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July 2020

Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 20, 2020


Switch Review - 'Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 21, 2020 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition unfolds an earlier chapter in Dante's history, before the original Devil May Cry, to the fateful clash between Sparda's twin sons, divided by the divergence of their chosen paths.

The original Devil May Cry 3 is arguably one of the most influential games in the franchise. While the original DMC effectively started the "character action" genre, DMC3 gave it a real kick in the pants. Combining buttery-smooth action with ridiculous, over-the-top stunts, it was the closest one could get to playing an action movie. We're happy to report that the Nintendo Switch port of DMC3 goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Chronologically, DMC3 is actually the first game in the series. It tells of the early days of demon hunter Dante as he battles his brother Vergil, who's attempting to undo the seal created by their demonic hero father, Sparda, to achieve ultimate power at the cost of unleashing great evil on the world. It's up to Dante and his new pal Lady to take down Vergil and his demonic allies before the world is doomed.

For those playing the series for the first time on the Switch, DMC3 is where the franchise fully transitioned from RE-inspired action game to full-on crazy. Dante retains all his moves and abilities from the first game (though Alastor and Ifrit are replaced by other similar weapons) in addition to a boatload of new abilities. Most notable are the Style skills, which allow Dante to focus on one of four attributes: Gunslinger, Royal Guard, Swordmaster and Trickster. Respectively, the attributes roughly translate to more ranged moves, ability to guard, more melee moves, and more mobility. Each one adds flexibility to Dante's arsenal, which contains more weapons than he's had in any other game in the franchise. He even unlocks more styles as the game progresses. Since this port is based on Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, it also unlocks Vergil as a bonus character with his own move sets and campaign. (The campaign is mostly a repeat of Dante's story, though.)

Be warned that DMC3 is the toughest game in the series on its lower difficulty levels. Some of the early bosses were significant brick walls for people, even after the special edition adjusted the balance. Once you get your arsenal up (and certainly once you get Devil Trigger), it becomes a lot more manageable, but don't be surprised if you die a couple of times on the way to the first boss. It's worth pushing through, especially because you get your first awesome melee weapon from that.

Unlike other Devil May Cry ports, DMC3 for the Switch includes a fairly substantial set of new features. The most significant new feature is Freestyle mode, where the gameplay changes to resemble DMC4/5 Dante. You have instant access to swapping your styles with the touch of a button, and rather than being limited in weapons, you can hold your entire loadout at once.

In an improvement over DMC5, you have a radial menu to swap weapons instantly instead of cycling through. This might sound like a small thing, but it is huge for how DMC3 plays. Instant swapping between styles gives you so much more flexibility and makes previously limited styles like Gunslinger a lot more valuable. It makes using Dante's skills so much more enjoyable to the point that I'd have trouble playing any version of DMC3 without such an option again.

The same goes for the instant weapon switch. DMC3 kind of encouraged you to choose a pair of weapons and not deviate much, despite enemies having elemental weaknesses and the weapons having different qualities. Now they are all at your fingertips. Something like Nevan, which is specialized, can now be used in areas where it excels without limiting your arsenal. You can swap between the different guns based on enemy range. You can use everything you want. It feels awesome and fixes one of DMC3's biggest problems.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this is a game-changer for DMC3. While the original version is still available, it has almost no benefits over the amazing feeling of the Freestyle changes. Hopefully, these changes will be backported to older versions of the game or will be the new standard going forward because they make the Switch iteration by far the best way to experience DMC3 to date.

The other big change is more limited but still pretty cool. You're allowed to take on the super-long bonus arena fight, The Bloody Palace, in two-player co-op, with one player using Dante and the other Vergil. This is basically an expanded version of the trick where you can control Doppleganger (or Vergil in one mission) with a second controller in the regular version of the game, but it's been expanded. The camera doesn't always play nice, and it's local co-op only, but it's extra fun to take on the palace with a friend.

Beyond those changes, Devil May Cry 3 is pretty much like the other ports. The in-game graphics look pretty solid, but anything using pre-rendered cut scenes is rather grainy and low-res. Fortunately, DMC3 has far more of the former than the latter. Even in portable mode, it runs smoothly and has basically instant loading times. All in all, it's an incredibly excellent port, going with the overall high-quality of the rest of the re-release.

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition for the Switch is the definitive version of arguably the best Devil May Cry game. Freestyle mode is a revelation that makes a great game even better, and the rest of the port is similarly top-notch. If you're a fan of the game or the franchise, then DMC3 for the Switch is absolutely worth the money. The party is really getting started now.

Score: 9.0/10

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