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Sean Pettibone

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (PS2)


By Michael Palisano

Released last year, Capcom's Devil May Cry 3 represented a return to form for the series, which seemed to have lost its way with its somewhat disappointing second installment. Taking place before the events of DMC 1, the game's streamlined plot and back-to-basics approach pleased many gamers, though the increased difficulty was problematic for some. Now, the game has been re-issued as DMC3: Special Edition for the PS2, with extra features, bonus play modes, additional content, and a few minor tweaks. Join us as we take a look at this special edition and find out whether its worth picking up the second time around.

The third installment in Capcom's gothic action adventure Devil May Cry takes the series back to its roots and smartly refocuses the plot on Dante, the main protagonist from the first game. Shedding much of the excess baggage that saddled the second game, the streamlined approach once again emphasizes action with some puzzle solving to return to the series' original formula. This time around, the plot focuses on Dante's battle with his twin brother Vergil, with both locked in an eternal battle. Dante has taken the role of demon-hunter out to protect humanity from the dark forces, while Vergil has taken on the side of evil and is looking to destroy Dante for good. The gameplay should be relatively familiar for those who played the previous games. You once again have the option of using either your guns or a powerful sword to attack enemies, both attack styles have their own effect and style, and players can select which of these fighting types they want to emphasize before each round. As you begin the game, you have a basic pistol and sword, but can earn or take additional items as you progress through the levels. During each round, you'll also come across a variety of orbs which you can use to increase either your health or power gauge, with different colored orbs representing different power-ups. Once you begin the game, you'll find yourself constantly surrounded by hordes of foes, who attack you relentlessly. You can use your weapons to defeat them, and can also use a variety of special moves to evade their attacks, such as a running dash move which allows you to fly past them.

Dante can also run up the sides of walls and can evade some of the lesser enemies by simply standing at a safe distance. Some of the enemies will cause damage if you are too close to them, so you need to be careful not to get to close. The game also includes a number of different puzzles you'll need to figure out. These usually involve locked doors and you usually need to go to another location in order to find the item to unlock them. Exploring all the levels throughout the game is a key element in unlocking some of the game's puzzles. Most of the action takes place inside a large, complicated tower, where you have to traverse many long hallways, unlock doors and explore different rooms on your way to the final confrontation with your evil brother. There are many types of demons on each level, and each requires a different technique to defeat. Firing or slashing at them manually means you can inflict some damage, but in order to maximize your attacks, you can press the left shift button and auto-target them, making them much easier to kill. Some can be sliced through with little effort, while others are trickier and require multiple shots to kill. You'll also need to be on the lookout for several enemy types which can only be damaged using one type of attack, and others where you need to use both in sequence to destroy. This usually requires you to shoot them, which stuns and then slice through them with your sword. However, the real key to the game's appeal lies in its multiple weapons, which you can cycle through adding some depth and strategy to what is otherwise a shoot first, ask questions later premise.

Dante doesn't just earn points for mindlessly killing foes, he has to do so with style as well. Similair to the system seen the previous games, elegantly defeating a sequence of enemies creates a combo move, indicated at the side of the screen, which increases the number of orbs they release when they're killed. The longer your combos and more stylish your attacks, the more orbs you earn. Most of the creatures are fairly easy to defeat one-on-one, though this time around the AI seems to have been increased, making them more aggressive since they attack in groups. There are also several boss battles in the game, and these can be quite intense and last quite a bit longer than you'd expect them to, making it essential to save your health orbs for these points so you can survive the duration of their attacks. DMC 3's pacing is fairly excellent throughout, with plenty of action but also several puzzle areas which allow you to catch your breath and plot your next move. The gameplay is fairly straightforward and doesn't diverge too much from previous installments in terms of mechanics and approach. DMC 3 takes place from the third person perspective, with a fixed camera angle used. Players can reorient the camera to a behind the character view if they get lost. Additionally, there are some areas where you can change your viewpoint manually. This system works well for the most part, allowing you to focus on the action, with fairly smooth transitions between viewpoints during normal battles. However, problems occur when your are battling multiple foes because the camera has a difficult time keeping up with the action. It's frustrating to find yourself being attacked from an off-screen enemy, and taking the time to correct the viewpoint and target a foe means you take damage needlessly.

From a visual standpoint, DMC 3: SE's design is superb with an impressive graphics engine that displays an impressive level of detail throughout. The environments are dark, yet beautiful with effective light sourcing that creates an appropriately somber mood. Each level consists of multiple rooms with each giving off a different feeling and distinct flavor, the standout being the inner corridor of the tower, with a dizzying array of interwoven staircases that immediately brings to mind Escher and Geiger, though the game's overall horror-theme pervades. These evocative atmospherics bring the netherworld of Devil May Cry to life vividly, and allows the player to truly feel immersed in Dante's parallel universe. The game's creatures and demons are impressively designed as well, and float, attack and move with an ethereal, menacing motions throughout. Excellent voice acting brings the characters to life, with Dante himself giving off an attitude of confidence, while his brother is the other side of the coin and brings arrogance to the game. The soundtrack offers players a mix of gothic-industrial tracks and the occasional classical piece to create a haunted vibe that permeates the action, giving DMC 3's overall look and feel a solid level of cohesion and believability that makes for an appealing, immersive experience. .

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is essentially the same title that was released last year, the developers have added a few extras that add even more value to this value priced package. There are several new gameplay modes, including a new turbo mode which speeds up the action, a new extra hard mode is designed for with hardcore player in mind and lives up to its billing by offering an almost seemingly impossible challenge. From a gameplay standpoint, the developers have added an extra boss battle with the annoying Jester character, which doesn't add as much to the game as you'd think it would. Most importantly, there's now a new mode where you can play through the game as Dante's brother Vergil, which is enjoyable, though doesn't diverge much at all from the main quest, making it slightly disappointing. Sadly, Capcom didn't fix some of the camera issues which is also a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, these are very minor issues and don't make the game any less enjoyable than it was the first time around. While these changes are interesting, the value to gamers who already have the original DMC 3 release is a bit low, but those who missed out the first time around will definitely want to check out the Special Edition, especially at its lower retail price.

Grade: B

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