Dante is back, or should I say, "Dante is here!"? Because Devil May Cry 3 - like the recently released Metal Gear Solid 3 - is a prequel to the first two games in the series.
The Devil May Cry series started a couple of years ago on the PS2 with the first wowing gamers everywhere with its action-packed gameplay and ingenious plot. A year later, Capcom developed a follow up that fell short of what gamers expected. Although DMC3 features upgrades in every area imaginable, it does not stop the gameplay from getting repetitive, it's a step in the right direction.
The story is definitely DMC3's strong point as Capcom has gone with a 'cinematic' approach to the game, placing more emphases on movies than creating diverse gameplay. The story begins when a mysterious stranger walks into Dante's new shop and gives Dante an invitation from his brother, Vergil, to meet him at the tower of Temen-ni-gru. He is then attacked by a horde of demons, and after taking the demons out, Dante heads outside and discovers another horde of demons waiting for him. Although the story itself is quite entertaining, it is marred by the repetitive gameplay.
Difficulty may have been toned down for the PAL release, however, it's still a tough game and some players may be tempted to throw the controller at the TV in frustration. The camera doesn't help much either, given that Dante frequently drops out of sight because the camera swings around a lot in battle. Once you have finished a level on any difficulty you can go back and play it again later to collect more Orbs.
Orbs are obtained by jumping through or running over them, most orbs are scattered around the level in breakable objects or come from monsters you have killed. They are vital for upgrading Dante's skills with his melee weapons and guns in the customize menu, which is available before you start a level. After each level you are scored based on how long you took to finish the level, how many orbs collected, your style, the amount of damage you did to the environment, and items used.
Visually, DMC3 is a treat to watch: all of the attacks Dante uses look stylish, no matter what you are using, whether it's the guns or melee weapons. If you shoot monsters on the ground while in mid-air, Dante will slow down ala Matrix's bullet time effect. When melee weapons are used, they all have stream effects - something all too common in Japanese games. The monsters look very similar to the 'death' mould of a black robe with a skeleton inside.
The bosses look amazing in comparison to the endless number of similar looking demons you face, and have great looking attacks; the second boss, Cerberus, for example, can use ice attacks, which freeze Dante for a period of time. While the third boss, Gigapede, fires energy balls at you. Each boss monster has its own 'weak points', where you can shoot or slash at to kill it.
Because Capcom have gone for good storytelling over gameplay variety, DMC3 has great looking FMVs and clever lines from Dante including "This party's getting crazy!" and "Easy fido. How about I take you out for a walk?" - when he meets Cerberus. Excellent voice acting and great visuals really bring the characters to life. Battles are accompanied by a heavy metal soundtrack, which suits the action well.
DMC3 has the option for players to pick a gameplay style that suits them. There are four styles to choose from, including Trickster, which allows the player to avoid enemy attacks using evasive movements. Swordsman, which allows mastery of different melee weapons while maximizing each weapon's power. Gunslinger, which is similar to swordsman, but using guns instead. Last is Royal Guard, which minimizes the damage of enemy attacks and allows players to manoeuvre into a more, strategic position. Unfortunately, even with all the different combat styles you can use in DMC3, it is still a very repetitive affair. It revolves around a simple pattern: kill a handful of monsters, collect a few orbs, kill a few more monsters, kill a boss monster, watch an FMV, repeat.
Devil May Cry 3 is a mediocre - if difficult - action game, saved by great visuals, voice acting and a good story. Unfortunately, the gameplay - diverse range of 'boss monsters' aside - is just too repetitive to keep you interested.