Devil May Cry HD Collection Review

By Kevin Tavore, 9 months ago
Devil May Cry has long been a staple in the action genre. With the first three titles launching exclusively on the most popular platform at the time, PlayStation 2, the franchise came to dominate the genre for an entire generation. The internet is littered with fluff pieces about the quality of the series and history has been very kind to the Devil May Cry legacy. That puts the Devil May Cry HD Collection in a unique position to be well-received by both dedicated fans and newcomers. Or, at least, it did a few years ago when it came to last generation consoles. Nowadays, this latest port is still a blessing upon anyone who hasn’t played the games, but surprisingly it’s dedicated fans that have the fewest reasons to look forward to this collection.

Devil May Cry HD Collection

The game’s name says it all: it’s a collection of Devil May Cry games in HD. Specifically, buyers will get the first three entries in the series that released on PS2. With this generation already littered with remasters, you never really know what you’ll get with a collection of legacy titles. It could be a full remaster complete with graphical overhaul, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. It could be a bounty of classic titles brought up to modern standards like Rare Replay. Or it could be a slightly disappointing, no-frills port. This collection neatly fits into that third option.

If you played the first Devil May Cry HD Collection on Xbox 360, then you’ll know what you’re getting. In fact, you’re quite literally getting the exact same thing. I can’t promise there’s not some minor change somewhere, but for all intents and purposes this collection is indistinguishable from the last generation version. For those who didn’t play it a couple years ago, that means you’re getting each of these games lovingly changed to an HD aspect ratio and that’s about it. You won’t find touched up visuals beyond the resolution change, newly rendered cutscenes or gameplay fixes here. This collection is close to identical to the PS2 version, just ever so slightly prettier. You can see the comparison screenshots between this collection and the originals throughout the review.


The original Devil May Cry has a fascinating history. The team initially set out to create Resident Evil 4 and it shows in the atmosphere and gameplay. The game is set primarily in an eerie castle that you’ll need to explore. The camera is fixed, giving you only a partial view at any given time which feels horrifically claustrophobic. But at the same time, it’s clearly something else entirely. The story is chock-full of nineties edginess. Dante is almost insufferably edgy. In fact, there’s no better word to describe him. But he will become endearing as you play and he serves as a stark contrast to the abandoned castle vibe and the demonic invasion storyline. No one plays Devil May Cry for its story and characters, but Dante and his adventure are memorable nevertheless.

People play Devil May Cry for the combat. It’s 2018 and we’ve come a long way to get to where we are today with games like Bayonetta, which coincidentally shares the same game director in Hideki Kamiya. Looking forward, it’s easy to see how Devil May Cry combat eventually became the modern action staple in Bayonetta, but by any modern standards Devil May Cry is utterly archaic. There are no free-flowing combo mechanics here. Instead it plays more tactically, requiring you to lock on to perform many actions and to keep Dante focused on a specific target. There is depth in the form of a few different types of weapons and you can buy more combos to expand your arsenal. But none of that compares to any modern action game.

What makes Devil May Cry’s combat so special is that it’s unique. Once you beat down your expectations about how an action game should play, Devil May Cry’s design shines through. Each attack has a purpose. Enemies have strengths and weaknesses you’ll need to learn to abuse. The style system encourages you to essentially rack up a high hit count without taking damage, further adding complexity and fun to the combat. It’s not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination — it’s got a bit too much backtracking, its bosses are entirely uninspired though they are still fun and the camera can be very hard to work with. Still, as a revolutionary piece of history and with a willingness to move past its flaws in light of modern design sensibilities, Devil May Cry remains an excellent game.


Devil May Cry 2 also started its life as a different game entirely until the DMC franchise took off and it was retooled, but that’s where the similarities with the first game end. Whatever it was meant to be, it wasn’t very good and it still isn’t. You play as either Dante or newcomer Lucia across similar but somewhat different story missions. The game is outrageously easy. You can button spam against just about everything, guns are extremely strong and the enemy design is very poor. There’s even an infamous boss, the infested tank, that is incapable of moving or defending itself up close. You literally run up to it and spam attacks for about 30 seconds until it dies. That should tell you all you need to know about the game. It’s still not a bad game, just forgettably mediocre.

Devil May Cry 3 marked a return to form. It launched in 2005 as the PS2’s response to Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox and it remains in all respects an excellent action game even today. It works due to a redesigned style system. While the first game only required consecutive hits, the third requires you to use entirely different combos mixed together to keep your style up as high as possible. This adds an incredible amount of depth to the game as you’ll constantly be switching up your attacks to create flashy and fun visuals. The weapons do have a limited number of combos each, but you can switch between any two on the fly which doubles your move set and keeps things fresh. The stylish combat is complemented by excellent enemy and boss design that will challenge you to try new strategies and work towards perfection. To this day, Devil May Cry 3 remains one of the best action titles available anywhere and it’s no different in this collection.


The achievements will send you to every corner of each of the games. You’ll complete the games on each difficulty, jump into the optional content in the form of secret missions and the bloody tower. There are also collectible achievements, level grinding and weapon improvement achievements to ensure you’ll spend a good amount of time here. A veteran player knows what to expect already, but newcomers will probably find this game takes north of 50 hours to complete despite the games being rather short overall. Luckily, it is not necessary to S rank the entire game on any difficulty — only one mission for some of the games.

Summary

Nostalgia can be a deceptive monster and many beloved classics are probably better left in memory, but this collection sets out to prove that the Devil May Cry series is as excellent today as it ever was and it's a veritable success. As an HD port, the Devil May Cry HD Collection is nothing to write home about. It increases the resolution of the games and fixes the aspect ratio for modern displays, but otherwise it does nothing interesting that would make playing it better than any of the classic versions. Instead, its quality rests on the shoulders of the games which make it up. Devil May Cry 2 remains an uninspired title, but Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3 are masterpieces to this day. While people who've played these games a thousand times may find nothing new, everyone will find titles worth their time. These games are classics, and for the most part they still hold up today.
4 / 5
Devil May Cry HD Collection
Positives
  • Devil May Cry
  • Devil May Cry 3
Negatives
  • Devil May Cry 2
  • Straight port of the 360 version which itself added almost nothing new to the games
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 12 hours fighting demons in all three games, ultimately completing DMC1 and playing through a fair chunk of each sequel once again. He collected 32 of 99 achievements for 320 Gamerscore. A review code was provided by the publisher and the game was played on an Xbox One X.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Kevin is a lover of all types of media, especially any type of long form story. The American equivalent of Aristotle, he'll write about anything and everything and you'll usually see him as the purveyor of news, reviews and the occasional op-ed. He's happy with any game that's not point and click or puzzling, but would always rather be outdoors in nature.