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[01/15/2009] Devil May Cry 2 (PAL)


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Title: Devil May Cry 2 (PAL)

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: March 28, 2003

Other stuff: 60Hz Mode

 

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Note: This review is quite extensive, and goes to more depth than usual reviews, so if you dislike reading just read the first few lines from each paragraph.

 

Devil May Cry was probably the game that set a new standard for hack and slash games. Excellent visuals, excellent soundtrack, and most importantly, a battle system that's fast and smooth as silk, coupled with excellent style direction. Story, while being somewhat generic, had nice twists and a great cast of characters. DMC had it all, so it's no surprise that a sequel had to surface sooner or later.

 

DMC2 had a lot to prove, since DMC basically reinvented the entire genre. When the game finally came out, it was mostly met with crushing critique. Somehow, the king of Hack and Slash had become a mere shadow of its former self.

 

Story

The story of DMC2 revolves around a a warlock named Arius is hellbent of finding a number of artifacts that, when brought together, open a portal to hell and summon the ultimate demon, Argosax The Chaos. Lucia, one of the few lat surviving members of an ancient clan that once fought alongside the great demon Sparda to seal the gates of Hell, enlists the aid of Dante in order to stop Arius's plan.

 

I have to make a confession early on: what I just described was something that I made up. Why? Because of the nature of the DMC2 story. It is probably the most convoluted and disjointed excuse of a video game story that I've ever seen. The game starts with Lucia eyeballing one of these artifacts in some castle when a group of demon birds attacks her. Dante busts in and takes care of business, the two exchange a few quips and then you find yourself in a dilapidated town, outside that very castle. It is never truly explained why Dante is there in the first place. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout DMC2; stuff happens without any concrete explanation as to why it happens. At one point you are a top of a industrial building, getting ready to bust Arius, then all the sudden you are in a subterranean cavern. Filling the blanks is left to the player with very little to go on.

 

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Characters

Dante: Your favorite demon hunter. was supposedly asked by Lucia to come to a remote island (I think) that is home to the HQ of Urobos Corporation, Arius's multinational venture.

Lucia: A half demon, half human woman Trying to prevent Arius from carrying out his plan.

Matier: An old coot of a woman who raised Lucia. Serves no real purpose in the story.

Arius: Wants to collect ancient artifacts in order to summon Argosax the Chaos.

 

Graphics

Another area where DMC2 sort of gets its act together, yet fails most of the time. the biggest gripe here are the textures. They are, for the most part, washed-out and dull. Strikingly enough, eveything in the game world lacks those tiny little details. Remember those cool pulsating pillars in DMC in the room where you fought the Phantom? How about the elaborate clockworks in DMC3? DMC2 has none of these. Areas are mostly large and empty. Simply put, there is nothing in the graphics that truly catches your eye. The sky textures look hideous. The monster textures apart from the Hell Goats and a few bosses look bad up close. The dilapidated town early in the game looks sorta nice, but then you realize how static it is. It gets worse the farther you go. You get to visit some caverns, and some ancient ruins, the Urobos Building, an industrial complex, to name a few, but none of these areas offer any true eye candy. Even the menus in this game looks bad, from the layout to the font. I was hoping that by the time you get to visit Hell, things would improve. No. You don't really get to visit hell, contrary to what the game would like you to believe. Sure, it's dark and trying hard to be ominous, with some different colored muddy textures, some nondescript organic structures and skewed camera angles thrown in, but that place didn't feel like Hell.

 

Devil Trigger forms look bland and they don't change at all when you switch weapons. Enemy designs and most bosses (save a few) are no different. How many palette swapped demonic skeletons in cages or demonic monkeys does one game need? Sure, one might remember the 7 Hells from DMC3 or the Marionettes from DMC, but at least those guys were visibly different from each other, be it AI, moves or personality.

 

Gameplay

Unfortunately, this is the end of the line. The aspect where DMC2 truly falls apart. The gameplay. Dante is a demon-busting machine. He does it fast and he does it in style. DMC2 isn't fast and it doesn't have style. While Dante has retained most of his basic moves and got a few new ones, execution falters badly. Date has exactly one basic combo, and two slightly different combos that come out when you start holding in a direction (!?) during some part of the basic combo. This is a stark contrast to DMC/DMC3 where alternate combos come out by delaying the button presses a tiny bit. This "hold a direction" approach has a big flaw; you'll trigger either High Time or Stinger by accident.

 

Which brings me to another low: The mighty Stinger is gimped. Instead of a very fast slide along the ground with a thunderous thrust in the end, Dante sluggishly takes two visible (!?) steps and lazily lunges his sword forward. If the move hits, the end results doesn't match the animation that preceded it; the target is blown abnormally far. High time is also gimped. because the battle system is sluggish, you need to hold Triangle way to much for the move to register. Do it wrong, and only the target goes airborne, not Dante. Do it right, and you risk of not doing the Helm Breaker. Instead you do an aerial kick combo. It looks stupid.

