If there’s one thing I’m wary of, its the opinions of other gamers. Particularly when it comes to sequels, where gamers will with some regularity always hate the second game. They hated Zelda II, Pac-Man 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 (and that last one is usually a good argument for not listening to gamers on anything ever), and so on and so forth.
And now I’ve finally played Devil May Cry 2, another game with a 2 in its title that is regularly foisted against its will onto the Hate Bandwagon. And again, I found the hate to be undeserved… for the most part.
The story is exactly what I expected: Another day, another demon-hunting assignment, this time on some island that’s been taken over by a corporation that has ties to the demon realm. Also this time Dante isn’t alone in the fight–the game is two discs, with the second disc containing an extra set of missions from the perspective of a girl named Lucia, whose story mostly dovetails with Dante’s and, in a turn I consider respectable, usually doesn’t contradict it. It’s a stand-alone story, that doesn’t really leave any threads hanging or leave any cliffhangers (okay, Dante’s ending has been interpreted as one, but I don’t see it that way).
One complaint I saw a lot was that Dante apparently behaves differently than he did originally. To be honest… I don’t see it, I really don’t. The body language reads exactly like the Dante we all know and love, and as for the dialogue, while Dante makes a lot less quips he still sounds like himself when he does speak. So I don’t buy any theories that he’s been replaced by a doppleganger. This is Dante, pure and simple. Yeah, he’s acting a little more down to earth, but the way I thought about it: in the first game, he was pumped up because he thought he was gonna finally deal with his mother’s killer (and he was right). Here, its just another job for him, so he’s not as excited.
Now, here’s some complaints I personally had with the game:
1. The controls felt a little awkward to me. Dante and Lucia both had a way of suddenly switching targets mid-combo, and sometimes it didn’t even make sense, like I’d be wailing on one monkey-thing only for the heroes to decide they’d rather attack some suit of armor that is on an upper floor and behind a stone, thus causing my attacks to miss and breaking off my combo. Dante didn’t move as fluidly as in the first one, and the worst thing is there’s a kind of auto-lockon which gets annoying when all you’re trying to do is hit those magical trigger plate things and Dante keeps wanting to attack an enemy that isn’t even in Melee range.
2. The gameplay itself feels slower somehow, and not as arcade-intense as the first. I especially notice this in the combo system, where you suddenly need to do tons of damage for the game to even start grading you. And on top of that, whereas I said the first game avoided the problem of combats wearing out their welcome, in this game the combats sometimes become genuinely annoying.
3. The whole setup feels… less enthused, less inspired overall. Like when you look up enemy descriptions. In the first game, you got in-depth files that described anything about them you had personally discovered. Got hit by an interdimensional portal, the descrip mentions it. In DMC2 though, all you get is a picture and a blurb. The same goes for equipment and shopping. Hell, Ebony and Ivory are now simply called “the handguns.”
4. I really did not like Lucia’s missions. It’s not that they felt tacked on or anything, its just that… to me, Devil May Cry is Dante’s game, and it felt to me like Lucia was trespassing on his turf, if you get me. The whole time I was her, I just kept wishing I was Dante again. As for real complaints, she has this totally annoying underwater section (that doesn’t play like the ones in the first game) that I wouldn’t like to go thru again. I should note that most of my pointing out flaws is because Lucia is still fresh in my mind, and while she’s not a bad character, playing as her does make some design issues stand out more than they do for Dante, almost as if they had the story for her figured out, but didn’t fine-tune her playstyle.
5. For some reason, this time you can buy upgrades to your weapons… but I have absolutely no idea what those upgrades actually do. I never noticed. They felt like a waste of money to me, and when I was playing as Lucia I actually went almost the whole game without getting any. Another problem is that you get multiple weapons but the upgrades are expensive, so the net effect is that you’re going to stick with the weapons you upgraded just to feel like you got your Red Orb’s worth.
So, is Devil May Cry 2 a bad game? No. What it is, is the inevitable sequel, the quick follow-up to a smash hit that, for whatever reason, doesn’t quite live up, but would probably have been positively received had it been a stand-alone game, so its sequel status becomes a liability. Personally, I liked it, enough to marathon through both discs in just as many nights, and I could actually see myself returning to it somewhere down the road. It is definitely an underrated game, and nowhere near being “garbage” or whatever you’ve heard, even if I did just spend an entire blog post complaining about it.
Speaking of underrated games, what the hell is wrong with people who pick on Resident Evil: Survivor? Okay, honestly, I think the problem there is that Capcom nerfed the USA release by taking out light gun support, which probably would’ve made it a more immersive experience, but still, I thought it was a solid enough entry in the Resident Evil canon. Maybe I’ll reviewify it later.
Anyway, time to end this entry. Peace out!