Rumors are abound that Dante is due for a sequel in the much anticipated Devil May Cry 5 speculated to be announced later this year, so Capcom doesn’t want us to forget the roots of the franchise. With Devil May Cry HD Collection the publisher hopes to reintroduce the current generation to the PS2 trilogy that helped forge a new breed of action games.
Originally intended to be a sequel in Capcom’s Resident Evil series, the first Devil May Cry became such a radical departure from the series’ style that it was developed into a new property entirely. With its mixture of gothic ambiance and stylish combo-heavy gameplay mechanics Devil May Cry became a phenomenon that redefined the 3D Hack and Slash genre and created the Character-Action sub-genre.
Unlike classic brawler genres like action platformers and shack & slash games, Devil May Cry focused more on incentivizing players to chain different combos. The popularity of this combo-based character-action genre birthed such iconic game series like God of War, Bayonetta and the modern Ninja Gaiden games.
Given the fact that most Remasters, much less simple HD Collections are hit or miss due to the questionable effort put by some publishers/developers into their HD treatments, it is not unreasonable to be skeptical of the quality of the ports of the classic games and the collection containing enough to warrant its asking price of $30.
Let’s start from the most obvious question; how is this collection any different than the Devil May Cry HD Collection that released last generation on PS3 and Xbox 360? The simple answer is; not by much.
This modern Devil May Cry HD Collection does not contain Devil May Cry 4 nor the DmC reboot, and features the same three games included in the last-gen collection. It is merely a current-gen port of a 6-year-old compilation, that features a resolution bump from 720p to 1080p but is host to the same issues from the last HD collection that still remain unresolved.
The game menus still retain the 4:3 aspect ratio and have not even updated from the past HD collection. While some in game cutscenes are 16:9 with 1080p, some of them are not. Many CG cutscenes are displayed in 4:3 with original resolution, creating a jarring effect transitioning from 16:9 1080p gameplay and appearing fairly blurry on modern HD/4K screens.
With plethora of presentation issues like absent blur trails, bad audio looping and music pitch to inconsistent aspect ratio and resolution, as well as lack of 4K support for PC, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, the package does not contain any significant improvement and fails to provide much incentive to buy this collection if you already own the Devil May Cry HD Collection on PS3 or Xbox 360.
However, for those that are new to the franchise, it is important to know that the Devil May Cry series is like an over-the-top 80s action movie. It contains lots of violence, bombastic action and limitless cheesy one-liners from its charismatic and flamboyant protagonist.
The games chronicle the many adventures of Dante, a mercenary for hire who has supernatural powers due to his half human / half demon lineage. Whereas the series makes a lot of allusions to Dante Alighieri’s Devine Comedy, the story in these games lack much substance and mainly comprise of over-the-top action scenes and elaborate set-pieces that serve as a vehicle to move the character from one stage to another.
On the gameplay front, the Devil May Cry HD Collection is full of the award-winning gameplay and style that the series has become known for, now playable on modern consoles. While these games contain some puzzle solving and exploration elements they are mainly known for their elaborate fast paced action sequences that set them apart from their contemporaries.
Each game follows a level-based structure that traps the player character with a group of enemies that the player has to defeat in order to progress to the next stage. Players are encouraged to play around with the combination of weapons as well as gun and melee attacks to chain various combos, that end up rewarding the player on not just the length of the combo, but also how stylish it was. The style rank is tracked during combat with letter grades, from worst to best: D, C, B, A, S, SS and SSS.
As previously mentioned, the Devil May Cry HD Collection features the first three games in the series, a trilogy of games that made their original run on the PlayStation 2.
Debuting in 2001, the first Devil May Cry introduced the charismatic half-demon Dante, who uses his innate abilities and the powers of ancient demons to fight a one-man war against the forces of darkness and save humanity from damnation under the control of a powerful demon; Mundus.
The original game largely takes place in a gothic castle on an island, and even though it follows a mission structure, it features heavy backtracking with changes to conditions like tougher enemies and time limit challenges. Overall the game features well-crafted challenges and a well-paced campaign, lasting 7-9 hours.
Considered by many as the black sheep of the original series, Devil May Cry 2 was sequel that was first released in 2003 and centers on Dante and his new devilishly agile partner Lucia in their fight to defeat a man hell-bent on achieving supreme power.
Devil May Cry 2 improved animation quality from its previous entry and introduced the ability to perform combination attacks in mid-air and an evasion button. It also introduced a weapon-change button, so the player could cycle through ranged weapons without switching to the inventory screen.
However, compared to the original, the game features uninspired enemies and dull environments. The gameplay challenge is also significantly reduced from the last entry and the campaign is incredibly short, so to artificially increase its length, the game allows players to replay as Lucia, but lack of variety between the two campaigns is noticeable and leads to feeling of backtracking through the same situations a second time.
Released in 2005, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening was a prequel to the original game that saw a course correction of the series, bringing it back to the style of the original game and then making it better in every way possible. The game added more variety, more stages, creative atmospheres and a stylish flair to its campaign that lasts 12-15 hours from start to finish.
The game also added a selection of new gameplay styles, allowing the player to focus on their favorite techniques or weapons, whether it be swords, guns, evasion or defense. Each of the four basic styles gain experience points, which unlock more techniques and abilities without costing “red orbs”, the common currency of the series. A second weapon-change button was also added to the mix, allowing the player to cycle through the character’s melee weaponry on the fly.
The Devil May Cry HD Collection is home to the special edition of Devil May Cry 3, that features a number of enhancements, including the opportunity to play as Dante’s twin brother, Vergil, as well as the addition of Bloody Palace Mode and Turbo Mode.
The Devil May Cry games feature deep and intricate controls and are designed to punish button mashers and those that spam the same combos again and again. They feature plethora of moves to master and wide array of abilities needed to overcome any situation. It is diverse enough to avoid becoming repetitious and allows for creativity and gameplay that stands the test of time.
Unfortunately, same cannot be said for the games’ presentation. While the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second during gameplay, it does show its age in stiff animations and sprinkling of old ugly textures. The games’ fixed camera angles can also pose a problem as they may seem obtrusive and annoying for modern standards and be hard to stomach for new players.
Moreover, the PC version of the original game has had its own share of issues, that range from increasing game speed on higher refresh-rate monitors to new visual and sound bugs that were not present on the previous HD collection.
The Devil May Cry HD Collection is not a top-shelf effort and is clearly just a vehicle for Capcom to re-release the previous games to align with their promotion plan. This is just a straight port without any addition of custom controls, extra costumes, or redone textures. If you have a functioning last gen console then it is simply better to purchase the previous HD Collection for half the price of this new one.
In case that is not possible, do not worry, this new Devil May Cry HD Collection for PS4, Xbox One and PC does offer a decent opportunity to play three great games and either have a fun walk down the memory lane or get acquainted with the classic series for the very first time . However, it is just unfortunate that Capcom was unable or unwilling to put the level of effort, polish and care to this compilation that these games deserve.