sunnuntai 12. tammikuuta 2014

REVIEW - Devil May Cry 2 | PS2 | 2003

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: January 25, 2003

So Devil May Cry 2 is announced by Capcom during the English localization of the original game, much to creator Hideki Kamiya's surprise. He waits for the call, it never comes. Be it that he's busy making Viewtiful Joe, or that they got a "different game" planned for a "great story", nothing's for certain except that it isn't a very nice move by Capcom. Most famous for fighting games that were semi-popular in Japan, but virtually unknown in other parts of the world - such as Power Stone and Capcom vs. SNK - long-time Capcom designer Hideaki Itsuno was hired to do his very own interpretation of Devil May Cry. Only one question remains: what the hell was wrong with him?! You might've heard that it's not quite as good as its predecessor, but the truth is Devil May Cry 2 may very well be the shittiest sequel to a great game the world has ever seen.

I won't cry over it, but damn.

Matthew Kaminsky : Dante
Francoise Galewski : Lucia
Sherman Howard : Arius
Flo Di Re : Matier

Lucia, a young woman with powers similar to Dante's, has a run-in with the son of Sparda, who she invites to her home on Dumary Island. Lucia's mother tells Dante that she once fought alongside his father to keep the island safe from harm, but now Sparda is gone and a local businessman is using demonic powers to summon the demon Argosax; if he succeeds, she's pretty sure that her daughter and Dante are the only ones capable enough of taking on this ancient demon.

For a while, I truly believed I didn't give this game enough of a chance back in the day, and that it was all right after all. Well, it turns out that Devil May Cry 2 is The Heretic of video games, as in Exorcist II: The Heretic. If you haven't seen that movie, consider yourself lucky. The Exorcist is still one of the best horror movies ever made, say what you will about the effects, and I don't care if you find it funny rather than scary. Let's just go with how great it was in my opinion, and how scarily realistic and revolutionary it really was in its time - five years later, The Heretic is made. It's got a different director (John Boorman) who has a totally different vision than the guy who made the original (William Friedkin); he wants to add in some voodoo priests, insects that spread Satan (yeah, that's right: spread Satan), some totally irrelevant LSD-fueled sequences to confuse the already confused viewer just a little bit more, and finally, my favourite: a device used in hypnotism, which allows the protagonist's subconscious memories to actually pass on to and be reviewed by another person. In 1978, no less, the Animus from Assassin's Creed was a perfectly standard psychiatric tool. Expensive, I'm sure, but no one really stopped to think about such things too much in the movie. Neither did the writers when they wrote that shit.

Our designated protagonist... and some guy
that has Dante's looks and the social skills of
Claude from GTA III.
Believe it or not, all of this does have a point. Devil May Cry 2 is virtually the exact same thing as The Heretic. The first game was considered a revolutionary masterpiece, made by a true visionary. It had one of the coolest protagonists ever; he wasn't to everyone's liking, but everyone saw that this guy was probably going to be pushed as the generation's greatest hero. He had so much potential. He had a cool look, cooler moves, kick-ass weaponry that you could upgrade at will, and a tough line for every situation (if you could hear it... just saying). The game itself took Resident Evil to a whole new direction, which immediately cast such a dark shadow on the original franchise that it absolutely had to be changed sooner or later. It was all about fast, tight, tense and extremely challenging hack and slash action in kind of familiar, but way more supernatural surroundings that became more and more unique as the game progressed, all set in a medieval castle, the perfect spot for this kinda story. In comes a new director (Hideaki Itsuno) with a totally different vision than the guy who made the original (Hideki Kamiya). Suddenly there's a newyorkish metropolitan area with army vehicles possessed by demons (ehh...) and a large apartment building that is actually a demon (somebody call Ghostbusters, I'm outta here), cutting off a city that's mostly of medieval architecture and rural atmosphere, no less, a more "open world" which is actually just confusing, boring copy-pasted texture over copy-pasted texture, severely decreased level of difficulty, a shitty plot, limited and mostly automatic upgrade system, and the best part of all: Dante is a lifeless, completely emotionless puppet who hardly speaks. I could just end this here, 'cause I just listed pretty much everything that justifies a bomb rating, but I won't let this game go that easy. Disappointment is one thing, but an utter failure is another. I might just and just be able to condone Devil May Cry 2 if it was a handheld game - but it's not, it's a major sequel to a revolutionary game.

After all this, it might sound a bit ironic that the controls are basically really good. For example, shooting and especially dodging are much easier standard feats than they were in the first game. However - here we go - since you can't buy new combos, only gain new abilities and even most of those are exclusive to your Devil Trigger form, and enemies spawn absolutely all the time, you'll get tired using the same damn simple combos that are even harder to keep on piling up than in the previous game. You need to hit an enemy about a dozen times before even a D-combo is registered. By that time, you've probably been flanked by some other bastard or your target is long dead, and the time it takes to get to another target in these vast, empty and once again just as badly angled surroundings, is too long to maintain the combo. So, while Dante is really comfortable to control, he's boring as hell when it comes to combat. Same goes for Lucia, who is officially regarded the game's secondary playable character, but in truth, she's much more lively and protagonistic than Dante. I get this inevitable feeling, especially considering the time of this game's original announcement, and how Capcom treated Kamiya. I get the feeling that someone at Capcom pitched an idea of a totally unrelated game around the same time they started making Devil May Cry, and this same someone figured that hey, since that game did so good, how about we just swipe the franchise and make this draft a part of it? Even if it doesn't fit, we'll force it. It's gonna sell, it's gonna be great, everyone's happy. Well, it sold all right, extremely well at that. Everything else went to shit.

