You going to cry. I thought Devils never cried?
Well it was about time that Capcom released another Dante game since the fans had been screaming like Hell-vanguards about it since Devil May Cry 2 desperate for another slice of demon and devil busting action featuring our heroic anti-hero.
But since the ending of the previous game saw Dante ride off into the depths of hell many people thought that the game would continue on from that, they were wrong...
It's all about Dante baby...
Love him or hate him he's a smart-assed loud-mouthed demon-slaying punk to the core, and in this instalment of Devil May Cry, aptly titled Dante's Awakening we are taken back to the start of his tale, where his father Sparda ruled over the human world after forsaking the demon world and sired two sons.
Dante and Vergil.
The new game's story takes place as a prequel rather than a sequel to the original Devil May Cry and showcases the brotherly love between these siblings, beginning with a massive sword fight and telling the story of the sons of Sparda. Dante has just moved into his brand new office where he plans to set up, he hasn't named the place yet and in an explosive first encounter with the hordes of hell he's not going to get the chance to.
A mysterious tower appears close to where his office is and the game unfolds from there, seeing the hero battling through some massive stages to get to his brother and a mysterious man known only as Arkham. Joining Dante is a strange woman with just as much attitude as him and a desire to kill all demons and devils, including our red-coated pretty boy. It's not your mommas Devil May Cry
For the third instalment of the game Capcom have pretty much pulled out the stops to reinvent Dante's gameplay and upped the level of difficulty by INSANE amounts. This game isn't going to be cracked wide open in one sitting with the normal difficulty setting (If you die too many times you do get access to Easy and Easy Automatic mode) as I will tell you right here and now - the game is rock solid even if you are a gamer that's faster than ten rabid ninja hamsters on PCP.
The control method for DMC3 remains the same but it feels a lot tighter, the moves and combos are now much easier to link to provide a visual feast for the eyes as Dante cuts and shoots his way through hordes and hordes of fiendish enemies. Each weapon has its own combat animation and design, they're all pretty different and they all have their pros and cons.
Just like in the previous games Dante collects the crystallised souls of his vanquished foes that appear as Red Orbs or if you really do well, Green Orbs (health restore). Orb amounts are based upon how cool your combo has been and how well you took down the enemy, you can link combos by using Dante's guns and melee weapons - just remember that you cannot do the same move repeatedly in the combo chain or the meter will fail to rise.
By using the Red Orbs Dante can power up his guns and devil arms adding more firepower or in the case of weapons like Rebellion, air hike and other moves. Some of these are new and some are old favourites, some of them have more than one level of power so you'll be unlocking moves for a while.
So far it's sounding like a souped up version of the original game right? What did they add that's really new?
Styles: Dante's Awakening features styles; these are specific sets of new moves and tricks based on a particular kind of technique. At the beginning of the game you're given a choice of which style you'd like to start with and Dante earns experience in the style that he's currently using - you can switch styles from a mission start screen or a time statue (named after the Greek God: Cronos or Kronos). When Dante's style experience meter tops out he will go up a level in the style he's been using and gain either improved abilities or new ones.
The styles are:
Gunslinger: This style concentrates on the firearms aspect of the game and is probably one of the best styles in DMC3.
Swordsmaster: With this style Dante can shred his enemies and unlock some blazing cool moves later on.
Trickster: A defensive style allowing Dante to dodge his enemies and keep one step ahead, always moving and always versatile
Royalguard: A style that focuses on blocking blows and building up rage, once Dante has enough he can unleash it in a single blow to cause lots of damage.
There's one more style that I found when I hit the later levels of the game, but I am not going to spoil the surprise, nor am I going to list the new weapons or guns in DMC3 - you are going to have to find them all and get them all yourselves.
My personal favourite at the moment has got to be Gunslinger style because it allows Dante to shoot in different directions and it looks cool, while serving a useful purpose in combat. You can easily activate your special style moves with a couple of button presses and the more skilful players will find that the new moves add a level of strategy to the game that wasn't present before.
On-top of all these new styles DMC3 has added a few new moves to Dante's normal arsenal, knock down an enemy and then jump on them and Dante can surf them around the level for a short while before they hit a wall, if you try and shoot he'll kick the body so it spins madly and shoot in 360 degrees.
If you're close to a downed enemy and you repeatedly hit the fire button, Dante will fill their body full of holes and then boot them across the floor. There are many moves available in DMC3 and it has more than 1 and 2 put together, along with the styles this should keep any action junkie happy. A new feature that really improves the whole game is the save system, you can now replay a mission you have previously accessed to rack up more points, orbs and experience allowing you to replay the levels time and time again. Either for fun or to make sure you have an arsenal of new abilities and skills at your disposal.
You can save after the completed mission or just save Dante's state keeping all of his collected items, points and so on. This means that you can build your hero the way you want him to be and then go lay down some serious smackage on the enemy later on in the game. I found this helped in certain boss fights, especially some of the earlier ones.
Talking of boss fights, some of them are massive monstrosities that can only be beaten with brute force and acrobatic tom-foolery. A suggestion for a lot of these battles would be to build up Rebellion early in the game until you have air-hike and all its powers, Dante doesn't have his 'devil trigger' until much later on and you'll need an edge to get past Vergil (Who is a tough nut to crack until you work out as I did, how to beat him).
