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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 11/29/07 ] = On Pins And Needles

With the release of Devil May Cry 4 on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to cover Devil May Cry 3 - Special Edition. Devil May Cry. Quite possibly Capcom's most popular new series. Devil May Cry 3 got rave reviews and tons of praise from just about every magazine and website around. And while most critics still "like the first one better," or think that the game was "too hard," most of them loved Devil May Cry 3 and its upgrade, Devil May Cry 3 - Special Edition, even more. I didn't play much of DMC3 when it came out (Sol SadGuy and Meltdown Matt played a lot more than I did), but even I was able to see the differences from DMC3 to DMC3SE! With new boss battles, an added playable character, faster game speed, rebalanced AI, an alternate continue system, and a new game mode, DMC3SE is everything DMC3 is and more...

The original DMC3 had some of the best graphics ever seen on the PS2 hardware (period), and DMC3SE is no different. The game looks incredible. With each game in the series the development team learned more and more about the hardware's potential, and they've put everything they learned from each of the previous entries into DMC3, and none of it was lost in the upgrade. It is uncertain whether glitches and/or bugs were fixed for DMC3SE, but hell is just as you remember it in the original DMC3. The exceptional visuals extract every ounce of the hardware's potential. Its moody stages range from dark and gritty to bright and ethereal, with every nook and cranny intricately detailed, and no inch left untouched. Most of them depict apocalyptic scenes of hell on earth (overturned cars, twisted metal, and rubble everywhere), but there are others that show a more heavenly polarity (like the majestic, blinding Netherworld). The clock-tower stage also looks cool, and we are given breathtaking views throughout the game from the tower's various locales. Overall, the stages look great, but I still like the concrete and metal steamlined, mathematically perfect, industrial hell look of DMC2 more. Moreover, DMC3SE's structural granduer is still somewhat diluted by an emphasis on mazes and unnecessary backtracking.

DMC3's running, jumping, slashing, and shooting action echoed the typical platformer (influenced in part by Strider), but with mazes and puzzles thrown-in to mix things up (and to please critics). In DMC3SE, we still have the spazzy (or snazzy) hacking, slashing, flipping, and shooting the series is known for, but then we still got the backtracking between floors and hitting statues for items. Not all of the stages have backtracking, but some still do, and the fucked-up, rythmic statue-hitting parts weren't fixed, either. Item re-arrangement (like in Resident Evil - Director's Cut) would have also been good. The polished combo system from the original DMC3 has been left untouched, and that's OK (since the added guage helped greatly in determining combo time), but performing Dante's abilities in DMC2 seemed easier. DMC3 was a one-player game, and multi-player whenever Dante used his Doppleganger ability. A second player controlled the second Dante (or Vergil) and you'd wreck house together. This wasn't taken out of DMC3SE (and it's great that they didn't take it out), but the game should have been made entirely two-player! Now that would have been an upgrade! Not absolutely necessary, but fans sure would have appreciated it. But significant changes have been made to other parts of DMC3's devilish gameplay...

To start, DMC3SE's new Turbo gameplay is 20% faster, and the enemy AI has been re-balanced. These tweaks may not seem like a big deal, but the speed feels more natural, and the AI fits each difficulty level pretty well. Also, a new Gold Orb was added to complement the Yellow Orb, splitting the continue system into two types; Gold (choice of instant rebirth or checkpoint respawn) and Yellow (default cost-continue system from the original DMC3). This was one addition I really liked, simply because continue options are rare. Overall, where DMC3 was geared toward more experienced players, DMC3SE tries to attract a more broad, casual audience. A new "Very Hard" difficulty has been added (between "Hard" and "Dante Must Die") for advanced players, while the "Easy" and "Normal" modes have in-turn been toned-down for newcomers. There's a new mode, too; the Bloody Palace mode from DMC2 is back, and it's 999 floors of intense fighting for the last of the die-hards. On a side note, the title screen has been changed (so that you know which version of DMC3 you're playing).

However, the most noticable difference between DMC3 and DMC3SE is the inclusion of Vergil as a playable character, and he really adds a whole new dimension to what was an already deep game. For those who have thoroughly mastered DMC3 (I'm looking at you, Sol SadGuy), Vergil gives them more to master in DMC3SE. He has his own cut scenes, bonus stages, and upgradable weapons (just like his brother). Dante's completely odd, yet interesting upgradable armory of weapons (especially Agni & Rudra, Cerberus, and Artemis) distinguished DMC3 from DMC2 and DMC, and in DMC3SE it's the same for Vergil. He doesn't get as many weapons as Dante, but the ones he does have are cool, and he can upgrade them in the same manner; exclusive techniques for the Devil Arms and firepower for the Guns. For Devil Arms, Vergil uses the same weapons he uses in each of his three boss forms in Dante's game; Yamato (a long, powerful samurai sword), Beowulf (the same as Dante's), and Force Edge (samurai sword and a saber). Of course, Vergil doesn't use firearms (like his gang-banging brother), but he does have flying swords that can be upgraded to put anyone's (or anything's) eye out (demon or human).

