Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition (PlayStation 2) Review

By Renan Fontes 04.09.2016

Review for Devil May Cry 3: Dante

Having squandered its goodwill with a large chunk of the fanbase, Capcom was in a tough bind with the Devil May Cry franchise. Devil May Cry 2, even with its wealth of new ideas and features brought into the fray, fell victim to its own desire to streamline the combat and difficulty. With a series at stake, Devil May Cry 3 looked to its progenitor for as much inspiration as possible. Bringing back DMC2's quantity, while trying to implement DMC1's quality, the series delves into the origins of its red jacketed hero.

One of the smartest ways that Devil May Cry 3 harkens back to the original is by downsizing its scope. Devil May Cry 2 had a big focus on making sure environments were spacious and that the story was a grand epic, but that only resulted in large arenas lacking cohesive design and a very disconnected, impersonal adventure with little flavour. By bringing the scope back down in both gameplay and story, DMC3 manages to emulate that tight level of design the first game was known for, while also injecting its own charm and temperament into the series.

Wasting no time at all to show it has learned from mistakes, the scaled back perspective is seen as early as the first mission. Taking place in a small box-shaped shop, enemies are spawned into the arena either when Dante (or second playable character, Vergil) clears the current swarm or starts taking too long. The battleground is small enough that enemies can't get away or hide, but large enough that Dante can experiment and get accustomed to the newly-introduced combat mechanics.

Playing off of the level system that DMC2 brought in, the style system is born. Dante has a choice of four different "styles" to choose from at the beginning of each mission: Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royalguard.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition on PlayStation 2

Each style can be levelled up from collecting red orbs and defeating enemies, and they affect how Dante plays. Trickster gives Dante a dedicated dodge and is designed around getting him out of tough situations as quickly as possible. Swordmaster increases the damage of Dante's melee weapons and opens up a new set of moves for them. Gunslinger takes on the same properties of Swordmaster, but in favour of ranged weapons. Lastly, Royalguard gives Dante a dedicated guard and proper counter, giving a deeper emphasis on precision-based combat.

This time around, Dante has ten different weapons to choose from, and, unlike in Devil May Cry 2, they each have their own unique properties and moves that can be chained in and out of each other. With five melee weapons and five ranged weapons, Dante can bring two of each into any given mission. Weapons can be switched mid-battle at the flick of a button, giving more variety than ever to the combos Dante can execute.

With so many new tools at his disposal, Devil May Cry 3 could easily fall into the trap of giving Dante too much and his opposition too little, but thankfully the difficulty's been ramped up even higher than it was in DMC1.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition on PlayStation 2

The enemy is AI is much smarter than it was, ganging up on and countering Dante with their own abilities. Bosses, too, put their all into every battle, posing legitimate challenges based on skill instead of artificial numbers and stats.

Better boss AI is also met with better boss personalities. Even though most bosses only appear for the one mission they're fought in this time around, they're arguably more life-like than ever before. Boss cut-scenes mark some of the highlights of the story, filled with genuinely rich and witty banter between Dante and his newfound opponent.

Where Dante's cocky attitude was mixed with a calm demeanour in DMC1, Devil May Cry 3 focuses on a younger and more reckless Dante, building him from snarky, apathetic teenager to still snarky, but sympathetic adult. While the story does take a backseat to the rich action, there's a genuine effort made to add depth to the cast and world.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition on PlayStation 2

Dialling back the scope to a more intimate level doesn't mean big moments are lacking, though. DMC3 makes the most out of its set pieces and properly utilises large arenas the few times they appear by designing the enemies to the area. Roomy levels either feature larger enemies, big hoards, or flying enemies, but this time around Dante has the means of properly fighting back in a fun, and fast way.

The side content only amplifies just how well designed DMC3 is. Vergil's story mode features the same missions as Dante, but he plays so radically different that it feels like an entirely different game at times. Bloody Palace is back, as well, and it's better than ever thanks to its impressive 9999 different layouts.

Moderation is key with Devil May Cry 3 and that's where its best aspects shine. There probably could have been more weapons, bosses, and missions, but more would have meant less polish and worse gameplay pacing. Missions slowly build up to bigger and harder areas, while weapons are given out every few missions so they don't get completely overshadowed by new equipment. Each boss demonstrates a different way to tackle the design and mechanics, slowly teaching advanced controls and manoeuvres, and with 20 missions, Dante's adventure neither ends too soon or goes on for too long. It's the sequel Devil May Cry needed, taking everything that made it so great and making it even better.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition on PlayStation 2

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Even though Devil May Cry 3 primarily fleshes out design choices from DMC1, it brilliantly doesn't ignore the contributions and ideas DMC2 brought to the table, instead utilising them and fleshing them out to their absolute fullest. Airtight level design, reflex-based action, a proper levelling system, and multiple playable characters are all masterfully blended together into one complete package. DMC3 not only builds from previous instalments, it adds its own ideas. The addition of the style system keeps the combat incredibly fresh and adds even more replay value, and the focus on a more personal, character-driven story does wonders for the world building and lore of the series. Featuring the best gameplay the series has seen, with the best variety, Devil May Cry 3 defies all expectations and delivers an experience that can only be deemed "classic."

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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