Games for Lunch: Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening
Release Date: March 1, 2005
System: PS2 (reviewed), Windows
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site
0:00 I played the original Devil May Cry for about five minutes back in college. I watched the first three episodes of the "DMC" anime, though, so I feel like an expert already.
0:01 "Warning, this game contains explicit scenes of violence and gore." As if the M rating wasn't warning enough.
0:02 "You've heard of it, haven't you? The legend of Sparda? When I was young, my father would tell me stories about it." A female voice goes on about a demon who rebelled against his own kind and sealed a portal to the demon world. His power was trapped on the other side. Fade in to slow-mo shots of a rain-drenched sword battle. Her father's stories were true! "I met the sons of Sparda, both of them! It seemed as if they derived some sort of twisted pleasure from this brotherly fighting." Anyone with a sibling can relate. One stabs the other. "But in the end only one was left standing." A phone rings. "Want to know the name? Devil May Cry!" someone screams. I knew the name already. Thanks, though.
0:06 I don't know how I'm gonna remember all the controls on this config screen. Luckily, the game asks if I want a tutorial (I do). It also asks me to choose between "Yellow" and "Gold." Since I have no idea what this means, I pick Gold. Because it's shiny.
0:07 The phone rings again and one of the guys from the sword battle (Dante?) comes out of a shower and puts his feet up at a desk. He picks up. "Sorry, not open for business yet." Hangs up. "I haven't even picked a name for this joint and I'm already getting calls." A customer comes in. "Is your name Dante, son of Sparda?" "Where did you hear that?" "From your brother." But he's d-d-d-dead! The customer says bro sent an invite -- in the form of a flipped desk, apparently. Dante does a stylish flip and catches the gun and the pizza that flew off the desk, then gets hacked by a bunch of scythe-armed demons. Looks painful. He steps away easily, pulls a scythe out of his stomach, and knocks a ceiling fan onto a group of the guys. "This party's getting crazy! Let's rock!" He punches a jukebox button, but it doesn't work. He punches the jukebox to life, Fonzie style, chomps a slice of pizza and takes out the demons with a mix of gunplay and punching/kicking, whooping all the while. At one point he slices a pool table in half and kicks the top at them. "The end? Don't bet on it." This intro was worth the price of admission all by itself!
0:11 "Mission 1: A crazy party." I can choose between Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger and Royal Guard styles. Trickster sounds my style: attack dodging.
0:13 Basic run-and-jump-and-sword-and-gun gameplay. Pretty quick, responsive, intuitive controls, I notice right off. Very stylishly done. The camera doesn't move as easily as I'd like, though.
0:16 My attack combo meter goes from "Dope!" to "Crazy!" to "Blast!" So far, random button-mashing is working pretty effectively at taking these guys out.
0:17 Cut scene: Another ceiling fan falls. I pick up some congratulatory pizza from the floor but one final demon steps on it. I take him out I pick up my red overcoat. "I can already tell... looks like this is gonna be one hell of a party!" The voice acting is awful but the sheer cockiness of the animation and the writing pull it together. I get graded a B for my efforts 'cause I forgot to use my "stylish" moves.
0:18 "Mission 2: The blood link." Out on the street there are more scythe-wielding fiends. "Damn it! You guys totally wrecked my shop. And I haven't even named it yet! You're going to pay for that." He throws the sword up high, puts on his trenchcoat, then catches it. He sneezes and the entire shop collapses. "I hope you all have enough to cover all this." They're monsters, I doubt they carry much money.
0:21 The game teaches me a new move to knock enemies into the air and then jump and knock 'em back down. Lots of fun. Meanwhile, the overbearing heavy metal soundtrack is awful.
0:22 I get exploded by a new enemy carrying a pulsating bomb. Gotta watch that.
0:23 I'm finally brought down after a lot of little hits from scythe guys. That bomb really hurt. The enemies are starting to gang up on attacks. I have to start worrying about my positioning. This is getting hard quick!
