Devil May Cry HD Collection PS3 review
In terms of timing, it makes perfect sense. With the reboot not far away, remind people why they love the DMC series by polishing the first three games up and releasing them in this season’s must-have accessory: the HD collection. Mr Marketing Man, have a lollipop. Or a new Audi. Trouble is, this trio is more likely to convince people that their memories are about as reliable as a National Rail timetable than have them dropping everything to get their DmC pre-order in.
The original Devil May Cry scored brilliantly upon release and won numerous awards, so it’s remarkable to see just how much 11 years have dulled it. What was super-smooth and very much in vogue back in the day is now juddery and outdated like watching Have I Got News For You on VHS.
A limited move set forces combos to be stop-start, and there’s little more variation than hammering circle to sword-slash and square to fire your guns. Or a little bit of both, if you’re feeling fruity. Additionally, navigating environments is frustrating and camera angles seem willfully obtuse. While it shouldn’t be forgotten how ground-breaking the game was in 2001 – and the huge influence it had on subsequent actioners – playing it now is little more than an exercise in destroying cherished recollections.
The sequel fares even worse, though – largely just because it was a poorer game upon release. Replacing the vast Gothic setting of the original with barely disguised corridors and forcing you to play through near-identical journeys with a pair of protagonists (it shipped on two character-specific discs, much like Resi 2) was baffling at the time. Now those levels feel even more restrictive and the combat so aged that it’s even more of a let-down.
Thankfully, Dante’s Awakening doesn’t collapse under the pressures of modernity, and the third title very nearly saves the whole package. The 2005 game is still slick: with a combat system that enables you to change between four weapons on the fly, it encourages variety and allows you to build impressive combos.
Unsurprisingly, the visuals stand up better than the others, too. It’s also the only game in the trilogy that has a remotely gripping storyline, as Dante scales an enormous tower in order to face off against his brother, and the stern difficulty level is a pleasingly old-school challenge that’ll get its hooks into any stubborn players.
The real problem, however, is that these are not the kind of games that should be remade in hi-def. With titles such as Shadow Of The Colossus or Metal Gear Solid 3, it figures: these are unique experiences that no game since has been able to recreate, outdo or even capture the spirit of. Devil May Cry was lauded at the time, but the games simply aren’t classics in that same bracket.
What the series introduced to the genre was the kind of slick, multi-weapon melee combat that the likes of God Of War and Bayonetta have so brilliantly built on. While DMC may have been the giant upon whose shoulders those games initially stood, their brilliance has crushed that giant into the ground. Gamers owe this series a debt of gratitude, but – sadly – not a slice of their precious gaming time.