Review: Devil May Cry HD Collection

The Devil May Cry HD Collection originally came out in 2012, shortly before the Ninja Theory reboot DmC: Devil May Cry. It was considered to be a lazy set of ports of two good games and one terrible one – Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening Special Edition and Devil May Cry 2, respectively. This HD Collection has been almost untouched and has once again been lazily ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The bottom line is, any gamer that bought the original Devil May Cry HD Collection has absolutely no reason to pick this version up – even the most hardcore Devil May Cry fan would be disappointed with this half-baked double dip.

The primary changes that this version of the Devil May Cry HD Collection bring to the table are a resolution boost from 720p to 1080p compared to the original HD Collection, a stable frame rate of 60fps, and a few new goodies in the main menu like concept art and the like. Besides that, these games are exactly the same as they were six years ago, and six years ago, these games were barely different from their original PlayStation 2 versions in the first place.

Like the original Devil May Cry HD Collection, menus and most CG cut scenes are still presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio and are exceptionally fuzzy and cheap-looking across all three games. Even in-engine cut scenes look like a minimal amount of effort was put into making them look remotely better than their PlayStation 2 counterparts. The original HD Collection had a minor amount of quality of life improvements, like slightly altering the first game’s controller layout to more directly mimic that of Devil May Cry 3, making all three games feel just a bit more cohesive in the process. That’s still here, but literally no other similar gameplay improvements have been made. And boy, could each game use some improvements.

Devil May Cry (2001)

Devil May Cry built its reputation on difficult gameplay, stylish combos and a fair measure of cocky edge thanks to protagonist Dante. This half-human half-demon P.I./bounty hunter/pizza connoisseur is a wisecracking warrior capable of dual wielding pistols just as well as he swings enchanted swords. He’s nimble and able to wall jump and leap across chasms to his heart’s content, but it’s his ability to generate combos that made the first Devil May Cry special. Between swords, pistols, shotguns and more, Dante can expand his arsenal exponentially by the time this roughly eight-hour campaign is done.

Traces of Resident Evil are all over Devil May Cry, which began its development as an early version of Resident Evil 4. Light puzzle solving is spread across interconnected portions of an ancient castle, rusted keys can be found in one room to open another that’s far away and even the way text pops up when examining objects in the world is an absolute throwback to the classic survival horror franchise. However, everything else about the game was wholly unique when it came out nearly two decades ago. The story of Devil May Cry is demon-fueled nonsense and bless it for it. The game focuses on difficult, skill-based, hack-and-slash gameplay that hadn’t been seen in another 3D action game up to that point. It influenced the likes of God of War and Bayonetta, and is undeniably the progenitor of similar games that followed.

Unfortunately, not everything about Devil May Cry holds up. Its camera, which is almost exclusively static like early Resident Evil Games, constantly chops up the gameplay, causing player input to clash with Dante’s orientation countless times during combat and exploration segments. And while the original HD port cleaned up some textures and presented the game at a higher resolution, neither it nor this newer HD collection have done much of anything beyond that to make the game more visually appealing. Devil May Cry may no longer be the masterpiece it was once viewed as, but it’s still a highly enjoyable experience – even if it’s hardly enhanced for the current generation of consoles.

Devil May Cry 2 (2003)

While Devil May Cry still holds up relatively well in its own right, the same absolutely can’t be said for Devil May Cry 2, which was critically derided upon release. It gets almost everything wrong – instead of deepening the combo-based combat or focusing on a complex and interwoven adventure, it trades its tight corridors for open city streets devoid of personality, and sacrifices interesting, unique enemy designs for some of the most run-of-the-mill encounters possible. Stringing together combos feels stilted and anemic, and the difficulty has been dropped to comically easy levels, making the entire game feel like a prolonged chore rather than anything akin to its predecessor.

Devil May Cry 2’s biggest fault, however, is its total lack of identity. After the original’s unique take on combat set the world on fire, this game just feels like any game developer going through the numbers. Dante no longer cracks irreverent jokes, opting to be entirely self-serious and largely unlikable. The textures throughout the game are muddy and unsightly, and they negatively impact the gameplay by not only disorienting the player, but by making it difficult to see paths forward in the first place. Nothing in the game makes a case for individuality, and because of this, it’s a game that’s best left alone unless you really feel the need to play through the entire franchise.

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (2006)

Fortunately, Devil May Cry 3 managed to return the series back to its roots, and in many ways, it surpasses the original. It acts as a prequel to the first game, focusing on Dante and his twin brother Virgil’s antagonistic relationship. Gameplay “styles” are added to the game, with each style adding different abilities to a single button when equipped. For instance, there’s the trickster style, which allows Dante to dodge attacks more easily. Or there’s the quicksilver style, which lets Dante slow down time and wreak havoc on enemies. Styles can be leveled up over the course of the game, and the game’s wide assortment of weapons can be upgraded as well. By the end of the game, Dante has more weapons and abilities than he knows what to do with.

The series’ humor and charm return in full force in this third installment, and while it’s the same kind of dumb, screwball material from the original, it absolutely makes Devil May Cry 3 feel like a true follow up to the first game. Though at times it feels as if it loses its own identity a bit with looping corridors and sometimes confusing level design, it’s generally a blast to play through. It’s difficult, but it offers an easy option to players who die three times in a row. The combat options can feel overwhelming, but combos and stylish maneuvers can be pulled of naturally once you get a hang of the game’s rhythm. Like the first game, the camera doesn’t always cooperate, but at least the player has a bit more control of it this time around. Though the first Devil May Cry has been the most critically lauded, it’s Devil May Cry 3 that holds up the best to this day.

Closing Comments:

In the end, the Devil May Cry HD Collection is a lazy port of a set of lazy ports from six years ago, but it is technically the best way to play two fantastic games – and also Devil May Cry 2. There is absolutely no reason for any fan who already picked up the original HD Collection to give this one a go, but if you’re an old fan who doesn’t have access to the PlayStation 2 originals or a gamer that’s always been interested in the franchise, you can’t go wrong picking this collection up for $29.99 USD. This set of games is the definition of doing the bare minimum in order to make some quick cash and Capcom should know better than to milk their fan base like this. When they themselves released the fantastic Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition two years go, they made a full effort to not only bring the game to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but significantly improve upon the original as well. The Devil May Cry HD Collection is far from that mindset. As it stands, this is a poor set of remasters of solid games – just don’t go in expecting a single bell or whistle to enhance the experience.

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Devil May Cry HD Collection