Sony is skipping the PlayStation 2 Classics this week, most likely to make way for the Devil May Cry HD Collection. Capcom's demon slaying series is credited with laying the groundwork for modern hack n' slash games like Ninja Gaiden, God of War, and Bayonetta. Others have found ways to trump all the ideas Capcom brought to the table, and the entire genre itself has taken a serious backseat to the shooters out there. How do these granddaddies hold up now?
Ehhh, not so bad. I played Devil May Cry recently, and I didn't have any problems with it. The fixed camera angles make it obvious that game began life as Resident Evil 4, and that' generally the biggest grievance most have. However, these Onimusha and Resident Evil roots also create a sense that the first Devil May Cry is closer to an adventure game with a free flowing world rather than a stage-by-stage action game the series would eventually become. It's unique in that regard, and tagged with the combat, which still holds up well, it's definitely still worth playing.
Nobody ever liked Devil May Cry 2, and nobody should now. The fixed camera angles of the original might have made seeing all the action difficult, but it created some great moments of in your face action. The second game pulls the camera way back to the point where the gamer feels more like a spectator than a participant, and getting a view of the whole battlefield destroys the claustrophobia that kept the original in check. Plus, the series' half-demon protagonist, Dante, takes a vacation from being a fun character for this round and even makes his latest iteration from Ninja Theory look charismatic by comparison.
Devil May Cry 3 finds a balance between the fixed cameras of the original and distance created in the second, and the result is the best all around game in the series. Dante has four melee weapons and each melee weapon has four stances, creating plenty of chances for experimentation. The HD Collection also includes the Special Edition of this game which means it's no longer unfairly difficult. I've never played this version, but it must be nice to die in a boss fight and not go back to the beginning of the level.
So for $30, these three games can be yours today. Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3 are worth the price of admission, but asking $10 for Devil May Cry 2 might be too much. It's probably the reason Capcom isn't going to release these games individually.