Devil May Cry 2—your curiosity is not worth your sanity.

I’d heard many bad things about this game. It suffered at the hands of a rocky developmental phase, mostly under a nameless director. It was poorly received upon release, criticised heavily over a vast majority of elements, one of them being its lower difficulty.

The general consensus online? It’s skippable.

This will cause anyone to develop a bias against even the notion of pressing start on this game. But running out of DMC material, I decided I’d test those claims.

I regret testing those claims.

The story is by no means engaging.

The Devil May Cry franchise doesn’t beat around the bush with the story. Story is secondary. It’s about “pure action gaming”, which is a fine concept. Sometimes players want to kick back and mindlessly press buttons on Shoot the Cool Gun 3 without having to worry about 30 minute long cutscenes that yield important story information—otherwise I’d doubt first-person shooters would sell as well as they do.

So when a game franchise designed purely for its action elements ends up with a compelling story with likeable characters, you have a golden goose. This is how Devil May Cry 5 ended up being so damn awesome—it takes the action, the story, the characters, and the action (did I say that twice?) and somehow churns out a game players are happy to replay, analyse, and learn how to improve their gameplay.

But the issues with Devil May Cry 2 start right off the bat. The opening monologue, which arguably sets the tone for the game, is bad. And I say this after having played through the openings of all five games. DMC 1 & 3 both have opening narration explaining Sparda and his whole shtick. In the first game’s case, it’s . . . bearable, for the most part (you forget about it as soon as Trish slams through the doors of Devil May Cry) but in DMC2? It’s much worse, as it tries to live up to its predecessor’s opening. It’s barely relevant to the game’s story.

To describe the opening monologue that explains Sparda and his relation to humans would be to describe an 80s movie trailer.

In a time, long since past…

Two-Face Dante Dent.

At least the game cover gives you fair warning about “dark, broody Dante”.

Dante is a character that is both complicated yet simple. On the surface, he is a cocky, wise-cracking devil hunter with an amused smile on his face while he rips through hordes of demons. He enjoys talking, theatrics, and has a tendency of being quite quippy with two guns in his hands.

What you probably didn’t know was that he also had a Harvey Dent-like coin that he flipped every once in a while just for the sake of being edgy.

In this sequel, Dante underwent a big character right hook-turn. The humorous Dante kicking back on a chair in his shop eating pizza was gone. They replaced it with this silent-cinema bloke flipping a god-damn coin. Across the 18 missions available for him, he speaks an average of 9 words each (if that). The point is: this gloomy, broody dude is neither compelling nor remotely interesting in the face of his former self.

The staff aimed to make him look older than his original self (in his 30s), implying that something dramatic had happened to change his personality.

According to Wikipedia.

Well . . . that’s great, but how the hell did I get stuck playing this kerfuffled mess of a plot and not the “something dramatic” that happened which resulted in his personality change!? His place in DMC2’s story is vague—he’s just . . . there. He was “called”. Had the game taken the time to say ‘oh this is one of his “password” jobs we established to be a thing back in the first game‘, maybe I’d be more forgiving.

Who are you? Why am I here? What’s going on? Why did everything just explode?

I mentioned earlier that the DMC franchise is more reliant on its action than it is its story. It’s blunt in how it gets players going. Games 1, 3, 4 & 5 start out plainly: this thing has happened, and now you need to kill it.

Except, DMC2 forgets to tell you what happened or why you’re there in it’s opening. Dante rocks up, shoots some demons in an opening cutscene, drops a coin, gets a “‘Til next time, son of Sparda” from this random red-headed lady.

The opening is perfectly explained by Fail Snaq in GAME SINS | Everything Wrong with Devil May Cry 2.

And then the first mission drops you on some rooftops in this random empty city. No explanation where you’re going, why you’re going there, or what’s going on. It does not explain this to you until the next mission. It’s like I’m on a fetch quest, except the thing I’m fetching is the game’s story.

To make matters worse, you don’t get a full idea of what the hell is going on until you not only finish your first playthrough, but a second playthrough as secondary protagonist Lucia. And unless you’re in it for the achievements, there is absolutely no motivation to complete the game as Lucia. Now I know where they may have gotten the back-tracking idea for DMC4.

The gameplay is . . . not awesome.

The nifty thing about Devil May Cry is that you can go to any entry in the franchise and be able to pull off exactly the same move-sets with little to no change in button input. Combos remain faithful to each game. Yes, there are slight changes, but they are negligible and players can pick up the game they’re playing with just a brief look back at the tutorials. (You can expect this of any game in a franchise.)

Developers base the franchise combos around timing. If you’re a chronic button-masher like I am, then you’ll struggle at first. It takes practice before you finally nail combos that require patience and technique.

DMC2 somehow keeps this, yet throws it out the window. Whilst also being the grandfather to a bunch of other things that have made it into the rest of the franchise. It’s a confusing experience.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that they completely changed the style system. Now make sure you’re constantly dodging to maintain your stylish ranking and the way to make different combos is to tilt the analog stick at certain points in the combo instead of timing the attack button like in all the other games.

Slickford_IV, Is DMC2 worth playing?

In the true, early DMC fashion, introduction tutorials are non-existent. These were not the days were a game would hold your hand and tell you what the jump button is. But if you’ve gone backwards through the series, this little detail will probably trip up not only your stylish ranking but also how you manipulate Dante and Rebellion. I found myself just spamming attack and ending up with Stylish ranks because I went back to the old habit of spamming while moving and hoping for the best. I don’t recommend that style for any other DMC game.

This is essentially all there is to see in DMC2.

