Honestly, I think the game is a little hard done to. It's certainly not a great game, and some parts of it are truly dreadful and rightfully slated. A boss fight against a zombie helicopter sounds interesting on paper, but in execution...we know how that turned out!
I don't think it's an awful game all-round though. I'd say it's certainly the weakest title in the franchise (reboot included), but the gameplay additions in this title helped lay the framework for DMC3, which stands amongst the best titles in the entire genre. The extra movement options that the dodge button offered were re-worked in Dante's Trickster style. The Ebony & Ivory technique Twosome Time debuted in this game (although I don't think it was given that name here), and the Shotgun combo-enders were used for the Gunslinger style. Even Fireworks is in this game! The concept behind the Flame, Frost and Electro Hearts was also re-used in DMC3, where weapons did elemental damage and would be more/less useful depending on the enemy you were facing.
Interestingly, they changed the core system for melee attack strings. In other titles, you could vary combos by leaving a pause between certain inputs. In this game, you could use alternate combos by pushing the control stick in a direction at the same time as attacking. This wasn't particularly well received by most players, and while i'd agree it's not a good decision, I don't think it makes the game significantly worse. You can unlock Trish in this game, and her gameplay style completely ditches the new string system in favor of the one found in the other titles.
Combo videos aren't to everybodies taste, but I think this one by Javelina Devil is particularly impressive given it demonstrates gameplay from a title that is renowned for having poor combat.
What do you guys think of the game? As bad as the general consensus suggests, or underrated to an extent?