E3 2001

Devil May Cry Game Impressions

So, Friday morning, I'm playing through a few minutes of Breath Of Fire on the GameBoy Advance, which bears an astoundingly uncanny likeness to its native NES platform, which had my eyebrow raised in pleasant respect, and the resident Capcom rep ushered Stom, Aegis, and myself over to the Raised Platform of Death and Destruction for the viewing of their forthcoming action/adventure/RPGEnoughForRPGamerCoverage manifesto; Devil May Cry.

Okay, so it was only a raised metal platform with four gigantic, back to back view screens, but once the Capcom Media/Interviewee/I'veGotTheControllerSoYouJustGetToStandThereAndDrool rep started up the performance, I lost touch with the outside world.

Being the demo version, very little of the game was actually playable, and even though the rep had a palm pilot to translate the Japanese text for us, it was hard to tell where in the game we actually were or what to make of the story. I recall something about the main character not wanting to repeat his fathers mistakes and... well, ok that's about all I can remember and even that much may be completely wrong. I lost touch with reality for those ten minutes, mind you. Let's move on to the visuals.

Picture that scene in Bram Stoker's Dracula when Jonathan Harker first met Vlad, spectrally making his way down the staircase with candelabra in hand. Now remove Keanu Reeves' inability to act like an English banker, and insert a very Vincent (circa Final Fantasy 7) looking man with white hair and an electrified (no, it wasn't actually electrified, it was undulating with dark power. you try explaining that one) sword. Now you don't have to do too much to Vlad in this example. Simply take away the cape, darken the complexion to something out of Silent Hill or Parasite Eve, give him another foot or two of height, and replace the candelabra with blood-drenched talons. Oh, and less royal speech and more guttural throat noises.

Now, animate!

First we see our hero (for sake of argument and confusion, lets just call him Vincent) Vincent leap into the air, even higher than Alucard in Symphony of the Night, and do an overhead, two armed, downward blade stroke with above mentioned electrified sword on his decent. At this point, I'm fairly certain that my eyes glazed over considerably. As the blow connected and was completed, the monster still stood, much to Vincent's dismay. Or not. The resident Capcom Rep casually released a volley of one-two, left-right sword swipes, executed an extremely well designed upward thrust, which launched the now bleeding, yet still groaning, lump of flesh high into the air, withdrew twin .45's from his pelvic region, and unloaded at least twenty-five shells into the beast with semi-automatic speed. The slugs did quite an applaud able job in defying physics and suspending the writhing-in-agony-monster in the air as Vincent mechanically pumped round after round into the beast until the slavering mass of blood and flesh released its hold on this mortal coil and fell to the floor in a crumpled heap, very, very dead.

And at this juncture, an E3 maintenance team had accumulated around the puddle leaking from my pant leg, as I stood mystified at the fluidity of the massacre I had just witnessed. Never before have I seen such a fast, free-based, full-motion, orgasm-inducing combat sequence before. Every single pixel moved with a cat like grace. I couldn't even dream of counting the moving parts displayed in those four to five short seconds between the two fighters alone (not even beginning on the fully 3D background) that forever changed my opinion of game developer perseverance to create the ultimate real time battle system. Capcom has basically taken the crack that is any reverent (Metroid, Castlevania, etc) side scrolling game's fighting tactics and made them fully 3D with absolutely zero flaws. MGS didn't impress me this much. I bow down before this game for its battle system alone. And we haven't even gotten to the rest of the game play yet.

What say we do so, eh?

You know how you can sit down and wander around through any Resident Evil game, worried that a ghoul might pop out from around any corner and devour you whole? Well, ok, Devil May Cry may not be as suspenseful, but the AI does an excellent job of hiding some monsters behind dark corners and reaming you from behind, beside, and even above, at a moments notice. And what happens when a monster confronts you? More battle!

The 3D environment is something like a mesh between Ultimecia's Castle from Final Fantasy 8 and the intro sequence from Parasite Eve 2 (closest analogy I could think of, sorry) in the sense that damn nearly everything you see is either viewable, moveable, or just straight up pulverize able, and the textures are comparable, if not superior, to anything Square has ever rendered as a background. And it all moves! As you run around a corner, objects pivot, light sourcing diminishes or intensifies, monsters get uglier, and of course, battles draw nearer!

The multi-tier environment also adds to the interactive game play quite a bit. Want to surprise the bajesus out of that monster a floor down from you? Simply leap over the banister and dispatch him in much the l33tesque way Sephiroth did away with Aeris. That table look like it might have a sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun under it? Simply smash it to pieces and see for yourself! You can pretty much use everything you see to your advantage in this game. I see the possibilities being something near limitless and my knees buckle at just the thoughts alone.

Lets take a look at the weapons for a moment. The only weapons available to us for tinkering were the sword, the twin .45's, and the shotgun. As explained by the Capcom rep, as you gain experience with the use of each weapon, they level up and become stronger ie; rock more ass. After defeating each monster, a silhouetted purple patch of calligraphy "EXP: ####" pops up to let you know of your rewards. Again, I was entirely too stupefied to listen to the full explanation of the experience system, but fear not, it's there.

I really don't know how to further explain the few minutes I experienced to those of you who haven't had the extreme pleasure of viewing this game yet. It just simply rules. As of right now, it has become my sole reason to purchase a Playstation 2 if nothing else.

Of course I was FAR to stupid to take pictures of the game itself, so I do heartily apologize for not having any eye candy for your preview. I know. I'm a bad, bad man.

by Matt Scipione    

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