The combats in DMC3 are hard and even the weakest enemy on normal mode is a challenge to beat without taking a scratch or two, until you get used to the way the new game works.
Capcom have also included an option either at the customise screen or the statue, to equip two of your favourite weapons for both firearms and melee. These can then be quickly switched in game with the touch of a button to add to the combo or just the style of the attack.
My my Dante, we're looking good
Compared to the previous games Capcom have outdone themselves and DMC3 is the best looking DMC game yet. It's got a higher polygon count on all the models and Dante himself really does look the part, a lot better than his previous incarnations. The texturing on the characters and the actual animation is pretty excellent and the whole thing is tied together with a seamless style between cut-scenes and actual gameplay, rather than focussing on CGI this time around Capcom have opted to use in-game engine elements for their cut-scenes and they're probably the most over the top scenes in any game I have played. But they fit the style of the game perfectly; it's big, bold, loud and brash with a cavalcade of special eye-popping effects and designs. It's not going to sit quietly in the background and sneak around, it's designed to get your attention and hold it as the moves and effects blast away everywhere on screen.
With the increased poly-counts the developers have been able to add more character to their models and we can now see facial expressions and so on in their animations, all of which are again well designed and implemented. They have captured the cocky aspect of Dante to a 'T' and regardless of certain mumblings from some members of the online community that think they know Dante as well as the developers themselves and the writers: this doesn't make the game at all retarded.
With a bigger, brighter and bolder palette of colours comes the significantly re-designed and revamped style of the game. The new levels are suitably run-down and broken in places where the evil influence of the tower has spread through the city and the hordes of hell have reduced it to a shambling crumbled-down mess. The level design is once again top notch and focussed a little more towards the use of action to progress rather than the puzzles of the first game, not to say that there are no puzzles in DMC3 of course - you'll have to find those out for yourselves.
So overall the animation and models/graphics/textures and even the lighting are a big step above those in the previous two games, which shows a nice evolution to the series.
Do demons think differently?
The AI in DMC3 has been pumped up and the aggressiveness level of the monsters has sky-rocketed, they will use rudimentary pack-tactics to try and get the better of you, dodge and weave if they can and some will even block Dante's melee or gun attacks. Leaving you to work out how to deal with them by changing tactics yourself, sometimes it's better to go to a statue and switch a weapon or a style.
Boss AI varies from creature to creature and some of them are quite cunning, they'll have novice and some seasoned gamers pulling their hair out until you hit on a specific tactic for dealing with their different attacks. Dante rocking all over the world!
The music in DMC3 varies from quite soft mood music to all out heavy J-rock style tracks, which blast away from the speakers as Dante kicks demonic ass. It's all presented in a seamless style as demons port in from hell and your button murdering skills are called upon in full force, when the demons are gone and there's a slew of Red Orbs then the music quietly fades back into the more sedate soundtrack.
Hey Baby, it's Showtime!
Dante is a cocky arrogant little punk and they have given him much more of a speaking role in this game (to the annoyance of some fans who believe that he shouldn't sound like that at all). The voice actor for the US and Euro version: Reuben Langdon steps into Dante's vocal shoes, taking over from Matthew Kaminsky (DMC2) and Drew Coombs (DMC).
Reuben adds an interesting almost whiny-edge to the younger Dante and provides a sarcastic tone to the character evident in several of the wilder cut-scenes, it showcases why my wife thinks Dante needs a good slap perfectly and in that respect Reuben has done a sterling job.
The rest of the voice work is performed by an able and talented cast, ones that know their job and aren't afraid to ham-it-up for the cameras and audience. Vergil has a suitably arrogant but smoother tone and Arkham is downright creepy but not at all on the scale of Jester, who gets my vote for the most annoying game character and voice ever - nice work to his voice artist.
Lights, camera, rotate!
DMC3 features the same trippy camera as the previous games and that's the biggest bug-bear I have with it, sure it's rock-solid hard as nails and goes for the throat but I want Capcom to wake up and add a full 3d camera to DMC4. This partial rotating camera didn't help make the game any easier and often it swings out of view leaving you wondering where Dante is...you can see your health drop but can't for a few moments find out why - those moments can mean success of failure and are downright frustrating, hence the fact my score for the game is lower.
There were some moments where the game actually slowed down when things got a little too pyrotechnical and flashy, this is another minor gripe of mine but it did help in a particularly nasty fight as I could see the creature's attack before it was able to land it, flipping Dante out of the way of a hum-dinger of a blow.
There is a bit of back-tracking where you have to cross areas of the map you've been before but unlike certain games, this doesn't come as a detriment since often there are new ways to go or at least a surprise or two in store as you access the area again.
So with those gripes aside DMC3 is the best DMC game yet regardless of the reaction of die-hard DMC fans. It has evolved the series in a harder and more rewarding direction, the other difficulty modes become available once you have completed the game and with all the weapons to find and master, styles to improve and maximise you're going to be unlocking things for a while. I am sure as well there are secret characters and other hidden things inside the game that the developers haven't told me. I look forwards to seeing what DMC4 will have in store and how they could possibly top DMC3, the inclusion of a MP coop mode where you could team up with a friend and play through the single-player part of the game would be an excellent start. But until then I shall probably go back and try to get Swordsmaster up to level 3 - wish me luck, because there's going to be a whole lot of devils crying after I'm done with them.