As Largo of [Megatokyo] fame [notes], DevilMayCry is a game designed with the same sensibilities as a Hong Kong action movie. The plot's bad, the acting's worse, the swords are huge, the ammo's unlimited, and the action is largely non-stop.
Admittedly, most action movies have much better camera work than does DMC; the camera swings around at some pretty inopportune times, and the running controls suffer a bit from the problem CurtisVinson mentions with recent FinalFantasy games: you're holding one direction, and suddenly it's not the way you want to be going. This problem is mitigated slightly by the fact that if you keep holding the analog stick in a direction when the camera swings, you'll keep running the way you were going for a couple of seconds, giving you some reorientation time. The camera is sometimes frustrating, one of the game's major downers, but it's hard to see how they could have made it much better. For all the occasional annoying bits, the 3rd-person camera does work much better (given the format of the game) than I imagine a first-person or over-the-shoulder perspective would.
The game is reminiscent of several assorted games; it has a sort of ResidentEvil? feel to it, though perhaps ParasiteEveII? is a closer match (since you spend red orbs, which you get from killing enemies, on buffing up your character); the overall structure of the game is not unlike that of VagrantStory; and the swordfighting sometimes feels much like ZoneOfTheEnders?. All in all, it can be pretty well described as "Castlevania meets Blade".
You control Dante, a devil-hunter-for-hire, as he investigates the large castle and surrounding grounds on Mallet (it's pronounced "mal-lay"... yeah, my ass...) Island. At the start of the game, Dante has a large sword and two pistols for armament; as the game progresses he will pick up a thunder sword, some fire gauntlets (for assorted martial-arts punch-kick combos, as well as fireballs and other niftiness), and assorted additional firearms.
The game is fairly short; though it's divided up into 20+ "missions", some of them can be completed in less than 5 minutes (and a couple of them have to be). All told, the game can be beaten in one eight-hour sitting---at least on Easy-Auto. The difficulty levels scale pretty well, though: several of the harder enemies don't show up on Easy-Auto; after playing Easy-Auto, Normal may make you scream in pain at the additional difficulty; after playing Normal, Hard may make you scream in pain at the additional difficulty, as many harder enemies show up very early in the game (shadows, anyone?); after playing Hard, Dante Must Die! may make you scream in pain, since suddenly Marionettes are a force to be reckoned with again--let's not talk about the bosses. Additionally, the game does have replay value insofar as you may want to optimize methods for each level to the point where you can do things like get an 'S' rank on them when playing the game from scratch. [This sort of thing may not appeal to everbody, however, and if you find such things boring and repetitive, you may want to hold off on buying a copy...]
The only difficulty level available at the start is Normal; getting thrashed on the first level will prompt the game to ask you if you'd prefer Easy-Auto (which also then becomes an option upon starting a new game). Beating the game on Normal opens Hard, and beating the game on Hard opens "Dante Must Die!" and unlocks "The Legendary Dark Knight". After completing the game, there's also a New Game+-like feature which allows you to take your powered-up Dante back through the game from the start, to really trash all those bosses that gave you trouble the first time around (*cough*Phantom*cough*) or to get better rankings on the missions. (Also to make Hard remotely survivable, to speak nothing of DMD!)
Rankings, as Largo also notes, are given based on how well you're doing. You get these indicators at the end of each mission, from D up through S (the game also ranks combos this way, starting at Dull, then proceeding through Cool, Bravo, Absolute, and Stylish). This rating is based on time taken, damage sustained, items used, and a couple of other factors. Generally speaking, this means that you'll get a better rating if you're keeping your audience interested.
The soundtrack is pretty good; it generally sounds like what you'd expect of a techno/gothic version of TheMatrix?.
All told, the game isn't going to be the best of the year (I hope). The plot is very weak, and after the intro doesn't really surface again for a while, and you spend the first two-thirds of the game running arouund, killing stuff, and grabbing random items to unlock further areas where you can run around and kill more stuff. However, it does fairly ooze cool, and there's nothing like totally destroying a pack of marionettes. And it's got a totally gratuitous biplane. Worth renting, at least, if you have a PS2 and like action titles. If you're on campus and want to see the game, too bad; AndrewSchoonmaker has packed up and left for the year. Consider rental, or perhaps EvilSouthie will get a copy next year...
Oh, since this is out of date, but I'm not sure if anyone else has it: I mananged to pick up a copy of the DMC Trilogy for about 20 bucks at Best Buy, so, consequently, when I'm on campus, I have a copy of this game that can be lent out if desired. --KevinOelze
This is one of the GamesWhereYouKickTheDevilsAss?.