Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Review
Anyone who perseveres long enough to learn the ropes will probably agree that Devil May Cry 3 is one of the best PlayStation 2 action adventure games since the original.
- Excellent, fluid combat system, once you get the hang of it
- Spectacular visuals, especially the cutscenes
- Open-ended character building system gives replay value.
- Ridiculously, unreasonably difficult at first
- Not much variety of environments; fair amount of backtracking.
Get ready for some action that's so good it's liable to make you gnash your teeth and possibly smash your controller. Devil May Cry 3 is an appropriate about-face for the most memorable of Capcom's more recent franchises, one that started with a bang back in 2001 but flubbed its second outing two years ago. Now Devil May Cry is back, once again featuring the irreverent, inhumanly strong half-demon Dante in the starring role, and it easily presents the series' most challenging adventure yet. Devil May Cry 3 packs in a deep, outstanding combat system, plenty of spectacular story sequences, and lots of flair. Unfortunately, it's unbelievably, unreasonably difficult at first. Think of the most punishing game you played in the last several years. Now, imagine the second or third level of this game being even harder than that. Overcoming Devil May Cry 3's near-vertical learning curve could prove extremely frustrating, to the point where some players will justifiably give up after repeatedly failing the first few missions. That's really too bad, because anyone who perseveres long enough to learn the ropes will probably agree that Devil May Cry 3 is one of the best PlayStation 2 action adventure games since the original.
The game's difficulty comes from a variety of factors, one of which is a fundamental disconnect between how Dante is as a character and how you actually need to control him while playing. In story sequences, Dante comes across as a reckless show-off who's practically immortal. In an early cutscene, he willingly lets a group of demonic enemies run him through with their blades, just to spite them. Unfortunately for you, such tactics don't actually work during gameplay, where you'll quickly discover that Dante is actually very easily killed. Another more important lesson takes longer to sink in: Throwing yourself at danger is going to get you killed 100 percent of the time. Again, this is especially true when first starting out, since besides not really knowing how to play the game, you'll start out with a short life meter (a few quick hits will kill you), none of the powerful weapons and abilities you'll acquire later on, and no continues. Devil May Cry 3, which bills itself as a "stylish crazy action" game, projects Dante's own carefree, incorrigible personality, suggesting a level of pick-up-and-play appeal that's actually nonexistent. It's debatable whether or not this is an inherent design flaw, but there's no denying the game drops you off in the deep end right from the start.
Other much more concrete aspects of gameplay also make the early going as tough as it is. For example, there aren't any difficulty settings to choose from at first, and, as a matter of fact, the default difficulty mode here is actually the Japanese version's "hard" mode, which could only be accessed after finishing that version of the game. Whoever at Capcom second-guessed the recently released Japanese game's design and made it even more punishing made a terrible choice that nearly ruins this version. Thankfully, after Dante gets killed a few times, the euphemistically named "easy" difficulty setting is unlocked. Do yourself a favor: Swallow your pride, and start over in easy mode, which you'll find really isn't that much easier but should be surmountable if you've finished other action games that are generally considered to be hard.
It'll initially seem very difficult to avoid getting hit in Devil May Cry 3. You can't withstand many hits, and unlike in similar games, you don't get some sort of invulnerability grace period after you've taken damage. So if five enemies attack you at once, you'll take all five of those hits and will probably die. You're going to die often, whether you like it or not, and at first, you might be inclined to blame this on the third-person perspective and the controls, both of which cease being issues eventually but are likely to give you some serious headaches in the first few hours. You can make Dante automatically attack nearby foes using his guns or his sword, or you can hold down R1 to lock onto a specific enemy. When you're locked onto and facing a foe, you can execute lateral rolls to get out of harm's way...but you must do so by pressing to Dante's left or right on the analog stick rather than to yours, which takes a while to get used to in the context of this game's hectic battles. If you don't perform the move correctly, you'll make Dante jump up instead of roll to the side, and you'll probably get hit. By default, Dante has no other defensive maneuvers to speak of, so any natural inclinations you might have either to retreat from attacks or try to guard against them will be brutally rebuffed.
One of Devil May Cry 3's interesting features is that it initially lets you choose from one of four different fighting styles for Dante. These don't completely change the gameplay or anything, but they do encourage a different approach depending on which style you choose. It's possible to switch styles between missions and at certain points during missions, but since you gain experience and eventually new abilities as you keep using a single style, it pays to focus on one at a time. Specifically, it pays to stick with the default "trickster" style on your first play-through, even though it doesn't seem nearly as appealing as the tougher-sounding "swordmaster" and "gunslinger" styles ("royal guard," a defensive style, isn't a good starting choice either).
Again, the difficulty partly comes from simply not understanding the crucial nuances of the gameplay at first, which is something the game's optional tutorial screens do very little to address. You'll be inclined to either charge your enemies using the flashy slashes afforded by the swordmaster style or blast away at them using the gunslinger's fancy shooting. And in either case, you'll get murdered repeatedly. Instead, you should be fighting with utmost caution, keeping your foes at bay, carefully observing their patterns, and avoiding attacks by using the trickster style's incredibly useful starting ability to execute an invincible dash in any direction. Nothing says "trickster" like dodging a giant scythe.
- Player Reviews: 612
- Game Universe:
- Devil May Cry (PS2, PSP),
- Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (PS2, PC),
- Devil May Cry 4 (PS3, X360, PC),
- DmC: Devil May Cry (PS3, X360, PC),
- Devil May Cry HD Collection (X360, PS3),
- Devil May Cry: 5th Anniversary Collection (PS2),
- Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PS2),
- Devil May Cry 2 (PS2),
- DmC: Devil May Cry - Bloody Palace (X360, PS3, PC),
- DmC: Devil May Cry - Vergil's Downfall (PC, X360, PS3)
- Number of Players: