It's interesting that Scott mentioned my quote about preferring games that revolve "around what you do, not how you do it" in regard to Devil May Cry 3 (DMC3) because I think this is one of the rare times when my usual stance doesn't apply. Frequent readers of the site will know that I have no love of this series, and I'd say that the original Devil May Cry is one of the most overrated games in recent memory, its numerous flaws and rough edges granted a complete "pass" by fans the world over. However, after playing through Dante's Awakening, I think I can finally see what people like about this series… though I would argue that it wasn't really there until now.
Before going further, my second opinion is based on the Special Edition of DMC3, released domestically under the PlayStation Greatest Hits banner. There are a number of differences between this version and the version that Scott reviewed such as a new boss encounter, the ability to play as Dante's twin brother Vergil, and a bonus mode with a 100-floor dungeon. However, all of those things pale compared to the most significant addition: adjustments to the difficulty level.
I tried playing the first release of DMC3 and was completely put off by the absurd challenge present. I know that Scott said it wasn't very much different from any other action game, but I would have to strongly disagree. I don't mind some difficulty, but I'm also not in the market for a stress anxiety disorder. I thought that Capcom was crazy for some of the choices they made, but everything I didn't like the first time around has been completely rectified.
With the simple inclusion of mid-mission checkpoints that should have been there in the first place, almost all of my frustration was completely eliminated. Besides that, the Easy difficulty is now even easier than it was before (for those who want it) and the new Gold Orb restart system lets players continue the battle exactly where they died. Since all of these changes are optional, the same level of challenge is there for players who crave it, but it's only a good thing to have more options. I can't stress enough what a significant improvement in design and accessibility these new changes are, so huge kudos to Capcom for that.
Now that my thumbs and blood pressure can finally take a break, it was a lot easier to appreciate the things that Dante's Awakening brings to the table. The variety in weapons is excellent, and Dante has butter-smooth animation to bring his ferocious attacks to life. Like I said earlier, this game is one rare example where "how I do it" actually takes precedence over what I'm doing. Switching on-the-fly from whirling nunchuks to sparking pistols to flaming uppercuts and finishing a group of reapers with a french kiss from a rocket launcher is entertaining enough on its own to make up for the simplistic goals of each level, although I must say I am a bit surprised to admit it.
Impossibly, the cutscenes are even more over-the-top than the action, and while I don't usually appreciate this sort of Goes-To-Eleven approach to videogame virility, I have to disagree with Scott and say that it works here. Similarly, I thought that the game's attitude towards characterization and storytelling were equally effective—neither will win any awards or stand out as an example of excellence in writing, but there is a strange release in experiencing something rabidly, offensively gonzo and being okay with it.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening still has some issues. Regardless of the difficulty, I don't think I will ever be a fan of going back and repeating stages for the sake of collecting upgrade points, and the developers should invest in a copy of God of War to learn a few things about good camera placement. However, I can't deny that DMC3 is a runaway freight train crashing through the walls of moderation with a load of nitroglycerin and testosterone in tow. And besides, I thought that purple bat-shooting hooker-guitar was pretty cool.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the re-released special edition of the game.