Why is Devil May Cry 2 the Worst?

Sequels have it tough. They must live up to the reputation of the original while making tangible improvements to justify their own existence. Some do it with great success. Others, like Devil May Cry 2, fail miserably.

It’s widely considered the worst entry in Dante’s demon-hunting escapades. In my opinion, it’s even worse than the God-awful DmC: Devil May Cry which has virtually nothing in common with the series besides the name.

There’s a huge gap between the worst and the best, so what exactly makes a good Devil May Cry game?

For me, stylish and challenging combat, slick boss battles and over-the-top characters are integral in making an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 2 severely lacks in all of these aspects.

Separate Ways

Devil May Cry 2 drops the ball immediately with its bland, incoherent story. It features two playable characters à la Resident Evil 2 with a separate set of missions for each.

Newcomer Lucia joins Dante on a quest to acquire ancient artefacts. They join forces to prevent Arius, a powerful and just slightly loony businessman, from attaining demonic power.

All of them suffer from character inconsistencies. Arius comes off as a shallow caricature of a villain. He transitions from a quiet and mysterious adversary into a feeble crybaby far too often, far too liberally.

Dante utters only a handful of lines throughout the whole game. His cocky personality has been replaced by that of a much more grounded nature. Gone are the mocking remarks regarding his adversary’s hideous appearance.

Lucia’s story tries too hard to create an emotional impact, but ends up creating none. As opposed to Trish’s resolve to change, her focus on self-pity leaves Lucia largely unlikable.

At the very least, playing as two characters means unique perspectives on the same story, right? Wrong. If anything, dividing the narrative between Dante and Lucia makes the already subpar plot even worse.

Certain plot-points become clear only once you start playing as Lucia halfway through the game. As a result, many events in Dante’s playthrough seem nonsensical at first.

While the game’s dystopian vibe deserves praise, both characters re-visit the same bland environments: deserted cityscapes and monotonous corridors. Most of the time, they also fight the same forgettable bosses.

Flock Off, Feather-Face!

Devil May Cry earned a reputation for its towering bosses. They introduce themselves as powerful, seemingly insurmountable adversaries, often prompting a humorous rebuke from Dante.

How many of them do you remember from the original? There’s the imposing giant spider, Phantom; the proud and intelligent Griffon (aka the Feather-Face); the horrifyingly formless Nightmare.

Mundus, the invisible yet ever-present king of demons, and Dante’s arch-enemy, the honourable Nelo Angelo.

Now, how many bosses from Devil May Cry 2 can you name? Arius springs to mind because he’s the main villain and frequently appears during story scenes. I recall Argosax, if only for his role as the final boss for Dante.

With a pair of white wolves at his command, Bolverk boasts some notable presence, but that’s not even half of them. The rest are just generic monsters who appear as end-level obstacles with no narrative context.

Can you recall who Jokatgulm is? Or what’s the difference between the Tartarussian and the Plutonian? Do you rejoice at the opportunity to fight an infested helicopter or a demonic skyscraper?

They lack in spectacle and, much like characters, in substance. Even worse, the game’s perplexingly forgiving difficulty strips encounters against them of any challenge.

Easy Automatic

Completing the original Devil May Cry on the Normal difficulty was already a noteworthy feat. Contrarily, Devil May Cry 2 generously rewards even your slightest accomplishment.

Oh, you went out of your way to ascend this small cliff? Here’s a Blue Orb fragment for your effort. Oh, you took damage while fighting demons? Please accept this full health replenishment before the upcoming boss battle.

What’s that? You completed a mission?! Take a couple of thousand of red orbs. Good job, little buddy.

I jest, but that’s exactly how Devil May Cry 2 feels most of the time. It awards you with the 1st place medal for merely participating, whereas the original made you earn every sliver of advantage.

This simplification applies to combat as well. Instead of providing you with new combat moves, any upgrades incrementally increase a weapon’s damage output. It limits your role to simply mashing the buttons.

Dante’s move-set has improved and he now performs cartwheels and somersaults; he runs up and along walls to dodge enemies. It looks cool, but rarely serves a practical purpose since most enemies go down without a fight.

Guns used to serve as a means to maintain a combo, juggle a smaller foe in the air or break their defence. But in the sequel, you can defeat most bosses simply by shooting from Ebony and Ivory.

Furthermore, Dante’s Devil Trigger lasts much longer right from the get-go. In the original, the Devil Trigger was mostly used to get you out of a tough spot or deal heavy damage when the enemy was made vulnerable.

It also replenished a small, but valuable amount of health while active. But in Devil May Cry 2, it’s like activating God Mode. Dante’s guns suddenly shoot like missiles and make short work of any enemy.

Heads or Tails?

Concluding on a positive note, Devil May Cry 2’s music rivals the original. In particular, the options menu track — “Realize, Regret… Resolution” — and the eerily ambient “Unholy Relics” which plays during Lucia’s water levels.

“Heads or Tails” adds a punch to the game’s credits. But because it lacks any lyrics, the track fails to deliver the energy of Devil May Cry 3’s “Devils Never Cry” and Devil May Cry 4’s “Shall Never Surrender”.

Other than that, it comes as no surprise that media outlets rated Devil May Cry 2 poorly across the board. While the atmosphere and music hold up well, its story and characters resemble those of a low-budget play.

Bosses fail to make a statement whenever you encounter one. Every combat instance becomes easily forgettable due to the game’s low skill requirement and equally low challenge level.

If not for Dante’s signature appearance — his striking silver hair and long coat — you’d be forgiven for mistaking Devil May Cry 2 for a generic action game from the early 2000s.

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