Ask any serious gamer about the original Devil May Cry and you’ll find that the game quickly established itself as a synonym for hardcore, and almost achieved a cult following despite the fact that it didn’t sell as many copies as some other games. In the original DMC, the hero Dante fought demons spawned in the very pits of hell trying to unravel a mystery brought upon him by a woman named Trish. This time, Dante’s demon-slaying skills have once again been summoned to protect an island and ultimately the world from a power hungry maniac named Arius who vies to use demonic power to give him the ability to rule the world.
To make any sense of Devil May Cry 2, you must understand a bit of the back-story that forms the base work for the series. Thousands of years ago, Satan was building up an army of demons to overrun and take over the human world. A single dark knight named Sparda turned against the forces of hell, confronted the devil, and ultimately won. After the war, Sparda wed a human wife, had children, and subtly reigned as the king of men until his death. One of the children was Dante, who is half-human and half-demon. Dante always knew of his inherent abilities and made use of them by opening up a demon-slaying “service” called the Devil May Cry, housed in a small building in the middle of a big city, decorated with the skulls of Dante’s demonic foes. In DMC2, Dante has been asked to recover the four artifacts of the Arcana and eliminate Arius.
In the original Devil May Cry there was only Dante as a playable character, armed with an array of both guns and swords. Devil May Cry 2 adds new weapons to the mix as well as the mysterious and agile Lucia, a descendant of the clan that helped Sparda fight against the armies of the devil. Each character has their own disc, as well as individual combat styles, weapons, and moves. While Dante has sheer power on his side he isn’t as agile is Lucia, which makes each character unique but not so different as to have to totally relearn a playing style. Players who play as Dante a lot will have no trouble playing as Lucia and vice-versa, although there are some intricacies that are different.
Dante is armed with a little bit of everything. His bladed weapons consist of the Rebellion, the Vendetta, and the Merciless. He starts off with the Rebellion that is his cherished, albeit average long sword, then later can acquire the strong but slow Vendetta and the extremely long Merciless. Dante also has a good sample of guns, consisting of dual SMGs, a shotgun, a missile launcher, and Ebony & Ivory, Dante’s custom built twin pistols. Each weapon handles much differently than the others, the pistols don’t pack much of a punch but Dante can use them in almost any circumstance, while the missile launcher has a huge firing time leaving Dante vulnerable to other enemies.
Lucia’s array of weaponry is much more exotic. All of her melee weapons are two blades, one in each hand, and are made up of the Cutlaseer, the Klyamoor, and the Zambak. The Cutlaseer are long, curved blades good for most combat, the Klyamoor are long and straight, making them have the longest attack range, and the brutish Zambak can best be described as meat cleavers attached to Lucia’s arms, which are short range but will tear almost anything to shreds. Lucia’s ranged weaponry is also a strange but welcome assortment. The standard ranged weapon are the throwing knives, but Lucia can also use a bow gun for underwater missions, a handful of darts which she throws three at a time, and the powerful and yet nearly useless Cranky Bombs, which act like standard grenades.
Both Dante and Lucia each have their own combos that they can utilize while in combat. In the original Devil May Cry varying the timing of pressing the melee button performed combos. In Devil May Cry 2 you simply press the melee button, or hold a direction and press the melee button, making it much more intuitive and easier to pull off in the frenzy of battle. Each character has a powerful forward attack and an attack that will bring enemies airborne, after which you can either then slam them back down, or execute another string of attacks in mid-air. The melee combat is very fluid, you can go straight from the middle of a combo to knocking an enemy airborne if you wish or need to. The gun combat is equally fun, but does lack as much depth as the melee combat. One notable thing is that both characters can shoot/throw daggers at two enemies at once, which not only looks cool but is beneficial since enemies will find it much harder to attack you from behind when hot lead in flying at them.
Of course, combat isn’t entirely about someone hitting or shooting someone else, one must sometimes resort to dodging or jumping out of the way of danger to survive. Dodging is performed by pressing the Circle button and a direction, which makes your character perform flips, dives, and rolls to try and pull their bacon out of the way of injury. If you find yourself cornered you can run up a wall and flip off of it, which you can then either shoot the enemy from above or come down hard with your blade. If you are running next to a wall and press Circle you will run on the side of the wall for a bit and flip off, which can be useful to gain a better position to attack your enemy.
