When Devil May Cry came out, it was a revelation. Dripping with post-Matrix cool, its mix of stylised violence and stringent rankings set the tone for a generation of Japanese action games. But in the ten years since its release, the genre has moved on, helped in no small part by at least one of the sequels included in this HD package, and what was once a blindingly fast ballet of bullets and blades has become a little sluggish.
Whilst the three games that make up the Devil May Cry HD Collection might have lost a little of their rapid fire spark, they’re still worth revisiting to watch how the series developed. From the crumbling castle and demon dimensions of the first game, through the cobbled streets and rooftops of the misfiring second, and the clashing swords and dilapidated tower of the glorious third, this budget priced release offers a treasure trove for fans of the genre.
All three titles are bound together by the various idiosyncrasies that became hallmarks of the series. A brilliant blend of razor sharp sword play and infinitely loaded weapons; bizarre narratives pushed on by disjointed cut-scenes and odd dialogue choices; glowing orbs that replenish health or magic, or that can be spent to increase the killing power of your various weapons; and those weapons themselves, iconic pistols in black and white, and glittering demon forged blades that carve arcs in the air as they’re swung.
The HD transformations here aren’t as great as some others we’ve seen, with the first game in particular looking a little underwhelming in its new glossy coat. The original menus remain in place too, creating some jarring changes between bordered level selects and widescreen action. The package isn’t a terrible one, but when you compare it to Devil May Cry 4, Dante’s only current gen outing so far, things do start to look clunky.
Devil May Cry 2 is the runt of the litter. Panned on its original release, time has done nothing to improve it. It takes the worst parts of the series, namely its fixed camera and nonsensical story, and turns them into even bigger crutches than before. Often you’ll be striding around an empty space, blasting at a creature you can’t even see because the camera is pointing in the wrong direction.
Luckily, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening more than makes up for its slightly deformed older sibling. A prequel to the first two games, it’s a bombastic return to form, with an intricate combat system that some think still hasn’t been bettered. It’s a tough old beast though, even by today’s standards, and punishes mistakes with swift deaths.
Some of the content here is past its sell-by-date, but a discount price point, and what amounts to a definitive version of DMC3, more than make up for that. For fans of the series, the nostalgic lure will likely be too strong to resist, but newcomers might find the slightly shoddy HD and the less refined gameplay of the first two games a tad off putting.