Devil May Cry for the PlayStation 2 was a treat, at the time one of the flagship titles for the console. A sequel was rushed out and unfortunately, like so many rushed sequels, Devil May Cry 2 is best forgotten about... Rather quickly. Capcom seemingly learnt its lesson from DMC2, and when Devil May Cry 3 was released early last year it represented a massive redemption for the series. Despite being a difficult game, the combat was thoroughly enjoyable, and this made passing the missions that much more satisfying. Now, eighteen months after Devil May Cry 3's release, Capcom has seen fit to release Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, which contains some new additions.
The twin brother of Dante, Vergil, is one such addition, though he has no real storyline attributed to him. Cut-scenes have been removed, which means you'll sometimes be fighting without really understanding exactly why, which is extremely frustrating. And speaking of Vergil, you can now actually play as him from the very beginning of the game, and he comes with his own completely different set of moves. Vergil is extremely powerful, but the trade-off of this is that Vergil only has one combat style, compared to Dante's six. Another drawback (depending on how you look at it) of playing as Vergil is that the difficulty level has been lowered, because Vergil is so much more powerful you're able to plough through enemies a lot quicker. Vergil doesn't have his own separate story either, which is a bit of a shame, and makes his addition seem a little tacked-on.
The game also lets you choose which save system to adopt. In the original game, you had to purchase yellow orbs to continue from a checkpoint, which meant you often had to start from way back in a level. This time around, you can actually bring yourself back to life when you die, as long as you have a gold orb in your inventory. This means you'll find it easier to beat levels, because you've got more opportunities. The save system is optional though, so if you want a challenge you can select to play with the original save system. All of these small additions to the game make Devil May Cry 3 an easier title overall.
There are a few other extra goodies which are sure to take your fancy. You can replay all of your own cut-scenes through the Demo Digest option. There's also a Survival mode (titled "Bloody Palace") which basically dumps you into a dungeon fighting off as many enemies as possible. The turbo mode which made it into the NTSC version doesn't appear to have made it into the PAL version
In Devil May Cry 3, you were able to play things a little differently than in the original titles. You can now play the levels you've completed again when you want, which is handy for building up orbs and experience points. In each level, you'll be finding yourself needing to search for a key that fits in a lock before fighting a boss, and while the level objectives are simple, the level design makes up for this. Each and every enemy gives out clues to signal when its going to attack and what type of attack is coming. There are both visual and audio cues as to when an enemy will attack. For example, if you're in the middle of a combo, you may hear that familiar laughing sound that means an enemy is just about to attack you. By simply pressing the dodge button straight away, your character will dodge and you'll avoid getting hurt. This takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's possible to pull off some incredible combats without taking damage.
As well as dodging, you can counter-attack with your sword to stop your opponent if your timing is good enough. Boss fights are just the same. A boss will never just randomly attack, but give clues when it's going to attack and how it will attack; it's up to you to work out what each clue means and then what to do when it happens. Bosses have been an important part of the Devil May Cry series so far and this game remains true to that. There's nearly a dozen main bosses throughout the game, all impressive in their own way. Unfortunately, the bosses are always massive, which means you won't have smaller bosses to fight and practice your melee combat on. However, they are a pretty fantastic bunch, and some of them are still extremely challenging, even with Vergil's power. We encountered some issues where the camera would get in the way at times, which was a little bit annoying but manageable.
Graphically, the game still stands up really well for being 18 months old. The cut-scenes are still extremely impressive, and even though many verge on the impossible, it doesn't make it any less entertaining seeing Dante running vertically down the side of a skyscraper, or kicking up the back of a pool table, hitting the white ball with the edge of his sword, and in turn hitting all of the other balls at a hundred miles per hour into the faces of the oncoming horde of enemies. The level design also compliments the game well, and some of the design is very impressive. Even though there's often plenty going on in the game, we never encountered any frame rate issues either, which is very impressive. Sound-wise, the game is still very impressive. The sound effects are superbly done, with each of the melee and ranged weapons having a distinctly powerful sound to them. The heavy metal inspired music fits the game perfectly, although it does become a little repetitive after you've played through the adventure for a while.
In terms of lifespan, the game features a large amount of missions. If you're playing through as Vergil you'll complete the game quicker, mainly because he is more powerful but also because of the more forgiving save system. The game features twenty missions, and there are plenty of different styles and weapons to master. There are plenty of unlockables too, but we won't ruin them. Add to all this the extra special edition modes, and you've got a package with a veritable wealth of content.
Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition takes everything that made Devil May Cry 3 so appealing and then throws in an extra character, extra modes and a more forgiving save system. Anyone who was turned off by the difficulty of the third game has no excuse to not come back to one of the best action games on the PlayStation 2. Vergil's addition means you'll be playing through the main adventure in a different way, but the lack of an extra story is a little disappointing. Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is even available at a budget price, so there is no excuse at all not to pick it up.