Let's get one thing absolutely straight. Devil May Cry was one of the best action games ever made on the PS2. Its mentalist hackandslash action gothic rock style was the perfect answer to doubts over the PS2's graphical abilities, and it was as intense and as stylish a game as there has ever been from Capcom ever since.
The sequel, however, was arse. It dumbed down the formula in near-disastrous fashion, making it practically impossible not to waltz through the entire game bashing the same button until your eyes dried up and fell out in protest, and replaced the gothic grandeur with relatively uninspired backdrops in generic environments populated by questionable enemies. A tank? A helicopter? What the fug? The third in the series had better be a dramatic return to form - but we have faith, and we're sure the project's producer, the well-intentioned former journo Tanaka-san has taken on board some of the stinging criticism for the latest in the series.
Post mag early + scanner + internet = broken embargo
Predictably, Capcom's policy of entrusting the world's first info with a print magazine has backfired, with the world and his nine wives already in possession of all the news fit to scan, thanks to the US edition of PSM being sent out to subscribers well ahead of its alleged May 11th street date along with the naughty antics of several renegade webslingers, including Jeux Video and Gamefront who have posted up all the scans. Capcom has asked us nicely to refrain from joining in the scan-o-mania, and we'll be bringing you some high res official images in just a few days' time.
But in the meantime, let's give you our spin on the info leaked so far. The first thing to note is that Capcom is going down the old prequel route already with DMC 3, and apparently the setting itself will have little in common with what we've become accustomed to in the other two titles released so far. Dante, of course, will resume his lead role in a younger form, presumably with a pre-straightening iron hairstyle. Bizarrely, PSM report that he's "full of piss and vinegar". And no, we have absolutely no idea what that's supposed to mean.
The visual style will be far more in keeping with the wonderfully atmospheric original, although we're hoping for a more dynamic camera system that doesn't constantly flick viewpoints and send you scuttling back where you came from because the perspective has completely screwed with your sense of direction.
Apparently the infamous style system inherent in the series has been tweaked to allow the gamer to select whichever preferred style they wish to at the start of the game, giving them the option of Gunslinger, Swordmaster, Trickster, and Royal Guard. Each is alleged to have various pros and cons and can be tweaked as you progress, thanks to the now-traditional experience points system which allows you to build up Dante in the direction you see fit. Hand to hand combat has a greater emphasis this time, interestingly.
The game length is purported to be similar to the first DMC, with a return to a greater emphasis on puzzles, as opposed to the brain death hackandslash slog of number two, while Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes cut scene director Ryuhei Kitamura has been tasked with providing over an hour of in-game storyline.
In a visual sense, although the overall style will reportedly resemble the first DMC, advancements to the game engine have allowed Capcom to pull off better animations and better animation transitions, a much greater degree of destructibility (especially with the twelve foot electro-sword), more realistic lighting (including climate effects), and some innovative new foes, including some kind of sand monster, with overall AI patterns that require a lot more than mindless button mashing. Not too hard, though eh? As easy as DMC 2 was, the first one was rock hard at times, and not always in a good way.
Questions answers, answers questions
Much is still under wraps about the project, with many of the special moves and weapons remaining a closely guarded secret until the games autumn 2004 release in the US (likely to be late 2004 for PAL). Will there be a female character? Can Dante still turn into a demon? Is it actually the return to form we all demand? More when we see the game for ourselves at E3 next week...