The Devil May Cry series set a bold precedent for action games in the early 2000s. Each of the first three games created challenging, stylish, and intense experiences, forcing players to learn combat, special moves, and evasion to survive. Now, Capcom and Pipeworks have brought the three original games together and packaged them into an HD collection. After battling through roughly half of each game in the set, certain elements gained clarity. The collection delivers all the great content of the originals, but it feels aged by the frustrating camera and lack of consistency in their HD upgrades.
Devil May Cry HD Video Review
The Devil May Cry HD Collection includes Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 2, and Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening for the reasonable price of $40. The content remains true to the originals, making the graphical updates a key addition. Also, this is the first time these titles are available to Xbox gamers. The games follow Dante, the demon slaying son of an infamous demon named Sparda. Through the three games, Dante meets a cast of eclectic characters and winds deeper and deeper into the split world between hell and earth. Thousands of demons want to kill him and will do whatever it takes to make this happen (he gets horribly mauled during countless cut-scenes -- but heals up just fine).
The story isn't what makes this series good. There are so many odd dialogue choices and character twists that it's difficult to keep up. But the extent to which all three Devil May Cry games dance into the ridiculous is also what makes them special. The dialogue, violence, and events border the ridiculous; riding a missile around, firing bullets into pool balls to accelerate them, and getting stabbed through the chest with an electric sword all make the experience special. The Devil May Cry series presents its own universe of weird, and it's exciting for all involved.
The defining factor in the series is combat. Dante begins each game with a sword and a pair of pistols. Balancing the two weapons creates combos which are ranked for style and evaluated at the end of each level. Through each game, Dante unlocks additional guns and new melee weapons, making variety and choice an aspect in every scenario. Each weapon can be upgraded using earned currency, and these unlocks create an additional level of skill as new moves and combos get introduced. This fluid and exciting combat retains its original sheen and feels as smooth as ever.
But along with the classic content, all three Devil May Cry titles showcase their biggest problem: the camera. Whether it's jarring shifts that throw off the controls, or simply not seeing the path through a level, the angles are maddening. This element of the franchise did not age well. Only Devil May Cry 3 offers up a movable camera in certain situations, but still forces perspective in others, and Devil May Cry 2's attempt to open up the world for exploration gets shackled by confusing angles and brash swoops. For anyone who skipped the series during its original run, this element alone is enough to make the trilogy a trudge.
From first loading the game, there's an inconvenient split announced by a warning when choosing between the three titles. Load any one of them, and you're trapped inside it. This isn't unusual for HD collections, but when you can't switch between the Dante and Lucia campaigns in Devil May Cry 2 without quitting entirely, it feels disjointed. Granted, once you're in any of the three games you'll probably stay there for a while, but completely exiting a game to get back to the central hub is annoying.
But that's how authentic each title is. Not only does each Devil May Cry operate as a lone entity, they carry all of the pieces that entails. Pause menus -- most notably in 1 and 2 -- scrap the widescreen re-release in favor of their original 4:3 ratio. The pre-rendered cut-scenes retain their dated look, bringing all the pixilation of the original cut along with them. These stark transitions consistently remind the player how much these games have aged. There's also a disconnect in exactly what gets the HD overhaul. The in-game character models look fantastic and are smoothly animated, but a lot of textures simply look stretched-out and blocky, and certain animations appear worse than they were the first time around.
The Devil May Cry HD Collection’s best assets are its price and the sheer quantity of content. But as years have gone by, the camera stands out as a sore spot on this iconic action series. The combat, difficulty, and highly-critical rating system make it an exciting piece of gaming history and worth checking out if you missed it the first time around. You may break a few controllers in frustration, but so did everyone else a decade ago.