It’s the year of HD remakes and Capcom is at it again.
In today’s very crowded videogame world of first person shooters, sports and party games, nostalgia is growing more and more popular by the day. Everybody and their brother seem to want remakes and re-releases nowadays and Capcom has recently been pushing them out at a feverish pace. That’s right, Capcom is at it again and has brought back demon hunter extraordinaire Dante with its release of Devil May Cry: HD Collection. In the recently released collection, players are treated to the first three of Dante’s adventures (previously released on the PlayStation 2) all included on one disc.
If you’ve been living under a videogame rock for the last 10 years and you don’t yet know the story of Dante, let me bring you up to speed real quick before moving on. Dante, who is the son of demon daddy, Sparda, has set out with the goal of avenging his mother’s murder by exterminating every last unfortunate demon that gets in his way. In the process, Dante learns about his demonic past, encounters his long lost brother, finds out who is responsible for the loss of his mother and fights a ton of crazy-ass demons. I won’t say that the story is extremely hard to follow, but as the series progresses some of the plotlines do start to get a little convoluted.
One of the very first things you’ll notice as you boot the game is that you’ll have to decide which of the three titles you’ll want to play. After you’ve made your selection, the developer made the odd decision of not letting you switch titles during your gameplay. If you decide you want to switch over to another title on the disc while playing, you’ll be required to stop playing the game and reboot the entire collection before being allowed to pick another one of the three DMC titles. I’m not sure if this was done as a cost-saving measure, but I would have liked to have had the option of quitting out of the game and launching back to the main title screen to select one of the other two titles instead of having to reboot the whole disc again. This probably is not a huge gripe in the long run, but how hard is it to program a feature that does this exact thing in today’s videogame world?
Once you get past the odd title selection menu and start getting in to the games, the best and most notable part of the gameplay has always consisted of very heavy combat and the use of some badass combos. With the use of his swords and trusty guns, Dante must attempt to extend long chains of attacks while avoiding damage in order to exhibit stylish combat in his battles with the demons. This element, along with time and the amount of items collected are taken under consideration when grading the player’s performance at the end of each level. The better you perform, the more experience points you gain as you can upgrade your weapons for more stylized attacks and devastating combos.
Now, I won’t lie to you and tell you that the Devil May Cry series has been one of my favorite series of the last 10 years because it really isn’t. I always dug the fast paced fighting and the whole focus on combos, but the original DMC in 2001 felt like an odd fighting version or Resident Evil. Heavy on the gothic feel and pumping techno-nightclub background music, which I was oddly alright with, the controls left something to be desired and the fixed camera was just plain annoying. In most of the games that are being developed today, we at least have the option that if we get in to a tight spot to where we can’t see, we rotate the camera for a better angle and subsequently can work our way out of trouble. In the first two Devil May Cry titles in the series, the fixed camera is horribly painful and is a serious part of the gameplay and is more of a hassle than what it’s worth. While the camera is only slightly better in DMC 3, it’s a simple reminder that while this franchise was considered revolutionary when it first hit home consoles, it is indeed more than 10 years old and certain aspects of the games show that more than others.
Seeing as how this title is throwing around the HD Collection tag on the cover, I still found certain aspects of the game lacking a bit in the HD area. The character models and background details look nice in their upgraded HD form, but one thing that the developers left out of the HD upgrade are the menus and certain cutscenes. You’ll notice upon your first cutscene that not much has been done to “pretty” up these sections of the game. They still have that old, dated, PS2 era look to them and that’s a little disappointing to see. You’ll also notice the menus after the game has loaded up and how instead of making them fit full screen or at a 16:9 ratio, they are left in their original 4:3 ratio for some reason. It just feels weird to have the menus like this, only to jump to full screen or 16:9 ratio when you start up the gameplay. I said in my reviews of the Resident Evil HD updates that if a developer is going to be touting the whole HD update, they could at least spend the extra time and money to make over the entire game in HD, instead of touching bits and pieces of it and then calling it done. That statement not only holds true in this Devil May Cry collection, but it should apply to every HD collection from here on out on titles that a developer deem to be HD worthy.
While portions of the games may be a bit prettier and “upgraded,” the dialogue and voice acting have all been left as we originally found them, which is not a good thing. I understand the original is well over 10 years old and this kind of voice acting was pretty standard for this type of game back then, but today’s games have come such a long way in terms of gameplay and storytelling that it’s almost comical to play these “updated” HD titles and listen to and watch what we used to put up with in our earlier gaming days.
It’s good that two of the best games in the series are part of this HD collection and they more than make up for the mediocrity of the second game, because for a price of $39.99, it really is hard to find a much better deal out there for three classic games. When all is said and done, at almost a decade old, those who’ve missed Dante and want to revisit the three titles that redefined the action genre today should purchase the Devil May Cry: HD Collection without question. Even if you fall in the new generation of gamers that possibly haven’t had a chance to give Dante a go before, this HD collection is most definitely the way to get caught up on everything Devil May Cry. Minus the weird quirks with the camera, having to reboot the disc to choose titles, menus at a 4:3 ratio and partial HD graphics, all three games is this HD collection really do stand by themselves as great games to play. So, if you have a craving for loud techno music and demon hunting, come give Dante a try and he’ll be sure you have one HELL of a time!
A copy of Devil May Cry: HD Collection for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from CAPCOM.