Speaking of the stylish ranking, the game takes the time to literally tell you, Don’t Worry. Almost as if the developers knew that the game wasn’t very long. The rank should read “Don’t Worry: it’ll all be over soon“.

WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING AT?!

These are some of the worst camera angles I’ve ever seen in a video game. You effectively play half of the game blind to your opponent.

Jumping at any point became an immediately horrendous experience. Not only are you equipped with Air Hike (double jump) right off the bat, which is peculiar for those of us who started at the later entries of the franchise, but Air Hike hikes you up so god damn high, you can no longer see what enemies are underneath you, thus rendering any slam attacks worthless because they’ve all scampered away!

It’s the same when you jump and fire your weapons. This could arguably be the early version of the aerial taunts—the action of firing weapons after jumping seems to hoist you up higher into the air, but blinds you to what you’re firing at and leaving you at the mercy of DMC2’s targeting system.

Invoking a love-hate relationship with Ebony and Ivory.

If you actually play it there’s a chance that anytime someone mentions DMC2 you’ll hear the the repetitive sound of your pistols firing, since that’s basically all you’ll be hearing for hours.

redwarlord044 Reddit comment, Is DMC2 worth playing?

I wrote an entire piece on how I love the fifth game for it’s sound and music design. The weapons in that entry are heaven in my earphones.

Ebony and Ivory sound great in DMC2 . . . for the first five minutes. And then you find that you are repeatedly pressing the X button (I play 1 thru 3 on Xbox 360), and the noise . . . the noise is no longer welcome. This is the first time in the series I actively turned the volume down.

I didn’t think it was possible to ruin guns in the Devil May Cry series. Ebony and Ivory are bearable, but my tolerance wore thin, and I shuffled through weapons for anything that sounded different. What makes matters worse is, older games did not have the overwhelming game customisation—you can’t turn down the volume on Dante’s weapons alone.

DMC2 has quite the awesome soundtrack, but you will not hear it in the game because Ebony and Ivory over-power the music, especially on television speakers. You’ll be lucky if you hear a high-hat or maybe some symbols from a drum beat. It sucks to say that my favourite part of this game was sitting in the main menu Options screen, listening to a lovely piano piece.

Nine times larger than it’s predecessor, and nine times more draining.

Youtuber AGirlAndAGame suffers through DMC2's platforming.
I hate this. I hate this so much,” says AGirlAndAGame as she plays through DMC2’s platforming.

Reading GameSpot’s article from 2002 about Devil May Cry 2‘s upcoming release left me with many questions. Yes, the game is much bigger than its predecessor. It even looks to have championed the open-linear style Uncharted 4 was praised for this decade. But to state “there is no one set path to the game’s finish”? That is a huge stretch. Especially for a game that barely clocks in at 3 hours’ run-time.

Because of poor camera angles, navigation across rooftops (which you do quite a bit of) and through covered outdoor areas can prove troublesome even on the first mission. And platforming? The platforming’s bad. It’s a Devil May Cry game—platforming has never been a strong point, even in the latest entry.

The game boasts size by detailing its maps to you, by having larger and more open areas compared to its predecessor, but it does nothing with them. The anxiety instilled in you about large and open areas from literally any other game becomes obsolete as you waltz right through a space large enough for a royal ball, only to . . . keep walking. It’s a surreal experience, as your expectations are subverted and you devolve into an apathetic player slowly dying on the inside.

In normal mode, the targeting reticle is automatic. As soon as combat begins, the reticle appears and Dante auto targets. Short of painstakingly maneuvering around an area in hopes he looks somewhere else, anywhere else, there is no way to swap his targets even when holding R1/RB. I had to stop using it unless I absolutely had to. Enemies it fixes you to drop into a hole or get stuck behind pillars, ending up far away from your sword.

There’s a boss you battle in an area filled with pillars, plus low-level mooks to keep you company. I spent more time trying to target the boss than I did dealing damage against him. I’m not even certain I got to use Dante’s sword for the fight because of the poorly designed AI. In fact, you can complete most of this game without even pulling out Rebellion.

Enemy AI that gives Aliens: Colonial Marines a run for it’s money.

Devil may cry 2, The game where you dodge to get attacked.

(comment by Chris Godfrey)

I encountered a boss battle of which I completed with Dante standing still, firing his pistols. I even browsed Twitter while doing so, the Xbox 360 controller in one hand, mashing the X button, and my phone in the other.

The achievement I received for the battle was titled “No Joke”.

They added an enemy health bar, though!

The first one in the series, unrelated to bosses. They also included the ability to swap weapons on the fly, so there’s that too. You can argue that DMC2 inspired a few looks for protagonist and enemy designs in later entries

Don’t play Devil May Cry 2.

Save yourself the existential agony. I began asking who I was, why I was here, and if I was in Hell. I was shouting at Dante to get out of the corner, to target the correct enemy, and to get back on the ground. To be remotely good. I stuck out the game in hopes I’d get some rewarding cutscene or story device, that maybe I’d hear some ironic or hysterical quip from Dante mid-gameplay . . . but it does not exist.

There are games that are bad in a way that is amusing to play, like Star Trek 2013 or Alien Colonial Marines . . . but Devil May Cry 2 is a bad game in a way that’s not even funny to look at. You can’t laugh at the poor level design, bad enemy AI, overwhelming sound mix, frustratingly absent story, and downright boring combat system. Yes, you want to laugh. But you can’t. Because the game is slowly crushing your soul into tiny little pieces, and proceeds to ground those pieces into the dirt with Dante’s boot.

It’s not worth your time. It’s not even worth your curiosity. Don’t think about Devil May Cry 2. It’s not worth it.

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