This game is far from "Show Time".
Back to Lucia. She basically has every skill Dante has, except for a special, additional Devil Trigger mode which is exclusive to Dante and activates when he's at critical health. There's nothing more to be said about her, except that the Dante and Lucia scenarios are just like any pairing of scenarios in Resident Evil. She has her very own disc, which is totally unnecessary, 'cause her scenario is virtually identical to Dante's. The story is not nearly strong enough to ease your suffering through two "different" scenarios. Not to mention the gameplay, or the hellishly boring level design. Let's reflect on that, shall we? In the first game, we had but one castle, its vast courtyard and underground tunnels to explore. Here we have a huge city (a fictional one, of course promoted as the biggest city of the world as them fictional cities always are), which sounds awesome on paper, but in actuality, 90% of it is empty, quiet space. Don't bother running down that long tunnel, it seems there's something but I tell you, there's nothing there. The first game was about a hundred times more interesting when it comes to level design. Even the "secret missions" are not anything of the kind they were in Devil May Cry, they're just your basic deathmatches against a couple of random waves of enemies just like the whole game. I'm going to add something to my statement here - Devil May Cry 2 is not just one of the worst sequels ever made, it's probably one of the most ironic bunches of video game concepts I've ever seen.

About the items... there are small versions of the Vital and Devil Stars in addition to the large ones, and the small ones are usually perfectly enough to get you out of a pinch. There's also a Holy Star, an antidote for poison, which you don't need since a standard poison effect is very brief. Untouchable has been replaced with The Smell of Fear (who farted in the bottle?) that gives you three damage-free hits instead of rendering you completely invincible for a while. Guess they heard how players went about Mundus in the last game... dum-dee-dum... last, and least, the orbs. They all do the exact same thing as before. The thing is, you get more of 'em, you do less with 'em. More irony. Well, to be honest, every upgrade - you never get told what those upgrades to your weapons actually entail - is extremely expensive, and you should keep grinding orbs for those just to make the game faster. It doesn't need to be any easier. The yellow orbs work a bit different than before, and here the game hits another snag. Actually, I think that even the checkpoint system brought on by the yellow orbs in the first game was better. How bad can this be then, exactly...?

No, we don't get to drive that thing.
Well, you can only carry one yellow orb at a time. And that's that - if you find more in the field, they just go to waste, and the game doesn't even have the courtesy to tell you that. You have just ONE extra chance. Big deal, since the game ain't difficult, you say? Well, that's true. There's a simple strategy for each and every enemy, including the bosses: BASH 'EM. But the game CAN be a real fuck sometimes. Mission 5, burning vertical hallway. I miss a jump because the camera's all fucked up. I drop down into the flames, which do not kill me instantly, but I simply cannot see where I can jump up because of the flames and the camera. I'm watching my life drain away, then I can vaguely see Dante using a yellow orb and getting up instantly... just to throw away my second chance. Back to the only checkpoint of this fucking boring drivel of a level (could be any level), many useful power-ups poorer. Might as well reset the game at that point. It's once again a very painful choice, but sometimes it makes more sense. If anything in this dickwad of a game makes any sense.

So, if you beat the Hard Mode with Dante - which makes our real main character, the one whose presence actually counts for something when it comes to the (bad) cinematics, that much more useless since everyone wants to play as (a guy that looks like) Dante - you get to play the game as Trish from the first game. Yay. I can't really measure my excitement. Perhaps if I take a dump... seriously, make a good game if you want to add an extra, almost identical play mode on top of two already almost identical scenarios.

Devil May Cry 2 is one miserable excuse for a sequel. It holds surprisingly decent averages on aggregate sites (73% on GameRankings, 68% on Metacritic), which I really do not comprehend, it's so much worse than I could've ever imagined. Don't know what game this was supposed to be before the success of Devil May Cry, but without the brand name on its back, it would be long forgotten on the piss-spilled pages of history. Play it once for your principles, it's not the unplayable sort of bad, but it is most definitely not just a disappointment, but a failure and a Devil-sized error in judgement.

+ The ability to equip different accessories was a genuinely good idea
+ Short enough
+ Better controls...

- ...Boring combos that are frustratingly hard to manage, ever-spawning enemies, do the math
- The camera. Seriously. Even worse than before.
- Confusing, extremely boring and empty levels
- I'm willing to bet that this game was a hair away from having nothing to do with the Devil May Cry franchise, it's so off the mark
- A pathetic shadow of a man for a male protagonist, and the other one's just useless
- Weak and horribly designed bosses; it seems the game lacks more and more in imagination towards the end
- Effortless to beat compared to the first game, but I guess the boring gameplay is challenge enough

< 5.2 >

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