Capcom's stylish action game Devil May Cry hit store shelves this week in Japan, and we decided to take it out for a spin. The first thing you will notice playing the game is that the difficulty level is harder than what most have experienced in the previous demo versions. The game rates you on how stylishly you kill enemies with the following ratings, in ascending order: "dull," "cool," "bravo," "awesome," and "stylish." It seems as though the rating system is flawed, though, because no matter how stylishly you make the first strike, your rating always begins with dull. The rating system seems to judge on a simpler criterion, focusing more on inflicting damage upon successive enemies. Unfortunately, even a slight pause returns your rating back to dull. Pulling off the stylish rating can be accomplished if you're fighting against a dozen or so enemies in one room. The more stylish, the more red orbs you earn, but with the way this rating system works, it makes it difficult to earn many red orbs in short amount of time. Compounding that, purchasing healing agents or new moves requires a large number of red orbs. In the end, you will have to move back and forth from one room to the other, killing enemies and collecting orbs, before you're finally able to purchase one new move from the list. Though this process may take time and feel redundant after a while, the new moves can help you progress through the game faster. They also help in boss fights, but they can't be entirely depended upon, as a certain degree of acclimation and skill is required.
The one other thing that's new is the existence of secret missions. They surface in between missions, while you're moving from one area to another. Some allow you to challenge the mission until it is accomplished, while others only give you one shot at it. The secret missions generally have a higher difficulty level--some of their objectives include things like fighting three bosses at the same time or killing an enemy with one shot.
Devil May Cry's graphics should impress PS2 users, as they're easily in league with those of Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. With quirky angles and perspectives, the camera delivers the type of cinematic style the game was shooting for, but it also hinders the gameplay on occasion--some of game's areas are composed of several screens, each one having a unique camera angle, and your control scheme can be "inverted" as you move between them. This can lead to unintentional damage when fighting bosses, among other things. Later in the game, though, you will also be able to venture underwater, where the game switches into first-person perspective. We've also confirmed that you can play as characters other than Dante, but we won't spoil it for you at the moment.
So far, with Devil May Cry, it seems that Capcom has realized the "stylish action" game in the visual sense, but the intense difficulty level might cause the average gamer to shy away. Hopefully, the North American version will allow players to select the "easy automatic" mode by default. In any event, we'll have a full preview for you very soon.