0:25 I just knocked a guy into the air and kept him hovering there with about two dozen bullets in a row. Awesome -- and realistic!
0:26 Hanging back and firing never-ending streams of bullets seems an effective, if slow, way to handle enemies. Don't I ever have to reload?
0:27 Boss time. Another, bigger scythe-reaper guy. He warps over from ACROSS THE ALLEY and scythes me to death. Damn. I gotta learn some defense along with my button-mashing offense, I guess.
0:29 Blowing up the bomb guy takes out all the scythe guys surrounding him. This will never get old.
0:31 This time I get boss scythe guy down to about one-third of his health through judicious dodging and jumping. I'm not consistent enough, though, and he finally gets me. As if to taunt me, the game tells me that Easy mode is now available. Ouch!
0:34 Through constant repetition, I'm actually getting better at noticing and avoiding these grunts' attacks. Jumping seems to work. When I can't dodge, I can usually blame the awful camera. Which I do.
0:36 I kill the boss with the help of a health item. Then a spiraling coliseum/tower emerges from the center of the city for some reason. The DualShock is rumbling like mad. I'm loving the stylish camerawork. "It's been nearly a year since we last met. Where does the time go? No doubt you've got some fun planned for me. Right, Virgil?" HE IS SO COOL! I get another B, this time mainly because of all the damage I took.
0:38 Virgil (my bro) and some other guy babble on about reviving an ancient evil. "The greatest minds of their time, those who revered evil, built this great edifice." Do people actually revere evil? Doesn't everyone think they're actually good?
0:40 A girl on a bike has found the tower. She motors off, leaving some scythe guys burning in the flaming exhaust. I'm sure this will make sense later. At least, I hope it will.
0:41 "Mission 3: The Devil's Tower." I buy some items and abilities before I go. The price of health rises with each purchase. Man, even the demon world is susceptible to inflation.
0:42 I'm on "Slum Avenue." I think the city council should consider renaming that. Is "Martin Luther King Blvd." taken?
0:43 New enemy alert: a many-eyed tentacle thing that fires projectiles from afar. They can't take much damage.
0:44 I'm loving the new "stinger" move I purchased. It lets Dante lunge forward to melee enemies from afar. Whoo!
0:45 So maybe I missed something, but when the enemies are all gone I'm left alone with an empty alley and nowhere to go. I accidentally go back to the area outside my office and return to find more enemies. Greeeeat.
0:48 Again I'm left with no enemies and nothing apparent to do. The path to the tower is cut off by rubble. What the hell?!
0:50 Since there's nothing else to do, I decide to kill the enemies out front of my office... again. I kill some time by pumping literally 100 bullets into the last enemy. Hey, why not?
0:51 Before I know it my office is clear and I'm left again wondering what to do. I'm definitely missing something. The game cannot be this obtuse.
0:53 Not to be a backseat game designer, but a health bar for the non-boss enemies would be nice. Meanwhile, I've discovered a fourth level of combo, the "Alright!"
0:55 Jamming the circle button around the empty alley, I get a message: "The town is devoid of life. Either the townspeople fled in fear of demons, or..." Or what? OR WHAT?
0:56 I stumble upon a map, but it's absolutely no help. It just shows me where I am, not where I should go.
0:57 Oh, good lord. I had to push the circle button next to the red door to open it. Way to make that apparent, game!
0:58 Oh, hi, honey. What? Oh, I'm just busting up tables and chairs in a deserted bar to collect red orbs. Y'know, just another day at the office.
0:59 A blue sealed door means I have to solve a "puzzle" in the room to move on. I find a glowing red wheel thing that "reacts to the sword's power." The secret to solving the puzzle is hitting it with the sword a lot! Myst this ain't.
1:00 I get a shotgun just in time to run out of time. Aww.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? It's some of the smoothest 3-D sword and gunplay I've seen, despite a somewhat fickle camera. Here's hoping the obtuse puzzle stuff stays rare.
This column was based on a used copy of the Collector's Edition purchased from a pawn shop for a ridiculously cheap price a while back.
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