""Is this a return to form? Is this is a good Devil May Cry game?" These are the questions you want answered, right? If you're out of the loop, here's the short story: Devil May Cry rocked. Devil May Cry 2 sucked. Is the third installment more like the former game or the latter? I think it’s not so much like either. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is worth your money, your sweat and your tears, but it sure isn't a second coming of its massively popular and influential ancestor. Devil Ma..."
"Is this a return to form? Is this is a good Devil May Cry game?" These are the questions you want answered, right? If you're out of the loop, here's the short story: Devil May Cry rocked. Devil May Cry 2 sucked. Is the third installment more like the former game or the latter? I think it’s not so much like either. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is worth your money, your sweat and your tears, but it sure isn't a second coming of its massively popular and influential ancestor. Devil May Cry was a cutting edge game that set the standard for its generation; I feel like Dante's Awakening struts out of an early 90s fog, guns blazing. Don’t worry! It’s a good thing.
For one, Dante is flaunting the xxx-treme 'tude like there's no tomorrow, more Sonic than Solid Snake. The half-human, half-demon warrior was saucy before, but he was also gruff, subdued. He's younger in this third installment—twenty years younger than when he took it to the demon world in the first DMC—and he’s got an amount of boyish flair that can’t be explained by a moderate drop in age alone. Dante headlines the adventure with ludicrous bombast, swaggering in a dark red trenchcoat (no shirt, mind you), crowing about what a crazy party its going to be, battling his twin brother to the death and closing a portal between Earth and Hell, unfazed as reaper demons puncture his body with giant scythes.
You might laugh hysterically at the events that unfold, or your eyes might roll so far in the back of your head they get stuck. I love it, personally, all the corny, operatic hardassery that just won't quit. This gory, freewheeling wildness is what puts Dante’s Awakening in a class of its own. After exchanging a few painful pickup lines with a vamped up vixen, and a few blows, Dante receives a deadly electric guitar that doubles as a scythe. He wails on it, of course. Those used to the brutal seriousness of most bloody, M-rated action games have more than a few cheesy surprises in store.
Dante's Awakening is all over the map. The enemies, the weapons, the venues, everything. The fun of the combat lies in the almost intimidating number of skills and styles Dante has, most notably his ability to switch between two melee and two ranged weapons on the fly. Imagine the possibilities. You're an ashen-haired bruiser facing down a chess board of enemies (this happens at one point—watch out for the queen's rushing attack). How do you take care of business? Ebony & Ivory (twin handguns) + Shotgun + Rebellion (long sword) + Beowulf (a gauntlets and steel boot set)? Spiral (rifle) + Kalina Ann (rocket launcher) + Agni & Rudra (twin fire and wind blades) + Cerberus (three-pronged nunchaku)?
You can experiment for hours, although too many of the foes are the sort of sluggish lumps that have brute strength but not much common sense. Even so, the difficulty borders on restrictive: if you're not good at action games going in, you will not finish Dante's Awakening. I am a DMC hardass, no lie, and I finished the normal mode after twenty hours of formidable struggle. A friend of mine, an avid gamer, scraped by in forty on easy.
The fun moments should inspire this sort of playing through the pain. A mission ends routinely enough—you're just on a motorcycle, riding vertically down the side of Temen Ni Gru, the Tower of Infinite Despair that will open the portal between our world and Hell, obliterating scores of flying demons, no biggie—when a gargantuan floating whale comes on the scene, swallowing you whole. You’ll have to fight through its digestive tract, eventually facing a boss battle against a collection of bulbous organs known as the “Heartcore.”
I felt like I was playing a game from an earlier age, an age when you could finish level two in a gritty urban wasteland and inexplicably start level three in a creature's belly. This no-holds-barred adventuring is invigorating to say the least, but it is a little disappointing to see the production limited by what I can only assume are budgetary constraints—the titles that emerge from Capcom's sequel conveyor belt are never quite as refined as the first in a series.
Heck, these visuals barely top the first Devil May Cry from a graphical muscle standpoint, and they come nowhere close aesthetically. Many areas that were clearly supposed to look different smear together in an oppressive string of ugly brown/gray buildings. An unsavory amount of backtracking exacerbates to the problem. And the music? Absolutely atrocious, unlistenable metal with the requisite unintelligible growling. The only two lines I picked up were: "The fire in your eyes" and "Now you've really crossed the line." You get some nice organ or a rousing boss theme once in a while, but not nearly often enough. One more thing to chuckle at, I guess.
Maybe Devil May Cry 3 isn't much like the games of yesteryear. Maybe my memories constitute a misleading, nostalgic haze, and nothing more. But I do know this: Dante’s Awakening sure isn't Devil May Cry as we've known it before. Maybe there won't be another one like the original—the awesome Gothic atmosphere, the lavish production values, the fast and merciless enemies—but I could get used to this. Dante is quite all right with the fact that his new adventure might not have the shiniest finish, and when the action is this engrossing and complete, I'm quite all right with it, too.
Community review by careless_whisper (June 27, 2005)
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