In a lot of ways, Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2 are the antithesis of one another, both in-terms of their overall production and in-terms of my reaction to them. In my last review, I summarized what I thought in saying that although the original Devil May Cry may have had some hang ups in the character and story department, it more than made up for it with a balls-to-the-wall, fun action videogame with an influence that can still be felt today. I left Devil May Cry wanting more from Capcom, and even though I was late, I was now willing to consider myself a fan of Dante and his ongoing fight against Hell.
This wasn’t my reaction to Devil May Cry 2, and, in fact, it was entirely the opposite of that. In some ways, it felt like the stars aligned too. Last week, due to an internet outage on my only day, I found myself with nothing to do, and, because of that, completed Devil May Cry in a single-sitting, six-hour playthrough. This week, the Midwest experienced a bad snowstorm, and so, I was shut-in for a couple days. Needless to say, I reacted by sitting down and embarking on a new journey with Dante, completing Devil May Cry 2 in shy of five hours.
The difference was, however, in my reaction to it. I wasn’t left wanting more with the new sequel and the hours didn’t fly by, but, instead, it was honestly, and unfortunately, a grueling, tedious playthrough altogether.
Thing is, I knew about it. I had read all the articles about Devil May Cry 2’s development. I knew already how it was considered a disappointment amongst series fans, and I knew a lot about the changes that had been made. As much as I knew all of that, I also knew I would to see for myself, and I’ll be honest – I wasn’t ready for how much I wouldn’t enjoy it.
Straightaway, I was deterred by the visuals, which felt spacious and, frankly, bad to look at, filled to the brim with nothing, but a whole lot of it. The biggest undertaking for Devil May Cry 2 is not a certain enemy, but, instead, deciphering what is a part of the background and what offers a passageway for your progression. The music has been neutered, stripping away the upbeat, energetic music of yesteryear’s Devil May Cry. Instead, we’re left with something blander and, no pun intend, unnoteworthy.
When I started the campaign, I had braced myself for a lot of the criticisms I’d heard about. I didn’t think I would mind a whole lot that the gameplay was easier nor did I think I would care about its dependency on button-mashing against enemies. Frankly, as fun as I thought the original was, I wasn’t kidding myself in thinking it was this in-depth, methodical videogame that required the utmost strategy. It had a learning curve to overcome early on, but, it was a learning curve easy enough to overcome very early on.
All that said, I didn’t appreciate exactly what everyone meant by that. This is, literally, an experience in which you can get by from holding down gunfire and pacing around aimlessly. I died maybe a dozen times in Devil May Cry, but escaped absolutely unscathed in the sequel. It isn’t a badge of honor, but a reflection of how easy it is to accomplish. When the enemies aren’t rehashed from the earlier installment, they’re goofy and repetitive, with battles against zombie helicopters and tanks that feel like they go on and on. It is remarkable that a full retail release that can be completed in a little over four hours, feels remarkably padded and like I could’ve shaved off more time had the level layouts not seemed so unintuitive.
I criticized the character and story of the last Devil May Cry. Although I don’t want to backpedal on either of those things, it is worth mentioning how they felt tertiary to everything else about it. That doesn’t mean they have a free pass for those shortcomings, because they don’t. Had they not incorporated a story altogether, that’d be different, but, they did, and thus, it is counted into the overall product. The story and character of Devil May Cry 2 is similar, but, in most ways, much worse than that. Calling Dante a wise-cracker by the original game alone is a bit of a stretch. He has a couple lines, here and there, but isn’t exactly Nathan Drake. This portrayal, on the other hand, is a blackhole of charisma and personality, which, coupled again with the lack of stylish music and general flow of gameplay, makes it all a very humdrum affair.
When I write reviews on Nightmare Shift, I try not to be too much of a downer about what I write about. After all, somebody made this and I wouldn’t want someone to scorch something I’ve made unjustly. Unfortunately, it is clear that something had to give for Devil May Cry 2. Whether it be studio interference, a lack of proper resources, deadlines, or the left hand not talking to the right, Devil May Cry 2 is a half-baked mess.