only option. Lightning fast controls for lightning fast reflexes.

The moves come as if you were making them yourself, with your own two hands. There is no move that can’t be reliably made with practice, no attack that you can’t achieve when you need to achieve it. The system is intuitive, allowing for the most insane of combos with the most minute of concentration; looking stylish has never been so easy. Can you throw down with the same skill that Dante shows in the cutscenes? No, sadly. The distinction between gameplay Dante and cutscene Dante has been a gripe with the entire series, and it doesn’t change here. But Devil May Cry 3 comes as close as you could conceivably get.

Some games are like lighting. Brilliant and dazzling, but brief and fleeting. Other games are like roller coasters, whirlwind affairs that are great for the duration, but hardly warrant a second run.

Devil May Cry 3 is a supernova. Rare. Powerful. Awe-inspiring. And unlike any other phenomena in the universe. Should you rent Devil May Cry 3 or buy it? Buy. Without question, buy. Despite its minor flaws, this game is a roller coaster that never stops.

Go for a ride.


Rating: 9.3/10

lasthero's avatar
Community review by lasthero (June 08, 2005)

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