Devil May Cry Preview

We deliver hands-on impressions of the near-complete version of Devil May Cry for the PlayStation 2.

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Dante is attacked by a vicious shadow beast.
Dante is attacked by a vicious shadow beast.

Once upon a time the Capcom development team led by Hideki Kamiya was working on the fifth installment to the Resident Evil series. But because the game was going in a completely different direction than originally intended, producer Shinji Mikami decided to use it to found a new series, known as Devil May Cry. A trial version was recently included in the Japanese PS2 version of Resident Evil Code: Veronica, which offered us a sneak peek at what to expect in the final product, but a few changes have been made since then. GameSpot recently acquired a playable copy of the near-complete Devil May Cry, and we deliver you our hands-on impressions.

Some players out there must have wasted valuable gameplay time when playing these Resident Evil-type games, losing track of what to do next perhaps or maybe forgetting which area led to where. Originally, Devil May Cry followed that traditional survival-horror format, where you roam from one area to another on a giant map. But now the format has been changed to more of a traditional mission-based system. This makes Devil May Cry a far more user-friendly adventure game, especially for novice gamers. But although it is mission-based, the game still essentially unfolds on one giant map, except that you can only roam around limited areas in each mission. Mission objectives involve finding specific items or fighting certain bosses, and some of them have a time limit. At the end of each mission, you will be given a "devil hunter" ranking depending on how long it took you to clear the mission and how many red orbs you collected. When you eliminate enemy monsters, you are rewarded with red orbs, which you can use to purchase new items or moves for Dante at the beginning of each mission or in various stores located in certain areas in the dungeons. The method and style you use when you kill each monster will be a factor in how many red orbs you are rewarded. Comments like "dull" or "cool" will appear beside the health bar so you will immediately know how your performance was rated.

Bad things will happen on this bridge...
Bad things will happen on this bridge...

A few tweaks have been made to the control scheme. Dante can now shoot guns while in midair. If you fire his pair of guns (Ebony and Ivory) fast enough, you'll float in midair for a split second and then land slowly as if you were defying gravity--it's pretty impressive in terms of visuals, and it serves as an effective offensive technique as well. Holding the R1 button, tilting the analog stick, and pressing the X button lets Dante jump or roll sideways, but the tweaks in the latest version seem to make the execution of rolls much easier than before. We often ended up rolling sideways when we intended to jump, so you will need to get used to this.]if you have played the original trail version The R2 button now lets Dante perform taunts, which are commonly seen in fighting games. Some of the moves that Dante can purchase add diversity to his attacks and his movement abilities. For example, purchasing the "round trip" move will let Dante throw his sword like a boomerang. While the sword is away from his hands, he can execute a series of punches and kicks.

Gunshots against an ethereal body.
Gunshots against an ethereal body.

Double jumps were possible in the previous build only when rebounding off of walls, but if you purchase "air hike," you can now do double jumps even in midair. Some of the items you can purchase are eye-catching too. While most of them are healing agents, some possess offensive or defensive properties. Holy water, for example, eliminates all enemies onscreen (though you will be rewarded with only a few red orbs), and an item called "untouchable" grants Dante invincibility for a limited amount of time.

A new addition to the game is the "easy automatic" mode, which lets novice gamers play like the experts. In this mode, pressing the triangle button repeatedly will automatically execute a variety of sword attacks in succession. In the normal mode, you must use the analog sticks and the controller buttons to perform different sword swings. To fire guns in the normal mode you must press square (or circle) rapidly. In the easy automatic mode, however, you can simply hold the square (or circle) button down to fire your guns. The rate of fire is average, but it saves you the extra effort, especially when shooting in midair. Though the demo gave us access to the easy automatic mode, most likely the mode will not be available at the start, and you will have to unlock it, perhaps after finishing the game once.

The game's real-time cutscenes ooze style.
The game's real-time cutscenes ooze style.

In the demo we played, we ventured through missions two through four. Though we couldn't battle against Dante's archrival Nero Angelo in this version, we were treated to two bosses--the lava spider, Phantom, in mission three (which was accessible in the E3 version), and the shape-shifting beast, Shadow, in mission four (shown in the recent trailers). The game certainly delivers fast-paced action--for example, the end of mission three, where after Dante defeats Phantom once, the furious beast returns and chases Dante down a long corridor, and Dante must choose to either fight or run away from the beast. More stylish cutscenes (rendered in real time) were added to the game as well. There is a scene where the lightning sword Alastor nails Dante down to the floor through his chest (to test his worthiness), and his body slowly rises up, sliding through the sword with blood gushing. When he finally stands up, he picks up the sword and raises it as lightning strikes down on him. Then the action begins to move in slow motion as Dante performs a sword dance. The entire sequence is like a scene from a Highlander film.

With changes made to the game system and additions made to the control scheme, the game is becoming more solid. The latest action-adventure game from Capcom, Devil May Cry for the PlayStation 2, is scheduled for a release in Japan this August 23.

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