If you're familiar with the Devil May Cry series, you'll know that this sequel is often derided so let's see if it deserves a second chance.
When I was a teenager, Devil May Cry captured the imagination of me and my friends as it presented a fantastical heavy metal world full of demons and magical moments complete with a degree of challenge that blew our minds. So, when Devil May Cry 2 debuted in 2003, we couldn't wait to get our hands on it but little did we know; it was a huge departure from the incredible first game. I recall first booting it up then thinking, "What the heck am I doing hopping around rooftops and who is this Lucia woman?" After an hour of button mashing while cutting through enemies with ease and very little skill, I was craving going back to the first game which featured much more brutal gameplay, a haunting setting, and most importantly; it was actually fun. Now that I've played Devil May Cry 2 again on Switch, I must admit that I don't hate it as much as I remember I did back in the day. In fact, it definitely has its upsides.
For starters, controlling either Dante or Lucia is a joy because the controls are intuitive, responsive, and supremely satisfying. Seeing as many games even in 2019 make their basic controls clunky and confusing, this is something that really stands out even when you compare it to its genre contemporaries. Plus, one underrated aspect about Devil May Cry 2 is its character customization options. Primarily, configuring your Devil Trigger attributes is a very cool mechanic that's rewarding to tinker with. To illustrate this, you can equip 3 segments of an amulet that add elemental damage and boosts to your attacks as well as change your Devil Trigger's form. There are also some swords and guns to find and equip yet neither of them really add anything new to the already established formula.
Considering you can play through the campaign as either Dante or Lucia, there's definitely a solid amount of replay value. With that being said, both characters control similarly although I appreciate Lucia's ninja-like animations. Also, the 2 campaigns are nearly identical as you'll mostly traverse the same environments but you do get a different perspective on the story and Lucia's plot is impressively fleshed out and worth experiencing. Another aspect that I enjoyed are the boss fights; not because they're particularly challenging but because their designs are very memorable and imaginative such as a demon helicopter and plenty of monstrosities that seem like they broke free from some sort of alchemy laboratory. If fighting them was actually fun then they'd be some top-notch bosses, that's for sure.
Many gamers' complaints with Devil May Cry 2 focus on its lack of challenge and even though I agree full-heartedly, what I find to be Devil May Cry 2's biggest flaw is the fact that its set in such vast environments which doesn't lend itself well at all to the action-focused gameplay formula. In the original, you're usually confined in arena-like settings which force you to strategically battle foes as their attacks often occupy the space that you're given to fight within. In this sequel, you can run past most enemies without a care in the world and even hide from some bosses while attacking them from a safe distance. That doesn't feel like Devil May Cry at all.
Of course, the lack of difficulty is a huge problem as you can mostly button mash your way through any situation so there's rarely a need to develop any strategies or learn enemy attack patters. A few of the bosses may trip you up but once you snap out of the lull that the game puts you in, you'll likely beat them on your second attempt. Finally, the setting of Devil May Cry 2 feels weird and out of place. The first game was set within a Castlevania-like haunted mansion and the atmosphere was spot-on as it constantly kept you on edge. Meanwhile, Devil May Cry 2 is mainly set within a sprawling city with ambience that's equivalent to taking a midnight stroll.
Although it's a huge letdown when compared to the timeless original, Devil May Cry 2 is still a solid and enjoyable 3D action game.
- + Intuitive gameplay with plenty of cool upgrades and abilities
- + Decent amount of replay value
- + Memorable boss fights
- - Vast environments don't complement the gameplay very well
- - Low degree of challenge is unrewarding
- - Setting feels haphazardly out of place