This uninspired and disappointing sequel mingles fast-paced thrills with recycled content that does nothing to reinvent the original formula.
Devil May Cry is still considered one of the first games that captured a relentless style of gameplay reminiscent of old 2D games. With that premise Devil May Cry 2 is released two years later, and in case you are wondering if the game lives up to the expectations well, it doesn’t. It’s unfortunate that Capcom created a sequel that ultimately doesn’t refine the gameplay at all and the little things it accomplishes are done by playing it safe.
The story of Devil May Cry 2 is simple enough. Set in the fictional city of Vie de Marli, the story centers on demon slayer Dante and mysterious Lucia in their fight to stop an international businessman called Arius, from achieving ultimate power and conquering the world. Capcom did try to improve certain aspects of the game though, for example the environments, which are larger than those from the original. But as they are bigger they lack detail, are unattractive and most look exactly the same. This cookie cutter approach is detrimental and gives the feeling that the same places could have been part of any other game.
Dante has new movements this time around and most of them don’t serve any clear purpose and are only used for eye candy. A new character called Lucia is introduced and has her own story. There are two discs: Dante’s and Lucia’s and each one represents about five hours of story, this looks like a way for developers to increase replayability. Regardless, you’ll have to play the same levels again in the second disc as almost everything in those is identical, even the boss fights. Lucia’s adventure is even shorter than Dante’s and even though there are some bonus items that can be unlocked by playing the adventures once again, so it’s simply not worth it.
If you played the first Devil May Cry you remember Dante as a really charismatic, talkative and stylish character. Well, if you do you are likely to be hugely disappointed as in the sequel he barely even speaks, and for some reason a different actor does his voice. Both characters are extremely underdeveloped and chances are you won’t even care about their motivations as they are never even explained. The stories do have some common elements and the characters’ paths eventually converge. Mechanically, Dante and Lucia control the same way and have the same moves and transformation.
You’ll soon find out that is better (and much faster) to escape from certain fights and just focus on the boss fights, which require less strategy than on the first Devil May Cry. The larger environments allow you (and often encourage you) to run and leave places unexplored, you may not find any red orbs but there are plenty of them around anyway. These fights are really easy and most of the times you’ll rely on your guns or throwing knives (depending on which character you are playing with). Even if you enjoy learning every single complex combination to do more damage and get a higher stylish rank, using the new moves is worthless and unnecessary. Eventually, you’ll get tired of trying to use these combos as using the simplest combinations are rewarding and much more effective. Later on in the game you’ll come across new weapons like a shotgun or a rocket launcher and some of them, like the rocket launcher are really fun to use, but the rest are unnecessary. A weapon-change button, which allows swapping quickly to the equipped range weapon without switching to the inventory, was added.
Collecting orbs is an important part of the game’s progress and adds addictive RPG elements to a fast-paced action adventure game. These orbs are used to improve your weapons or to buy new items. Amulets are new and are a great idea but poorly executed. This special item grant you with a unique ability to your character, allowing you to fly, move faster and so on. At any point the game explains what the amulet does and why is so important so you may even finish the game without knowing they are there.
The camera has been redone completely to emphasize action scenes, now is not close to your characters but really far back. While some problems were solved, there are still some issues with it and you’ll fight enemies that can’t be seen, the view can be problematic specially when jumping or entering a new place as it quickly tries to adjust. One important problem that was addressed is the difficulty as it’s much more forgiving in this sequel and there is only a Normal mode when you first start the game. Veterans of the series will probably complain and disagree with the choice of lowering the difficulty, but once you finish the game harder difficulties are unlocked.
Graphically, the urban environments in Devil May Cry 2 are not creative and feel empty even when there are enemies in it. The architecture of some buildings is overshadowed by the lack of details and the presence of simple designs and their repetitiveness. The story is told through cutscenes that use the game’s engine and various great looking pre-rendered full motion videos. The characters models though are impressive and a lot of effort was put when creating them as they move as expected and are very well animated. Regarding the enemies, they are very similar to the ones in Devil May Cry, there is not a huge variety of them but many of them can be onscreen. The sound in Devil May Cry 2 is very the much the same as the original. The guitar tracks are still there and are mixed some orchestral gothic music which is amazing. The rest of the sounds are basic but they get the job done and are effective, as the two main characters have some yells they use during the fights.
Devil May Cry 2 is simply a big disappointment. The controls are still great, but the new combinations can be tedious to perform over and over and are not rewarding. The graphics look good but some visual aspects were unattended and the music is accurate enough creating an appropriate ambience to fight. Even after years of its release, playing this game can be quite fun, but considering what the original game meant to the franchise and the industry in general this sequel doesn’t make any sense. Devil May Cry 2 feels unpolished and probably as a stand-alone game it would have made more sense, but unfortunately it had to live up to its predecessor.