[i]Devil May Cry 3[/i], quite possibly the best action game of 2005, gets a budget re-release, with heaps of extras and adjusted difficulties! But do the extras warrant getting it again? Let’s see…
For those not familiar with [i]Devil May Cry 3[/i], it’s a prequel to [i]DMC[/i]. Dante, the main character, is a half human-half demon. He’s got strength, endurance, and plenty of style. As the game starts, he’s just setting up his business and hasn’t picked a name for it yet. He gets attacked in his ‘office’ by demons, and shortly thereafter his estranged brother appears at the top of a huge tower. Dante takes the hint, and goes off to meet Vergil, his brother, at the tower. As the player, you guide Dante through a seemingly endless army of grim reaper-esque demons, each named after one of the seven deadly sins, dispatching them in the most stylish way possible. A Style Meter is displayed at the top, ranging from Crazy to SSStylish. One of your final rankings at the end of a mission depends on how much Style you’ve accumulated. There are a few puzzles thrown in along the way, but nothing too taxing; the game’s main focus is combat. And it does it well.
Dante is given 4 weapon ‘slots’; two for melee, and two for firearms. At the start of each mission, Dante is given the option of swapping out these 4 weapons. During the actual gameplay, Dante can swap between his two melee weapons at the touch of R2, and his two firearms with L2. At the start, Dante has only one melee weapon, the well balanced Rebellion sword, and one firearm, the twin pistols Ebony and Ivory. Though the weapon system is based around customization, many gamers won’t stray far from these two weapons: they’re the defaults for a reason.
The other customizable aspect is Dante’s style; which is something you can change at the beginning of each mission. The four default styles – Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger and Royal Guard, are each activated by the O button. Each style furnishes Dante with extra manoeuvres: Trickster providing evasion tactics, Royal Guard giving defensive moves. Swordmaster awards each melee weapon with extra moves, as Gunslinger does with firearms. These diverse styles allow for the player to pick a fighting style that suits them best – all offensive, or self preservation. In addition to these four styles, an extra two are unlocked during the course of the game. The extra two are not full featured styles as such, but rather like tacked on skills. Still, they both have their uses: One slows down all the enemies, allowing Dante to strike out with ease. The other rewards Dante with double damage, for a short time.
One other facet of combat is the Devil Trigger. Though not usable at the start, the Devil Trigger becomes a vital part of your repertoire as soon as you obtain it. Once activated, Dante takes on a demonic appearance relative to the weapon he’s wielding. During Devil Trigger, Dante moves faster, and deals out more damage. Alternatively, the Devil Trigger can be charged, released in the form of an explosion which instantly decimates any nearby enemies. It’s a tough call between using the Devil Trigger, or causing an explosion – both are incredibly useful in a tight spot.
If you stand still, and look very closely, the graphics aren’t amazing. Fortunately, most of the time, you’ll be too enraptured with an intense fight to even notice. Incredibly, there is no slowdown. Considering the speed at which things run, and the amount of things happening on screen at any given time, and that it’s being played on the PS2, this is nothing short of miraculous. The only problem here is load times. The in game menu is the main offender; taking several seconds to load up. This is a poor contrast to the high speed gameplay.
The music is what you’d expect: heavy , linkin park-esque rock. Most of the time, it works great. In the rare instances where you’re not fighting, the music drops to a mellow haunting tone. Cutscenes are handled well, though a few around the middle of the game seem to be filler content; nothing really happens. The boss fights are fairly spectacular, and the clashes with Vergil are nothing short of epic.
Speaking of Vergil; this is the reason why you should buy Special Edition, even if you own [i]DMC3[/i] – Vergil is now a playable character. Rather than being a crappy palette swap, Vergil is a full fledged alternative character, with a radically different playing style. He gets 3 unique weapons, and his own style – Darkslayer (an upgraded Trickster). It goes without saying that playing as Vergil is an entirely new experience. He has no guns for a start – Vergil doesn’t see them as true weapons of a warrior. In place of firearms, Vergil has Phantom Swords; magically summoned blades which fire into enemies. The advantage here is that the Phantom Swords appear around Vergil – meaning he can fire away at any time, even in the middle of an attack. Since Vergil only has melee weapons, the weapon switch tabs are changed so that all three are selectable at once, pushing L2 or R2 will cycle between the three weapons clockwise or counter clockwise. Additionally, all of Vergil’s arms are available at the start. Since Vergil only has one style, and three weapons, it could be seen as a half assed job. This is not the case though; Vergil simply offers a more conserved playing style. His tools of destruction are simpler to use, but require well thought out strategies to achieve the same Style results as Dante.
Vergil has no story of his own. He plays through Dante’s game, sans cutscenes. Strangely, when you get to one of the Vergil boss fights, you have to battle against yourself, in a red coat (This guy has been dubbed ‘Vante’ by fans). Though this has caused some controversy, the simple fact is that a Dante boss fight would just not work. That aside, Vergil has been well accepted among the [i]DMC[/i] elite. Though it may take some time getting used to the lack of customization, playing as Vergil pays off.
Vergil is not the only new addition. The new Bloody Palace mode is a welcome addition. It places Dante or Vergil in a 9999 level endurance game, against any possible combination of any of the enemies and bosses in the game. If you tire of the main game, there are 9999 combinations of hurt awaiting you here. Of course, those persistent enough to beat the Bloody Palace are well rewarded…
There’s one new boss included in both Vergil’s and Dante’s game: Jester. The clown everyone loves to hate. Now you get to beat him down. He now appears three times in the game. You have to beat him once, in a compulsory fight. After that, he’s an optional (though fun) battle. And he bleeds confetti. Oh yes…
Additionally, the game is comprised of both the Japanese and US difficulty levels. At the start of the game, you must choose between Gold and Yellow orbs (this determines the continue system later on. Gold is the Japanese system – you’re revived on the spot where you fell provided you have a Gold Orb, and get infinite continues. Yellow is the US system – you return outside the room you died in, and can only continue if you have a Yellow Orb. Also, the actual difficulty levels have been rearranged (But the observant will realise that all the original difficulties are still intact). Finally, the game has gained a “Turbo Mode”. When activated, the gameplay is sped up by 20%. While on turbo mode, everything (including Dante / Vergil) moves faster, but your Style rating doesn’t fall 20% faster. To that end, playing on turbo mode actually makes the game easier, if your reflexes are up to scratch.
So, is it worth it? If you’ve never played [i]DMC3[/i], then yes. Absolutely. This is a necessary game, which deserves your attention. If you played [i]DMC3[/i] to death, then Vergil, and the Bloody Palace are reasons enough to pick it up. I have to say… this is worth trading in your old copy of [i]DMC3[/i] to get: it has everything of the old one, and so much more. And of course, it’s at a knockdown price. You really have nothing to lose here.