Originally created 02/20/03

Eerie follow-up a solid, if flawed, adventure

"Devil May Cry" was a backbreaker.

When it was released back in 2001, it seemed designed to bring even the best gamers to their knees, fingers smoking and brain fried by the effort to defeat a game that was amazingly hard to beat.

Now we have "Devil May Cry 2," from Capcom for the PlayStation 2. Another demoralizing assault on the senses?

Not a chance. Capcom has taken much of the oomph out of the earlier version, producing a kinder, gentler DMC with much of the sting taken out of Dante's quest.

This time, there's also a second character, Lucia. While Dante dispatches demons with a huge sword or twin .45s dubbed Ebony and Ivory, Lucia uses a variety of knives to wreak havoc in a shorter version of Dante's travails.

The guns, Dante's backup weapons, are great fun to use. You can shoot demons into the air and hold them there while you riddle them with bullets. However, using the sword is just as deadly and a lot faster - one or two swipes as opposed to 10-15 seconds of gunfire to kill the same demon.

Pickup weapons, including an amazingly effective rocket launcher, are a lot more fun.

If you're a survivor of the first game, you'll be stunned at how easy it is to blast through the first few missions. There are some tough spots, but they're difficult mainly because of puzzles that need solving, not because your enemies are so formidable.

In fact, the swarms of demons and monsters often thoughtfully wait their turn while you chop them up one by one.

Speaking of being chopped up, that fate should befall the designers whose task was arranging camera angles. In many cases they're just impossible to deal with. Since there is no way to adjust your view, you find yourself moving to a spot where you can actually see. At times, the camera zooms out for no apparent reason, turning Dante into a sword-swinging ant.

Some bosses are daunting, it's true. Dante has a number of tricks he can call on to best them, including powered-up "devil" abilities which you will need to solve certain problems impeding your progress.

For instance, without the "run" upgrade, you won't be able to get through a gate before it closes. With that boost, it's a piece of cake. Also available to aid your efforts are a variety of power-ups which serve such purposes as restoring health or your "devil" gauge.

There are also a lot of hidden or hard-to-reach goodies scattered throughout the game, so take a whack at whatever you find; there might be something you will need inside a concealed room.

Graphics get a B. They're an improvement over the original. Dante must roam through vast deserted cities and subterranean tunnels, across rooftops and around vast halls. Details are nicely drawn, although the palate seems restricted and the colors muted and dull.

Sound gets a C. The battle music isn't conducive to combat. The background score is appealing, but weapons sounds aren't as exciting as they could be and the voice acting leaves me unimpressed.

Control is another C. There is no way to design your own controller layout. It's not hard to utilize weapon attacks, but the often bizarre camera angles take much of the fun out of the game.

"Devil May Cry 2" gets a C+. It's not bad. It's just not up to the level of the first version and in the world of videogames, if you're not moving ahead, you're falling behind. Fix the camera and ratchet up the difficult a half turn and "Devil May Cry 3" will be a winner.

"Devil May Cry 2" is rated M, for ages 17 and up.

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