In the original Devil May Cry you could use your Devil Trigger to unleash Dante’s demonic half and annihilate any enemy that dared to face you. That aspect makes its return in Devil May Cry 2 along with a significant change. Each character has an amulet with various sockets in it, and acquires jewels to place in them. These jewels augment the Devil Trigger state, such as adding fire attacks, letting you fly, or increasing that rate at which you regenerate health. There are about 12 different jewels in total, which allows for a good amount of customization to make your Devil Trigger perform the way you want it to.
All the fancy moves, mid-air combat, and John Woo-esque gunplay do more than just look cool. Just like in the original Devil May Cry, if you attack an enemy or enemies with cool moves, whether it be using your guns or swords, you will get a style rating for that combo. To keep the style rating growing you must continually attack enemies, any pause in the action will end the current combo rating. If you hang on to and increase a combo rating, enemies will drop more and more orbs. Red orbs are basically DMC2s currency, which you use to upgrade your guns and blades to make them more powerful and also to buy items. Green Orbs refill your life bar, White Orbs refill your Devil Trigger bar, Blue Orbs increase your life bar’s maximum, Purple Orbs increase your Devil Trigger bar’s maximum, and Yellow Orbs serve as an extra life.
There are a couple things to note that have changed from the original Devil May Cry, which can be good or bad depending on your views. The difficulty in Devil May Cry 2 has been toned down from its predecessor, although there are still the Hard and Dante/Lucia Must Die modes for a harder challenge. Also, Dante himself seems to be toned down, with much less spoken dialogue such as the one-liners in the original. There are still a couple classics in Devil May Cry 2, just not near as many as a fan of the original may come to expect. Dante’s attitude has also changed, with Dante taking on a more reserved personality. However, if you get the opportunity to see the ending cinema of Dante’s story, you won’t be able to say anything other than “That’s my Dante!”
There are some additions to Devil May Cry 2 that are a good thing as well. Beating the game on progressively harder difficulty levels will unlock alternate costumes, a new game mode called Bloody Palace, and even a secret character to play as. The Bloody Palace mode pits you in a square arena with randomly generated themes and monsters. There are 9,999 levels in all that you can ascend to, increasing in their difficulty as you go up. Once you clear a level you can choose to go up one, five, or ten levels, taking with you any orbs you acquired. You keep playing until you die, which you can then save your game file so that all of the orbs you received can be used in the main game. This mode adds a nice touch to the game, not only can you just jump in and beat up a handful of monsters, it can actually be a good way to gain red orbs.
The graphics in Devil May Cry 2 are very good. The character models are superb, as well as the texturing and special effects. Dante’s cloak and Lucia’s cape both flutter when they move, which looks very realistic. When firing, your guns will give off a stream of shell casings that hit the ground and bounce all over. Attack an enemy with a bladed weapon and a bright slash mark pierces the enemy, while they emit a spray of blood. Muzzle flashes and explosions both give off lighting effects that illuminate both the models and the geometry around them. As a whole Devil May Cry 2’s graphics make you one with your inner demon slayer as you open up a whole can of beat-downs on the forces of hell.
Sound in the game is also pulled off very well, with each weapons sounding just like you would expect. The game’s soundtrack boasts an array of songs, ranging from slow orchestral tunes while walking around, to heavier rock songs when slicing and shooting demons. The voice-overs in the game are a bit cheesy, but no more so than in the original. The screams of the creatures all sound otherworldly and quite unfamiliar, and the grunts and yells of Dante and Lucia as they pull off their regimen of moves add a nice touch.
Overall, Devil May Cry 2 takes what the original established, tweaks it a bit, but still keeps it true to what the Devil May Cry series is all about. Almost anyone who owns a Playstation 2 should add this game to their library, especially fans of the original Devil May Cry. With solid gameplay, the ability to play as two unique characters with their own paths, cool as hell moves, and the sheer flow of it all, Capcom is starting off 2003 with a bang.
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