IGN Review of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition (Red)
It's been almost a year since Capcom unleashed Devil May Cry 3 in North America, but its position as one of the system's best action titles still stands today. Unfortunately for it, the game was released in a year that saw the fantastic Resident Evil 4 and the equally incredible God of War dominate popular opinion -- and let's face it, between the two of them, the adventures of Kratos and Leon collectively raised expectations. But that's why I'm hoping that players who never gave Dante's Awakening a chance the first time will give Capcom's "Special Edition" re-release a second look... if they do, I believe they'll find it to be an experience every bit as good as 2005's biggest and most popular award-winners.
Now keep in mind, this examination is stringently focused on the new features that have been added to Devil May Cry 3 in the ten months following its release.
Having reviewed the original DMC3 last year, I find it a bit repetitive to cover most of the game's aspects all over again. If you're looking for an in-depth analysis of the gameplay system, the atmosphere, and how it all ties together, then by all means head on over to the article posted last February. If you like your summations quick and dirty, however, know this: Devil May Cry 3 is a fast, challenging, great-looking game that kicks serious demon ass with multiple fighting styles, gun types, and pointy things. Sound good? Good, read on!
Surprisingly, the star of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Special Edition isn't actually Dante... but rather, his bad guy twin brother Vergil (Don't worry, you can still play as Dante in exactly the same manner as before). What's cool about this extra addition is that Vergil isn't just some palette swap of Dante with an extra animation or two -- he's a completely unique character that plays entirely different from his brother. The downside is that Vergil is only limited to one combat style throughout the entire game (Dark Slayer) as opposed to Dante's six. But if you don't mind using a smaller set of maneuvers and attacks, this one-style restriction doesn't matter at all. The reason? Vergil is so powerful that he can wipe out a wave of enemies that took Dante a few minutes to overcome in a matter of seconds.
In a way, Vergil's extreme power is another drawback. As cool as it is to totally annihilate anything that gets in your way, a lot of what made Devil May Cry 3 cool was its extreme challenge and need to figure out what fighting style would work best for what stage. When playing as Vergil, however, those factors become a non-issue and the excitement of being caught up in a potentially dangerous demon-drubbing isn't nearly as great. Then again, there is a great satisfaction in being a walking, talking, rip-ass god of destruction, so Vergil's added power has its advantages too.
While we're on the subject of challenges, DMC3 SE also adds an all-new difficulty setting known as "Very Hard Mode." As if the game wasn't tough before, the developers got together and decided making your thumbs bleed with endless reflex tests wasn't enough. Apparently, it was also a good idea to bring about acute arthritic finger bone attacks about 50-years too early... or at least, that's what the back of the box would have you believe. In all actuality, DMC3 is surprisingly easier than it was before. This is because the advertised "Very Hard" Mode is just the renamed Hard Mode that had previously been exclusive to U.S. versions of the game -- while Normal is now the equivalent of the last game's Easy setting. Surprising, but true.
One of the better new additions to Devil May Cry 3 is the reinstitution of the Japanese save system. In last year's version, you could only have as many checkpoints as you had Yellow Orbs (thus adding another layer of difficulty to an already-difficult game). The Japanese edition, on the other hand, used a Ninja Gaiden-type save system where you had as many checkpoints as needed. The latter is a much easier system to employ luckily, and when coupled with the readjusted difficulty setting makes the game a lot easier for casual players -- smart move.
If a whole extra character and the readjusted balancing isn't enough for you, Dante's Awakening SE also adds a number of other cool little tweaks and features. The brand new "Demo Digest," for example, allows users to replay all the cutscenes they've unlocked throughout their adventure (be they Dante's or Vergil's), while the cool "Bloody Palace" mode allows masochists to throw themselves into an almost ten thousand-level dungeon against a barrage of hungry enemies. Capcom has even instituted a "Turbo Mode" that ups gameplay speed by roughly 20%. Honestly, the difference between turbo and normal game speed didn't seem very obvious, but hey... at least it's in there. There are a couple of other neat little goodies worth mentioning as well, but those are better left for you to discover along the way.
So, with all these extras piled on top of an already-excellent game, what could possibly be wrong with it? Sadly there are a couple of hitches (both old and new) that, while not the end of the world, does take away from the experience a bit. For one, the nagging camera control problem that pops up in narrow corridors still hasn't been fixed. The need to frequently backtrack hasn't been adjusted at all either, and the difficulty level may still be a little frustrating for some despite its easier tone. Perhaps the most obvious issue, though, isn't a technical one at all -- but the fact that most of the new content (Bloody Palace, Vergil's Story, Very Hard Mode, etc) can't be unlocked unless you beat the game or import a save from DMC3. Personally, none of the locked content bothered me at all except for the Vergil bit -- as an advertised character and the biggest new feature of the game, he should be immediately selectable from the beginning regardless of your experience with the series.
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