While Capcom's Devil May Cry series has gone a through a number changes over the years, the focus has always been on offering fast-paced combat with a side of self-aware humor and style. With the re-release of the Devil May Cry HD Collection out now, featuring the original Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition--and the much-maligned Devil May Cry 2--the HD collection should be a solid entry point for anyone looking to check out the series' PlayStation 2 roots. While the original games still hold up, the recent HD port unfortunately retains many of the same issues that plagued the previous release.
As a port of the 2012 HD Collection, the "new" collection for PS4, PC, and Xbox One is largely left intact. In addition to each game receiving a 1080p resolution bump (an increase from the original's 720p resolution), which includes some slightly sharper textures and characters models, the HD Collection also features a suite of side-content aimed at fans--including an in-game compendium full of concept art, soundtracks for each game, and fan art from the DMC fanbase curated by Capcom US.
While there have been some slight changes introduced for this release, including the addition of a handy return to main menu option for when you want to switch over to another game, it's largely the same package on new hardware. While it's great you can play these games on new platforms, many of the older issues from the port linger. After playing with the PS4, and then revisiting the PS3 version, we pulled together a quick rundown of each game, and how their particular HD upgrade has fared.
Devil May Cry (2001)
Released in 2001, this fast-paced and challenging romp through the dark corridors of a demonic mansion would set the tone for what the series was all about. Balancing macabre humor with the cheap-thrills of a 90s-style action game, the original DMC features a strong focus on creating a slightly dreadful atmosphere, while simultaneously injecting pulse-pounding action throughout. Moreover, DMC1 features an adjusted control-scheme to make it more in-line with how DMC2 and 3 play--particularly swapping the jump and attack buttons. While the combat and in-game graphics have held up well--maintaining a solid 60 frames-per-second throughout--Devil May Cry 1 tends to benefit the least with the upgraded resolution and visuals when compared to the other games.
These issues include strange audio quirks and bad ambient sound looping, slightly warped visual visual effects for attacks and special moves, and some occasional instances where some aspects of the environment and characters to disappear entirely for brief moments. This was a rare occurrence, when exploring some of the more active environments, and other during a combat encounter--which was rather annoying. What's disappointing about the re-release is that these original issues haven't been addressed, and many of these problems occur often in DMC1. In addition to the hiccups with the in-game action, many of the stylistic choices from the original game designed around the traditional 4:3 format--including the animated menus text--look incredibly blown out and otherwise weathered.
Despite this, Devil May Cry is still a lot of fun to play. While it's disappointing to see that the upres hasn't been kind to some of the game's already dated qualities, resulting in some muddy looking visuals, the original Devil May Cry is still a strong game with an incredible atmosphere.
Devil May Cry 2 (2003)
Coming shortly after the release of the original game, Devil May Cry 2 ultimately ended up being a poor follow-up to the original, and still stands as the weakest game of the series. With some rather clunky and sluggish combat, mostly barren environments that lacked a sense of atmosphere, and along with an uncharacteristically somber tone--DMC2 lacks the same sort of edge that the series was founded on. On top of the game's already drab and unoriginal style, visual and design aspects of the sequel have aged rather poorly--making it the most aesthetically unappealing games in the package.
Having said that, the resolution bump does give much of the textures for the characters a sharper look, giving the game's quasi cell-shaded style a much more pronounced look--making for some interesting-looking characters during cutscenes. Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 2's issues are far more than skin deep, which no HD port could fix. With that said, the sequel does feature Dante's best outfit of the series, the black and red leather--which also made an appearance in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. So there's that.
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (2006)
As the crown jewel of the DMC HD Collection, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is the most content rich game in the package--and is arguably the best game in the DMC series. As the prequel, the game is more of a return to form, focusing on fast and challenging combat, and ditching the weirdly earnest story of DMC2 for a narrative that revelled in over-the-top action-movie machismo. The HD port keeps much of its luster. But like the other games, there are still some blemishes to be aware of.
One area the Special Edition falters in is with its presentation. The game features many cutscenes and story beats throughout, using both pre-rendered and in-game rendered cutscenes. While the resolution bump shows off cleaner and more visually pleasing upgrades to the graphics, which shine during combat and in-game cinematics, pre-rendered cinematics are cropped from the original 4:3 scenes, making for some rather unsightly and stretched out looking visuals during some key scenes. This is made worse when watching multiple cutscenes back to back, jumping between cropped and in-game rendered cutscenes. Despite these issues, DMC3 still manages to impress throughout thanks to its irreverent tone and excellent gameplay. Gameplay performs at a rock-solid 60 frames-per-second, and the upgraded resolution makes combat much more clear to follow, making DMC3--and all its combat rich mechanics--a total blast to play.
While the DMC HD Collection features a number of unsightly inconsistencies issues with its re-release, ultimately showing how much the series has aged since its debut, the trilogy of games still retains the feel and fast-paced action of the series. I still have fond memories of experiencing the games on the PS2, and playing through this trilogy again brought back all those feelings of excitement and frustration during the challenging combat encounters. The HD Collection is a solid way to experience the original games for those that haven't already. And for those returning to the action, you'll find that Devil May Cry's patented action hasn't quite lost its edge yet.