Review – Devil May Cry 3

Charlton Heston defends Dante’s right to own a gun capable of unleashing God’s wrath.

As I mentioned in our last episode, Devil May Cry 2 was indicative of the dark side of Capcom; the side that sees a hot new series and can’t help but try to run it into the ground with sequels of questionable quality. Of course, that also means that there is a good side to the company (which, judging by my stack of games, has been popping up a lot more often). This good side is on display when they focus on making polished, highly playable games that don’t try to be derivative or innovative, but instead are whatever the hell they want to be. Lucky for us, this was their only choice when it came to creating Devil May Cry 3. No one was fooled by the shittiness of the second game, and along the way a little gem called Ninja Gaiden came along and became the darling of the entire community. Capcom had lost the action game crown, and they would need to bust their ass to get it back.

Thankfully, they did just that, and Capcom has more than earned back their crown. Taken as a whole, DMC3 is the best pure action game experience of this generation, and the current pinnacle of the series. It’s a little bit of the first game, a little bit of the second, and all of it is wrapped up in the very best of 80’s anime cheese. Folks, get ready to rock.

While the formula hasn’t changed much, it is amazing to see just how much DMC3 has evolved beyond its predecessors. The original game had slower, more methodical action. You watched, dodged, and struck, repeating the process until they all went down (unless you knew how to rush in and take them out before they could strike). DMC2 was much more fast paced and hectic, but lacking in any sort of strategy. With DMC3, the two philosophies are married, and the best ideas from both games have been brought back and made even better. For example, combos are once again one button only, and you can unlock new moves for each of your Devil Arms. At the same time, the stylish moves from DMC 2 make a return, and the ability to switch weapons on the fly has been extended to both kinds of arms. They’ve also kept 2’s control layout, which I like, since it makes X the jump button. There’s a whole lot more to do in this one, yet Capcom doesn’t let it overwhelm the player.

The martial artist’s mind is the only place where melee fighting can best a firearm.

In what is the biggest change to the combat system, the player is restricted as to what they can use at any given time. The stylish moves have been broken up into actual fighting styles. For example, the default Trickster style deals standard damage but offers defensive maneuvers, while Gunslinger ups the power of your firearms, while making all your stylish moves gun related. There are six styles in all, and all but two can be leveled up to earn new moves. It’s a nice little setup for you gamers who like a bit of RPG flavor in their other genres, though it is never required (the whole game can be beaten in Trickster without hassle).

Regardless of what style you’re using, you are further restricted in terms of inventory. You can enter a mission with only two guns and two Devil Arms. This may seem too limiting at first, but realize that this is not much different than the setup in the original game. In fact, the extra gun and the stylish moves give you even more options, and since the style moves are given their own button, the system really isn’t any more complex. Looking at it this way, DMC 3 is one of the deepest and most replayable action games out there. With five Devil Arms (each with their own combos), five firearms, six styles and a slew of unlockable moves, there are many different ways to tackle any given level, some easier, some harder.

As previously mentioned, the pacing and feel of the combat was a marriage of the previous two games, and this is the cause of the next biggest change. DMC 3’s combat engine is almost like a fighting game in terms of sheer speed and responsiveness. Moves can be chained and cancelled, and the engine will accept lightning fast inputs. Couple this with the styles and weapon switching, and you can lay out some ridiculously long and devastating combos. While you don’t need fighting game proficiency to succeed, you’ll have to at least get comfortable with the speed and combo potential of this new engine. Not only will it be easier, but it leads to some of the most badass scenes in action gaming.

Dante is super, thanks for asking.

There’s nothing quit as satisfying than slicing someone to ribbons with Agni and Rudra, then launching them in the air with Rebellion for an aerial combo, falling down with them in a rain of bullets, and finishing them off by using the famous Stinger move — which uses a shotgun. If they’re still not dead, you can hop on their back and spin around the room firing your pistols. Or stomp on their head and shoot till they die. Dante may be a popular pretty boy, but he’s also become the epitome of the male power fantasy. Rest assured, there are plenty of asses to be kicked.

You’ll have to earn it though, since DMC 3 is the hardest game in the series. Enemies are faster, more powerful, and attack in greater numbers than ever before. If you can’t keep up, they’re going to make you pay. The difficulty is actually an issue for me. Once again, I enjoyed the challenge and rewards that come from this kind of game, but I think that Capcom could have learned a thing or two from Ninja Gaiden. That game managed to be both difficult and rewarding. If you knew how to use the proper moves and weapons, a skilled player could fell powerful enemies with just a few hits, ending battles in seconds rather than minutes.

In DMC 3, even the best players may still take awhile to defeat a mob of enemies, simply due to the sheer amount of damage you need to inflict upon them. It’s also much harder to master the best combos in this game, whereas in Gaiden the button inputs were much more lax and player friendly. I suppose you could say that this game is even more hardcore, and that is sure to turn off some players. On the other hand, this is offset in the Special Edition by the inclusion of easier difficulties and a less punishing continue system. These additions allow a wider variety of skill levels to enjoy the game, though this only goes so far with me, since like Ninja Gaiden, the changes were added to the game after the original release.

Now then, what about the aforementioned anime cheese? Apparently Devil May Cry 3 isn’t content to just play like a classic action game. It also wants to act like it’s from that era. This is one of the most ridiculous games you will ever see, and I say that in a good way. You can’t go through a cutscene without seeing something completely over the top. You’ve got Dante fighting demons while trying to eat pizza in the most melodramatic way possible. He’ll run town a massive tower Sonic style while fighting hundreds of enemies, or maybe ride a missile like a surfboard. Weapons include an anti tank cannon, a massive bazooka, and a scythe that doubles as a bat summoning electric guitar (and yes, he does play it rock opera style). Oh, and you’ve never seen someone put on a coat like this. My roommate best described it when he said of Dante, “Does he ever get tired of being so sweet?” This game and its developers know just how crazy it is, and they just run with it through the whole game. In a genre that tries so hard to be dramatic and serious, and always falls on its face in the process, it is undeniably charming to see a game that has no shame in being as ridiculous as classic action movies and anime, and as excessive as rock opera. If you’re over 18 and can’t crack a smile while playing this game, you are a disgrace to your decade.

This game is a no brainer. At $20 for the Special Edition (with extra goodies!), Devil May Cry 3 is required reading for the PS2. Put away the angst, put away the stories, and put away the squad based tactics. Stop thinking, stop caring, and learn the joy of stomping a demon’s head and shooting them until they stop bleeding, or running around Bruce Lee style with triple nunchakus. Going to hell never felt so good.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
17 years ago

Devil May Cry 3…


17 years ago

One of the greatest games I have played for the PS2. Period.

17 years ago

hey i have this game and it rocks, im on mission 16 or something. Its the one when u invade hell and have to kill all of the bosses again i think i need some help