 

To add insult to injury. Even the finishing hits of you basic combos act like you've just pulled off a Stinger, launching the target(s) abnormally far. Which brings about to the biggest flaw: thanks to this, the Style System is effectively broken. The Style System, being integral to DMC gameplay, awards better rankings at the end of the mission as well as more orbs when you keep your Style ranking up by disposing enemies fast and in style. In DMC2, not only do the Style ranks you earn lose their effect too quickly, making it very difficult to get a higher rank, but because most of your attacks launch enemies far away, you'll never be able to keep the Style rank up because your precious time is wasted on trying to catch up with your enemies. Ultimately, this means that the entire Style System is completely broken, because it is nigh impossible to ever attain a "Stylish!" ranking, thus making it nigh impossible to ever get an S rank in a given mission.

 

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As far as other gameplay elements go, the circle button is now a universal dodge button. it is used to dodge in various directions (no more dodging via R1 + Jump) as well as doing the wall run techniques. Speaking of wall run, the damn thing is completely useless. You'll never need it, and it works against you rather than aids you. Speaking of useless moves, another one is the new Bullet Rain that is only usable during one boss fight. DMC2 has an auto-lock feature that seems to have a mind of its own. You can keep you lock trained by keeping the R1 pushed down. If you accidentally release R1, the game always picks the closest enemy to you, even if you happen to be juggling one enemy in the air. Guns are far too powerful, more powerful than melee weapons, dare I say so. Dante's pistols even have a sort of an auto-lift mechanism which automatically starts to lift an opponent in the airs after you shot it a few times.

 

Playing as Lucia doesn't bring much of anything new on the table. Instead of guns, she uses daggers, and instead of a sword, she uses two cutlasses. She is supposedly nimbler and faster, and she has more hits in her combos. She has more or less the same mission layout as Dante, although shorter and goes through levels in a slightly different order. She also has a completely unique underwater level. Said level is the worst level in the game despite its rather nice design.

 

One of the final big Changes in DMC2 is how the Devil Trigger works. Sure, pushing L1 switches the devil form of Lucia/Dante, but it is the Devil Amulets than can be equipped that change how the devil form functions. One amulet speeds up regeneration, while others give elemental attributes to your attacks. You guessed it though, even this "feature" is more of an annoyance than a truly valuable asset in combat. For example, both Lucia and Dante get an amulet that enable them to fly while in DT. This flying ability is used to pass certain missions. It is useless in combat. In a similar fashion, I don't think the Flame/Electroheart amulets truly give you an edge in elemental damage, they simply up your attack power (Fire) or stun longer (Electro). Or somesuch. Speaking of moves, there are no new moves to learn in DMC2. None.

 

You know everything you ever need to know from the get-go. The only thing you get in DT mode is one additional finishing strike. You have double jump from the start. You don't get to charge you firearms. The only charge is when DT'd and your guns will fire at blistering speed. Lucia throws 8 daggers at once and they all home in on the locked enemy. That's it. The only upgrade you can do is to upgrade weapons. By upgrade I mean slight increase their damage output, nothing more. The new melee weapons that you get are not really different at all from each other, one has shorter reach but is stronger, while the other has longer reach but is weaker. At least the firearms have some tangible differences that are useful in different situations.

 

Puzzles have been dumbed down. All you do is hit switches to activate something. No bringing certain items to certain locations. It's either weak attempts at basic platform jumping or hitting switches. Not much else. There are no puzzle elements in boss fights (see: DMC's Nightmare, Doppelganger in DMC3).

 

AI, and difficulty, controls and camera

DMC2 starts on the Normal difficulty by default. Save the last couple of bosses, the game is almost ridiculously easy. All the enemies save the Goats are stupid as bricks and will often just stand around until you get close enough for them to "activate". The only bright spots are the Goats which present somewhat of a challenge in large groups and actually have more than one attack. The bosses are really not much different. If they are not easy as is, the developers opted to raise the difficulty so that instead of being interesting with varied attacks and forcing you to have some kind of a strategy, the bosses are incredibly cheap. Most bosses that are hard are only hard because they have reinforcements (Arius) or multiple targets (Jokatgulm). It's not uncommon for the poor targeting system to target some two-bit basic enemy from behind you than the actual boss. The bosses are poorly designed, designed so that it is often impossible to get within an arm's reach to fight head-on. Either they are cheap, using seemingly unavoidable attacks that knock you far away, or you can't get near them to begin with. Which brings back the monotonic gunplay, in the sense that it is safer just to shoot at the boss from a far, rather that risk your neck at a close range battle.

 

Or vice versa.

 

Surprisingly, the controls are fine. One button is used solely for dodging and all the other controls behave how you'd expect them to. Regarding the PAL release, the manual in this matter is unforgivable. It boldly claims that you can change your controls from the Options menu, yet no such Controls-options exists in the game. The manual goes as far as to illustrate this with a picture, and no Controls-option appears in the picture either. The manual also makes other completely invalid claims concerning non-existent gameplay elements, such as unlocking the Easy Automatic Mode (which, again, does not exist, because the game starts with that) + a mention of an item that supposedly cures a status ailment (no such item exist in the game and the only status effect is poison, which wears off after a short while).

