Retrostation: Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening – our favourite demon hunter Dante resolves family issues

Sibling squabbles can be thoroughly problematic at the best of times. Arguments over who gets Tuesday night TV rights can quickly descend into all manner of unfortunate anarchy. So when Devil May Cry 3′s two half-demon brothers start scrapping over the fate of humanity, you know things are headed south. Fortunately for the PS2 crowd of 2005, this pair of bad-tempered brutes also brought with them one of the most refined hack’n’shoot combat systems ever.

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Retrostation: Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

Hurtling along at bullet train pace, this outrageously melodramatic slash-a-thon may well be sillier than the outtakes of a Naked Gun film, but beneath the facade of over-the-top nonsense lies a razor sharp core of perfectly-constructed combat.

The opening hour of the game perfectly encapsulates what Dante and co have planned. Starting out in a tightly enclosed shop, Dante and his 2001 haircut fight out one of the most unnecessarily elaborate battles ever witnessed. Slashing and shooting hoards of demonic nasties, everybody’s favourite demon-hunter surfs across the shop atop an unlucky crony, while mixing things up on the nearby jukebox and juggling slices of pizza alongside the iconic red coat. It sets the tone for a game that never lets up with either its unique Japanese style, or its utterly intoxicating speed of play.

Of *course* DMC 3 lets you ride enemies like fleshy toboggans without breaking a combo.

The breakneck pace at which the story whizzes by only adds to the frenetic energy that this third iteration gives off in its every waking second. Like being bellowed at by a brick-built personal trainer, DMC3 loves nothing more than to pump you up, face you with near-insurmountable challenges and watch as you crash them into completion by all manner of stupendously cool means.

Devil May Cry 3 oozes fun in its every action, constructing a whole that’s truly unforgettable, thanks to a combination of overtly-stylised gameplay and similarly showy cutscenes. And once you’ve entered the city’s imperious castle after an hour of play, you’ll be utterly engrossed with new weapons such as nunchucks, gauntlets and a guitar-scythe (yes, really), all with their own upgrades to purchase and master, using the rather gothic currency of demon blood.

Balance is imperative to any successful
hack ‘n’ slasher and it’s something
that Devil May Cry 3 nails

Each of these weapons possesses its own totally unique style, allowing you to deal death in a variety of ways. Cracking out the super-fast Cerberus nunchucks keeps those low-level demons from ever getting anywhere near your vital organs, but up against the more sluggish heavy-hitters, you might find yourself smashed into the ground like a blonde-red pâté. Balance is imperative to any successful hack ‘n’ slasher and it’s something that Devil May Cry 3 nails. The Dante show’s increasingly high difficulty is justly grounded within an absolute system that never sees the blonde-bombshell minced out of anything other than player fault – it’s firm but brutally fair.

Subsequent additions to the genre have offered up an added level of cinematic clout, yet none quite hold the balance and purity of Devil May Cry 3’s thumb-numbingly addictive combat system. It’s a lightning-fast rollercoaster ride that, in amongst its brotherly battles, mesmerises and reassures that combat is king.