Cry 3 over the weekend, I've come to the conclusion that
comments were spot-on, as well as a certain
old strip that manages to be relevant to this game as
I've been playing games with Gabriel for, oh, I'm going to say eleven years now - and not until Devil May Cry 3 have I seen him raise the controller back and hurl it across the room.
At the risk of sounding like
I'm whining - which I may very well be - this is the most
true and honest reaction to DMC 3 that I've seen yet.
Over at Gamerankings, DMC 3
is still managing to garner an
average 84% rating. Looking empirically at it, that's
not that bad; the original Devil May Cry ranks up at 92%,
and Devil May Cry sits comfortably at a 72%. I would
fervently argue that both DMC 3's and DMC 2's ratings are a
result of what I term "score inflation" - let's face it,
certain games, either because a big-name publisher is
pushing them, because they're sequels to a long-beloved
title, or some other form of hubris, just don't get the bad
reviews that they should. Devil May Cry 3 is a perfect
example of this - it commits any number of sins that Devil
May Cry 2 committed, but because it's not DMC 2, reviewers
and gamers alike are willing to give it a free pass for
being "not as bad as" its predecessor.
Despite this, playing DMC 3,
or really any of the DMC titles, is a perfect way to examine
the do's and don'ts of creating a "difficult" video game,
because the difficulty is not so much a function of the game
itself, but piss-poor game design masquerading as
Without further ado, my list
of Do's and Don'ts to create a challenging, yet still FUN,
3D beatdown video game:
- Give the enemies
abilities that are roughly even with the character, or
maybe a little superior.
- Have the enemies
telegraph their moves to some realistic degree.
- Keep the camera far
enough back that the player can see the threats that are
coming towards him.
- Give the player realistic dodging and/or blocking
- Give the player a wide enough range of attacks that
keeping enemies off of his/her back is a realistic goal.
- Give the player a distinct lack of blocking/dodging
options, or blocking/dodging options that have startup
delays and cancel delays.
- Zoom the camera so close in that we can see the
character's rippling chest muscles, but can't see the
enemy charging up Devastating Attack #3 five feet away.
- Give the enemies moves that have no telegraphing
(The stage 2 boss's charging scythe frenzy is a perfect
- Insist that the player not get hit, then saddle them
with a large number of moves that take a long time to
complete and have limited threat range.
- Insist that the player not get hit, then hand the
enemies auto-targeting ranged attacks/dash attacks that
charge up off-camera.
- Institute a required "combo" system, yet make the
most health-friendly maneuvers in the game the ones that
clear enemies away from the character.
- Institute a required "combo" system as above, but
make ranged attacks (guns) either cancel the combo or
simply not add to it.
In terms of design, the game's not ALL bad. It is
definitely better than DMC 2 was; the ability to switch
between two equipped weapons, and two equipped guns, ensures
that. However, the difficulty of the game just doesn't come
from good game design. If the enemies were legitimately hard
to put down, or required skill, I'd have no problem - in
fact, I'd probably have enjoyed it a lot more.
The problem is that the game's entire difficulty, at
least on normal and hard modes (Dante Must Die and Heaven or
Hell modes being something else altogether), is based on bad
game design. The close-in camera angles, combined with
enemies charging up ranged attacks/teleport attacks/dash
attacks from off-screen, are a recipe for frustration. The
combo system is entirely counterintuitive, because for most
of the game Dante's in areas where he's being encircled by
enemies: only a few moves are useful for clearing these
enemies out (and thus avoiding getting hit), but repeating
moves lowers the combo score.
Most unfortunate of all are the
bosses, which still remind the player most fervently of DMC
2's worst mistake. Rather than have unique, fun bosses, we
are treated to cheesy, oversized monstrosities. In the first
Devil May Cry, defeating bosses was all about learning how
they moved and fought; Phantom was tough, but beatable once
you learned his telegraphs. Nelo Angelo was difficult for no
other reason than his attacks were very similar to Dante's.
Griffon, Nightmare, and Mundus were all about learning the
telegraphs. In Devil May Cry 2, unfortunately, much of the
strategy for defeating bosses was removed and for several of
them it was easy to simply find a corner where their attacks
would not connect, and blast away with guns. Devil May Cry 3
continues this trend, with multiple bosses encouraging the
player to continually play "keep-away" to survive the
initial fights. This is especially true for Cerberus,
because getting close enough to attack in melee brings the
camera close enough that his telegraphs are done off-screen.
I like the premise behind Devil May Cry, and much of the
substance. I have a few other gripes with this one, such as
the load times and questionable initial button layout, but
those can wait. I'm just appalled that Capcom, after
claiming that they were trying to clean up the Devil May Cry
game mechanics and make it more fun, have created a game
that is based more on frustrating the player than about
giving us a real challenge.
Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
right here for everyone to see!