 

When you get to Lucia's underwater level, the game throws a tantrum with the controls, and turns even more sluggish and poorly designed. Not only is the swimming a pain in the ass thanks to the crappy camera system, but you are also forced to fight underwater. No combos, just slow slashes. Devil Trigger doesn't make things any easier nor faster. The camera system is universally bad in this game, not just because of the underwater level. The camera is either too close, too far, too high or too low, and you'll be targeting things off screen all the time. There are a few annoying jumping sections in the game, and the camera system definitely doesn't help there, although there are a few instances where it's positioned quite nicely. An exception to the rule more than anything.

 

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Music, sound, and voice acting

So far, the soundtrack is the only thing that DMC2 doesn't fail at. Seriously, it's good. The boss and basic battle tracks are cool, and the level music is fitting. Despite the praise, DMC2's soundtrack doesn't have that same level of awesomeness DMC has. Sound effects aren't bad either, and it's nothing overly bad or something worth a million praises.

 

Voice acting on the other hand, is ABYSMAL. I can't believe what trash comes out when the characters talk. The stupendously bad script is one thing, but for the love of god, how talentless can voice actors be? Lucia's accent is so fake that it makes my ears bleed. Dante, sounds stiff but then again, he doesn't have many lines to begin with. Arius is by far the worst offender. At one time he tries to sound ominous and evil, and failing at it hard. The next, he sounds like a some hyperactive kid. Ugh.

 

DMC and DMC3 (and why not DMC4 too) boss characters had distinct voice actors that gave them loads of personality. None of the bosses in DMC2 speak. Well, since the bosses are cut and paste jobs that have no real connection to the story, what can you expect?

 

Summary

I keep asking myself time and time again while playing this game, How could it have possibly turned out the way it did. The amount of faults in DMC2 is mind-boggling. The game forces you to play through two discs with the same environments, just to see the end credits (no, just clearing Dante's disc gives you a hearty "Next Try Lucia's Challenge"). Lucia and Dante aren't different enough, most of their new moves are completely useless. The graphics are muddy and the level design is uninspired, save for a few spots. The gameplay is slow and broken, the story is a joke. It's funny how playing Dante's disc introduces so many inconsistencies and plot holes, and Lucia's disc only fixes a handful of them, while making equal amount of poor sense. The boss designs have nothing to do with the story and are mostly weak. Even the fight with the Phantom is mere fanservice. The game is too easy and the latter bosses are cheap. I suppose the DMD mode will be somewhat more challenging if GameFAQs people are to be believed.

 

For a Devil May Cry game, DMC2 is a profound travesty. It's unbelievable how the developers can so easily overlook practically everything that made the first game good, and replace it with the broken mess that is the gameplay, style, and story. It's way too short, way too forgiving and way too easy, and when it's hard, it's hard for the wrong reasons. Playing it made me realize again why I hated the game when I first played it. Still, DMC2 feels rather OK at times, although it is only a fleeting feeling. The game is best played with the mindset that it is not a DMC game at all, but a mediocre DMC ripoff because it stands fairly well on its own - start comparing it to other DMC games and this title goes down the drain fast. Then again, the game will always compared to others in the same series.

 

Sarcastically speaking, I recommend that you give DMC2 a go, and finish both discs. It won't take a lot of time, and you'll get access to some extras that are going elevate the experience slightly. Plus, the game is dirt cheap, so I don't think you'll feel bad even if you happen to buy it for like, $5 or so. This game has a few good moments, but you'll be constantly reminded that this is the black sheep of the series.

 

Pros:

 

+Good soundtrack

+Dante looks properly aged

+Nice level design early on

+Dante and Lucia are animated very smoothly

+few boss designs are cool

 

Cons:

 

-A whole lot

-The gameplay mechanics are broken, slow, and/or undermine the player

-The DMC feel is mostly gone

-Story is a disjointed swiss cheese, nothing makes much sense

-Need to play through to discs in order to see the ending

-The content of the discs is basically the same

-Poor enemy and boss design

-Poor texture work

-Small details are scarce

-Poor camera & targeting system

-Abysmal voice acting

-Everything is huge and empty

-Manual makes empty promises

 

Grades:

 

Story: 4

Gameplay: 6

Graphics: 7

Music/sound: 8

Feel: 6

 

Total: 6.2

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I win, because I read every word. That was a very elaborate review, it's some of the few that I read other than my own. It was very detailed, bad games tend to make a person comment on the game more, often times.

 

When I completed this game, I was about fourteen years old. I received it for Christmas in 2004, along with "Vexx" for the PS2, which was a very mediocre platformer. At the time, I wasn't really an established gamer, and I cannot remember much of how the gameplay was like.

 

I can say that, I don't remember it being very difficult. I played Devil May Cry months ago and it turned out to be much more difficult than Devil May Cry 4 at first play. I remember completing Dante's disc and never touching the other. At the time I was only interested in completing his story specifically, and her disc wasn't something that I felt like I was obligated to play through.

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I just tried Devil May Cry 3.... to see what happens... and I really expected to find a real story to follow... but all I saw.. was a very cool guy being interrupted while he was eating a pizza... and killing for fun... I hope the gameplay will keep me interested on it... lol...

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