The rest of DMC3's motley cast makes a return, from the young devil to the legions of monsters and demons after him. Dante himself looks smooth and cut, and his facial expressions are animated well, but his design was a little too "emo." Now, as the only fan of DMC2 in the world (it's my favorite in the series), I liked the more serious, less-emo, more pissed-off Dante from DMC2 better. And you can actually unlock his DMC2 costume, but until you do you're stuck with the cute, emo-hair, open-coat, bare-chested, "hotpants" version of Dante (with a bad attitude). Why did they have to put him in "hotpants?" I don't need to see his junk (and judging by the look on your face, neither do you). Not only that, but why the fuck does Dante change back into his "hotpants" for the cinematic parts between stages? Even if you have him in the other costumes, he's back in the "hotpants" again! Anyway, "hotpants" Dante aside, there are some other quirky character designs, too. The bosses and enemies in DMC3SE are pretty good overall, but there are a few weak ones here and there.

The Hell Vanguard, Agni & Rudra, Cerberus, and The Doppelganger (especially) are all pretty mean bosses, and the topless maiden Nevan is good, but Beowulf is just a big, dumb idiot in comparison, and Geryon is completely irrelevant. But the evil priest boss Arkham is still the worse, and just as lame (in all three of his forms) in DMC3SE as he was in the original DMC3. Is this the badguy people are crazy about? I hope not. He's just some bi-polar dude with a fucked-up face and a bad attitude. And he looks even more pathetic and stupid when he uses his newfound power to turn into a big, overflowing, tub of purple shit. What a complete waste of power (for him), space (on the DVD medium), and time (for the development staff). Sporadic mid-boss skirmishes with Arkham in his playful Jester form were added to DMC3SE, so you can kick his ass more than once. Just cut his fucking head off, be rid of him completely, and hope for a better badguy next-time. There are some some pretty lame regular enemies, too (like the "Damned" chess pieces, however inspired they may be), but almost all of them look cool and manacing (the Blood-Goyle, Dullahan, and The Fallen are my favorites). In their entirety (both good and bad design alike), the monsters animate nice and fluidly, though, and Capcom's extensive history in animation can be seen. Everybody praises this game for its gameplay and story, but I thought that the visuals and animation deserve more.

The game's core is its serious story, but unfortunately it's diluted by all of Dante's hokey jacking-off in the meantime. It tries to impress to the point of being cheesy. The performance Dante puts on when he gets the guitar weapon is ridiculous, and the motorcycle parts are equally embarassing. Funny thing is, Capcom didn't even need to put in all that hokey dialogue; the game is pretty impressive without all that crap. To the game's credit, though, there are a few good cinematic scenes with great localization; one of the best is when Dante catches Lady by the ankle (as she's falling headfirst to her death) and says, "now this is my kind of rain." Things take a dramatic turn when she demands that he let her go, and drills a bullet right into his forehead (for talking too much). This part of the game had me in awe. That part was OK, but I like the serious Dante of DMC2 more than the overly-playful Dante in DMC3SE; humor is alright, but it gets ridiculous in this game. Someone I know brought up a good point about how Dante does all this cool shit in the cinematics that show how he's an invincible son-of-a-God, but then he dies all quick when you play the game. I wondered this myself many times before; why is it that he gets shot in the fucking forehead and lives, but I get hit by a few dirty-ass weak monsters and he's topples over and dies?! OK, he take a bullet to the head, but a scrap with hell's lowliest minions tuckers him out? Not to be nit-picky, but goddamn, that's weak. Is this why the Devil May Cry? Lady, on the other hand, has some cool (albeit drawn-out) acrobatic gunfights (it's just too bad she looks so rough). Dramatic camera angles also make the extreme cutscenes look even better; the most epic is the colossal emergence of the tower, filmed by a helicopter camera as debris and earth make cloudy streams from the sky, as the sunset beams from the horizon. Arguably the best scene in the game.

This is the complete package for DMC3, not just for fans, but more for players of all skill levels. DMC3SE is easier to find than the original DMC3, and with good reason; it's better in every aspect. Good for new guys because Capcom made additions to make the game easier to get into, and good for experienced players because Capcom put in plenty of new material to play the game all over again. The latter will enjoy the new features more, but the former will be able to get better at the game and gradually come to appreciate all the extra stuff that was added to the game. There were a ton of secrets in DMC3, and there are even more to go for in DMC3SE. And to top it all off, the visuals are incredible, and easily on par with games like Metal Gear Solid 3 and (the highly-underrated) Soul Calibur III. For a sword-swinging, wall-flipping Strider clone, DMC3SE is a good game. But as the "completely original," gun-slinging, "stylish action" title everyone says it is, the game is a little less. Even with its hang-ups, it's still a lot better than the first game, though, and it's fun, too! For Strider fans, it doesn't look like Capcom will be blessing us anytime soon, but DMC3SE does a pretty good job of filling in that void.