Devil May Cry 3 E3 2004 Hands-On Impressions

The third game in the series will feature "stylish crazy action!" -- and we've played it. Read on.

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After a stunning 2001 debut, the Devil May Cry series slipped into decline with a lackluster sequel released early last year. It looks like Capcom is back in fine form with the third installment of the hyperkinetic shooter/brawler, because Devil May Cry 3 is looking pretty darn sharp. We saw a brand-new trailer and then went hands-on to see how Dante's latest (and, actually, first) adventure is shaping up.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Devil May Cry 3--which is only a working title at the moment--is a prequel to the first game, and it stars a younger, brasher Dante, who's not quite so experienced but is plenty cocky to make up for this fact. Capcom's pretty mum on the specifics of the game's storyline at the moment, but the trailer we saw raised more than a few questions about what's going on. The most interesting scene, shots of which were shown between scenes of Dante fighting many large monsters, depicted the famous demon hunter locked in an epic swordfight with another silver-haired warrior clad in blue, who looked an awful lot like Dante.

What's going on here? A new Capcom press release refers to Dante's twin brother Virgil, who must be the other swordsman from the trailer. Apparently, while Dante turned his back on his demonic heritage and walked the path of good, Virgil allowed himself to fall to darkness. As a result, the game will focus on the titanic confrontation between the two brothers. A female demon hunter named Lady is also named in the release, and she wants to see all demons destroyed--Dante included.

It sounds like the story in the game will be pretty interesting, but how will it play? The good news is that Devil May Cry seems to have everything you'd want out of a DMC--and then some. We saw lots of gothic locations--castles and such--in the trailer that were similar to those in the first game. The monsters Dante fought looked reminiscent of the first game, too, in that they were enormous, grotesque, and pissed off. Will they be as insanely difficult as in the first game? We'll have to wait and see.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The big addition to Devil May Cry 3's gameplay is a selectable fighting-style system that will let you customize Dante's abilities as you play through the game. (The development team refers to this as "My Dante.") We learned about four styles currently in the game: Gunslinger, which gives Dante extra shooting abilities and lets him aim his guns in different directions; Swordmaster, which gives him better close-up melee moves; Trickster, which is an evasive mode that lets Dante run up walls and perform other dodge maneuvers; and Royal Guard, which wasn't in the current build but was described as a defensive posture. The final number of fighting styles is undecided, but the team would like to add more, if time permits.

The short demo level we played was set in the streets of a ruined, deserted city--well, deserted except for a bunch of shambling monsters, of course. All of Dante's old moves were here, such as the dashing stab and his trademark aerial gunslinging. Some of the backgrounds in this level were exceptionally detailed, such as a colorful dance floor that had a pole in the middle that Dante could use to swing around to kick enemies. We also found a shotgun to replace the default dual pistols, and we imagine there are plenty more weapons to round out the arsenal later in the game.

Devil May Cry 3 looks to be getting back to the series' roots, though this is not stopping the team from making plenty of additions and refinements to the base-game model. In addition to the multiple fighting styles, a new behind-the-back camera option is being implemented to alleviate some players' complaints about the camera angles in previous games. Unfortunately, this feature wasn't shown in the demo build, but we were told it would resemble the same camera angle that's being added to the upcoming Resident Evil 4.

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