Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Demo Hands-On

We check out a Japanese demo of Capcom's stylish Devil May Cry prequel.

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Currently scheduled for release in March 2005, Devil May Cry 3 is a stylish action title in which you'll assume the role of a demon hunter named Dante. Devil May Cry 3 is a prequel to the first Devil May Cry game, which was released in 2001, and you'll realize that Dante is a slightly younger and far more brazen character this time around before you've even reached the end of the intro sequence. In the intro, Dante is attacked by demons as he eats pizza in a reclining chair with his feet up on a desk. What follows is a spectacularly over-the-top battle in which Dante, pausing only to take another bite of pizza or to select a song on his jukebox, sends his assailants back to hell with a little help from his pistols, a ceiling fan, and a pool table.

Demon hunters eating pizza don't like to be disturbed, apparently.
Demon hunters eating pizza don't like to be disturbed, apparently.

The intro will take you straight into the first level, where demons are continuing to materialize in Dante's office, but before you dive into the action, you'll have to decide which of Dante's fighting styles you want to use. The finished game will boast at least four fighting styles for you to choose from, but only three are available in the demo version of the game--most likely because you'll have to unlock the fourth. The first three fighting styles, which basically just alter the function of the "style move" button, include trickster, which gives Dante the ability to perform evasive moves such as dashing and running up walls; swordmaster, which will unlock additional melee attacks specific to the sword that you're using; and gunslinger, which makes additional special attacks available and allows you to target two enemies simultaneously. The additional moves that we were able to perform using the Rebellion sword in the demo included prop shredder, which saw Dante rapidly spinning the sword around in front of him, and sword pierce, which involved plunging the sword into an enemy and letting him or her writhe around on it while Dante continues to fight with his fists. The special attack we were able to use as a gunslinger armed with Dante's Ebony and Ivory pistols was called rain storm, and it allowed us to spin around in the air directly above enemies while shooting straight down. All of Dante's moves are well animated, and we found it especially satisfying to target two enemies simultaneously as a gunslinger and see Dante firing shots with his arms crossed or even behind his back. Incidentally, you'll be able to switch fighting styles between levels, and also whenever you encounter a divinity statue in the game--although the statue in our demo wasn't functional yet.

Divinity statues will also be the place for you to trade in any red orbs, or demon blood, that you've collected to gain the "devil trigger" ability, which allows Dante to transform himself into a powerful demon. Although, while we were able to collect plenty of red orbs as we progressed through the demo, the devil trigger ability wasn't available for us to try out. The green orbs were working, though, which was just as well, since they restore lost health.

The areas that we got to explore en route to the boss battle at the end of the demo included Dante's office, streets crawling with demons, a deserted bar, and a nightclub. The environments in the game boast varying levels of interactivity, and while this is often limited to destroying objects in the hope of finding orbs, there are one or two objects that are far more useful. For example, we were able to jump onto the pole on the nightclub's stage and attack nearby enemies by rapidly spinning around on it. The nightclub was one of two areas in the demo that required us to unlock a sealed door before we could progress. The seals appear in the form of a mist over doorways that transforms into a large hand and attacks Dante if you get too close. The red seal in the club required us to defeat every enemy in the room, while the blue seal that we encountered in the deserted bar could be broken only by solving a simple puzzle.

The boss we encountered at the end of the demo bore more than a passing resemblance to (and perhaps was) Cerberus, a huge monster with three canine heads. The boss was completely encased in ice when we first saw it, and the only way to get at any of its five vulnerable spots (its three heads and two front paws) was to smash all the ice surrounding that area and then land as many blows as possible before it froze over again. The boss battle was significantly more difficult than anything else that we encountered in the demo, but that's almost certainly because we weren't able to use any items or employ Dante's devil trigger ability using the divinity statue right outside the boss area. It's also conceivable, of course, that the demo has deliberately been made less challenging up to that point so that anyone who plays it will get to see the boss in action.

The environments boast varying levels of interactivity.
The environments boast varying levels of interactivity.

While it certainly looks like it'd be possible to defeat most of the enemies in Devil May Cry 3 using only one or two different moves, the game's style system really encourages you to mix things up by rewarding you for executing lengthy and varied combos. You won't get awarded your final style grade until the end of each level, but, as in previous Devil May Cry titles, you'll be given grades for individual combos on the fly--shown as words that flash up on screen, such as dope (D), crazy (C), blast (B) alright (A), and sweet (S). There's also an energy bar of sorts that indicates whether your current moves are helping or hindering your combo score--feedback that we found really useful when trying to improve upon our previous grades.

Judging from what we've seen of the game thus far, Devil May Cry 3 may well be the return to form that so many Devil May Cry fans disappointed by the second game have been hoping for. There are still a lot of features that we've not had the opportunity to check out (the directional pad, for example, will be used to access the item, map, equip, and style screens), and since the demo of the game we've been playing is quite brief, we're now eager to get our hands on a more-complete version. You can expect more coverage of Devil May Cry 3 as soon as Capcom grants our wish.

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