Born from the ashes of a Resident Evil 4
prototype, Devil May Cry
emerged as an entirely new type of game. Led by Hideki Kamiya (who infamously struggled as Resident Evil 2
's director) and producer Shinji Mikami, DMC
took the framework of the original Resident Evil
(exploring a haunted mansion) and removed the key element (limited resources). In its place, they made a game around exhilarating combat influenced by 3D action games as well as Capcom’s own fighting games. You could fire guns akimbo at an enemy, similar to Laura Croft, and juggle them in the air like Street Fighter
. The game ridiculed, celebrated, and rewarded based on the player's capability in switching up moves and styles without missing a beat.
The original DMC
holds up well despite it being the oldest and simplest of the series. The castle, in which the majority of the game takes place, remains one of the greatest examples of immersive level design. There are lessons to be learned here by any working level designer and developer. The way paths eventually link, the detailed rooms, and the brilliant final act that transforms familiar spaces to create unease in the player are still striking design choices that make DMC
a joy to play, even a decade later.
Due to the game’s lovely art direction and level design, DMC
holds up pretty well after all these years. Its textures and geometry are just simple enough to make the game look dated but not necessarily ugly. There are certain quirks, however. While the in-game action and cutscenes are in glorious HD widescreen in the re-release, the menus and cinematics are not. It’s especially odd since Pipeworks Software, the developer of the collection, went through the trouble of putting in the Xbox 360 buttons and controller layout where appropriate in the menus.
Then there are some issues that remain problematic, after all these years -- no, I’m not talking about the platforming. The lip-syncing and terrible audio mixing that renders the dialog inaudible, at times, are as bad as they have ever been; a sharp reminder that in 2001, Capcom was still in the early days of crafting cinematic experiences for consoles. While rough around the edges, the level design remains the best in the series even if future entries improved elsewhere (and then some).