Devil May Cry: HD Collection

Between the three games, there’s enough done right to appeal to just about everyone, whether players are new or well versed in games.

Devil May Cry: HD Collection

Publisher: Capcom
Rated: Mature
Players: 1
Price: $39.99
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed) Playstation 3,
Developer: Capcom
Release date: 2012-04-03

When it was first released in 2001, Devil May Cry was a hodgepodge of ideas strung together. Originally designed to be a part of Capcom’s main franchise, Resident Evil. Devil May Cry quickly took off in its own direction. It took the gothic atmosphere of Resident Evil, based the mechanics on old school brawlers, and threw a few simplified platforming puzzles in the style of Prince of Persia. The result is a memorable series that has rightfully become one of those games that you really ought to play.

Devil May Cry borrows ideas from so many different sources, but in this case, the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. The way that it utilizes brawling like that of God of War within claustrophobic, survival horror settings adds feelings of both power and vulnerability. It’s a unique duality watching protagonist Dante rip through a room full of enemies while still leaving the player feeling trapped and exposed. Most of the enemies, particularly those from the first game, are extremely well designed. Enemies jerk and lumber unnaturally. They’re uncanny, and they have a creepiness to them that holds even after they fall by the dozen. Variations on each enemy type keep encounters fresh even late into the game.

Where the game really excels is in the setting. The locations really set the tone of the game. The three games are set in an abandoned castle, a town, and a demonic tower respectively. The way that a stone pillar gyrates almost like it’s alive and the existence of cobwebbed portraits along a corridor both color the mood for the player. Again, the first game is especially detailed, and the castle almost takes on a personality of its own after enough time in it. It might not seem like much, but the first Devil May Cry uses fixed camera angles better than just about any other game. The player is always getting a well-directed shot of the environment without ever feeling like the camera is abandoning Dante halfway through a jump or in the middle of a fight.

However, as good as the environment is at establishing atmosphere, it’s often difficult to tell exactly what the atmosphere is supposed to be. A clock tower will chime in the distance and a low Gregorian chant will drone over an empty cathedral, but the second that an enemy appears the soundtrack jumps into pseudo-thrash-metal until it’s clear again. It could be re-emphasizing that Dante is both in danger and dangerous, but jumping from calm to excitation feels jarring at times.

The cutscenes also feel somewhat jarring. Not because they’re ill-timed or even that they’re too frequent. It’s because the story is so flimsy and the characters so shallow that it adds a layer of awkward self-parody onto the narrative. The series follows Dante, a devil hunter, as he hunts devils. Dante’s father, Sparda, was a devil himself who decided to defend the human world as arbitrarily as the devils decided to attack it. Dante’s only personality trait is smugness. He wisecracks his way through everything, and his ego is off-putting at best. Throughout the second game, Dante suffers a massive character shift. and seeing him without his only defining feature, his smugness, really shows how hollow he is as a person. He’s an anime trope, his lack of personality doesn’t break any of the games. but it’s hard to feel invested in the series as a whole when it follows a person that is unrelatable, even in a world that feels so alive.

In terms of gameplay, the series has done a good job of remaining constant. The same basic variety of enemies reappear for each installment and similar puzzles require similar moves to solve. Transitioning from one game to the next is smooth and comfortable. In fact, without the cutscenes to tell the player otherwise, one could conceivably believe that the whole experience all fits together in one game rather than is a series. That’s not a mark against it either. It’s a sign of how well Capcom have created a space for their franchise.

There’s a marked decrease in quality in the second game. Levels grow stale more quickly, and the move-set is much more simplified, but even at its lowest. Devil May Cry still makes for a good game. The hacking and slashing is adequate, and there’s enough platforming to keep things interesting. The story is a grocery list of anime clichés hastily mashed together, but it plays well enough and the care that went into designing the levels makes its faults worth forgiving. The timing of the collection is excellent. With Capcom’s controversial, grittier reboot of the series on the way, it offers a perfect opportunity to see the series’ origins.

Devil May Cry isn’t perfect but it has a lot going for it. They aren’t one-of-a-kind games but, they are an excellent example of the form. For those with any interest in the series, the HD collection is certainly a better alternative to scouring used games bins. Between the three games, there’s enough done right to appeal to just about everyone, those that are new or that are well versed in games. Devil May Cry raised the standard of action games, and while it still hasn’t been ten years since the original release, a lot has happened in games. It’s nice to see such an important series brought together in a convenient package, even if it does proudly boasts its B-movie action-horror story. Mechanically, though, it would still be considered excellent even if it were released today.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.