Devil May Cry has long been heralded as one of the finest action series of all time. From slick visuals, satisfying combat, and just plain cool design choices, players have reveled in playing as Dante and co. in some hectic demon slaying action. 2018 has brought the Devil May Cry HD Collection to modern consoles, containing the original Devil May Cry (2001), the often maligned Devil May Cry 2 (2003), and the fantastic Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (2005). It’s the action, style, and frenzy you know and love if you’ve played before.
The collection is a port of the PS3 port of the PS2 classics (say that 5 times fast), and has been given a resolution bump to 1080p (from 720p on the PS3). Other than the small bump in graphical quality, everything from the PS3 version of the collection has been brought over verbatim, leaving many of the issues intact.
I’ll get my biggest gripe out of the way first: the camera. If you have fond memories of the series, particularly Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2, you may have forgotten about the camera. Capcom has had an opportunity to fix the camera across two HD ports and has neglected to do so, and by leaving it as-is the game suffers tremendously from it. There are confusing angles, no player control, and some frustrating back-and-forth across screens due to control hiccups; all things that could have been fixed. I hate to say it, but the frustrations of the camera in both DmC 1 and 2 are so severe it nearly caused me to throw my controller at the TV. For a game so strong in combat and action, the camera cripples the enjoyment by frequently taking you out of that action.
Thankfully, Devil May Cry 3 introduces some, albeit limited, player control over the camera, and the game is better for it. Combat is more fluid and precise, and without the sharp changes in viewing angle you can pull off some incredible combos. Exploring the environments is easier as well, thanks to having a well-behaved camera allowing you to keep track of passageways, doors, and tunnels, making it easier to find secrets and hidden items you may have missed.
Gameplay wise, the games remain untouched. If you loved racking up combos by alternating devastating sword strikes with a relentless hail of bullets, then you are going to slip back into the fold with ease. As someone who has previously dabbled with every entry of the collection both on PS2 and PS3, I knew what I was in for. What shook me, however, was just how disparate the controls are from modern games in the same vein. Many, if not all, modern action games have streamlined their controls down to a fine art, with barely any difference between different titles. The Devil May Cry HD Collection has failed to adapt to the times, and in turn adds another frustrating disappointment to this remastered port. I frequently fired my gun instead of swinging my sword, locked onto an enemy while trying to dodge, or opened a door when I meant to do a wall jump over it to a secret area.
“…some remaster work on the soundtrack and voice acting would have gone a long way…”
Where the game truly shows its age is in the voice acting and plot delivery. Devil May Cry is an arcadey experience at heart, and the voices, script, and narrative are shallow. Despite this, the environmental story telling and setting shines even with the graphical flaws (this is an early 2000’s series after all), and it is easy to see past these issues when the action is so good. In saying this, some remaster work on the soundtrack, especially in Devil May Cry, and voice acting would have gone a long way to make these elements more palatable in 2018.
To wrap up, the positives: the game runs at a smooth 60fps with no hiccups experienced across all three titles. The colours pop, the dank castles and ruins feel old, and the enemy and monster designs are as interesting and diverse as you remember. Fighting bosses requires creativity and tactics, a trend that you can trace from Devil May Cry through to modern day titles like Dark Souls and The Witcher, and it’s great to jump back to where it all began. Collecting red, green, yellow, and blue stones is satisfying, and solving the environmental puzzles still feels rewarding more than 10 years later.
Finally, the HD Collection features a in-game “vault” filled with extra content, including a compendium full of concept art, soundtracks for each game, and fan art from the Devil May Cry fanbase, all of which has been curated by Capcom US. It provides a great piece of fan service, and is definitely worth a look by fans and newcomers alike.
The Bottom Line
I can’t help but wish Capcom had taken their recent successes with Monster Hunter: World and Resident Evil 7 and applied it to this collection; I feel it would have gone a long way with fans to see them give the same love and care to their legacy franchises. Having played the series both on PS2 and PS3, it didn’t take me long to see that there was, really, only a small degree of difference between this and last-gen’s port. If you love Devil May Cry, chances are you’ll enjoy this collection, but if you are like me and have grown used to the creature comforts of modern gaming… perhaps leave this one on the shelf.