Review by Solid Sonic
BEST FEATURES: Stylish combat with stylish graphics to match, Nero brings a whole new side to the DMC experience, impressive voice acting, properly optimized for the PC platform
WORST FEATURES: Too much backtracking when you take control of Dante, absolutely requires a gamepad for the full experience
What does it take to make a devil cry? How about a triple-S combo? That's Devil May Cry in a nutshell. Take control of a devil hunter whose sole objective is to slice, dice and maim any and all demons who might be unfortunate enough to cross your path...and make it look good. The last game in the series brought the series of a near-rut after an unfortunate second outing. With a new start on a new generation of consoles, can Devil May Cry make its mark on PC gamers too?
Fortuna plays host to the setting of the fourth installment of the infamous devil hunting series. Unlike the darker and more Gothic-like settings of the previous Devil May Cry games, Fortuna casts a refreshing contrast into the series featuring splendid old-world settings such as European-styled cities and grand castles as well as lush forests and aged temples. The change in setting really shows off the generation leap between this and the previous installment on the PS2. Much of the game takes place under the sun, which is a change for Devil May Cry. The art direction for the game is fantastic and the character models are richly detailed. Accenting this is smooth animation that brings the crazy combat home (some of Nero's Devil Bringer animations are simply mind-blowing). The game is so much better optimized for PCs than the previous few Capcom PC games (which were sloppy and rushed). Topping it off are some of the best looking enemies and demons the series has seen to date and together the package is a stellar-looking first step into the next generation of game systems.
Depending on whether or not you liked the music from the third installment, your reaction will be unchanged in Devil May Cry 4. For the most part, DMC4 features the same kind of techno-metal music that can be found in its predecessor. Away from the music, the sound effects in this game are clean and atmospheric. The cackle of a demon's laugh to the sound of a sword cutting through the flesh of an enemy, its always enough to get your blood going. However, getting the most praise here is the superb voice acting. Between the snappy one-liners to the passionate words of a stricken lover, Devil May Cry 4's cast makes their characters come alive. Dante with his now-famous confidence and jovial attitude is now playing opposite to Nero's passion and determined mentality and their voice actors both bring out the best in each.
Devil May Cry's strongest suit is its insane combat and it wouldn't be possible without a responsive, intuitive control scheme. I can't recommend playing this on a keyboard (as some people seem to be). To get the most out of the game and experience the riveting combat the series has made famous, a gamepad is nothing less than a must (as a Games for Windows title, DMC4 natively supports the Xbox 360 controller and comes pre-configured for it). Once you are playing on a controller, be prepared to experience combat on a scale unrivaled in gaming today. Jumping, dodging and attacking are all easy to perform. Stylish combat is performed with mere taps of a button as blazing sword strikes and gunfire fill the screen with a flurry of demon-mashing mayhem.
Well, we've reached the climax of this review: the gameplay. The part where I address the insane combat and unique flavor that only Devil May Cry can provide. As I said previously, Devil May Cry 4's most important element is how well it handles battles. Its never enough to just defeat an enemy. To truly succeed at DMC, making a show out of your battles is par for the course. Dispatching enemies typically includes tossing them in the air, juggling them with gunfire, slicing them 5 times before they even hit the ground, grabbing them and slamming their face into the concrete and a snappy one-liner to cap it all off. The flow of the game is geared towards this with clean level designs and simple puzzles to always keep the action in focus. Nero's new Devil Bringer arm changes the approach for combat as close combat is more important than it has been in previous games. Add to that the Rev property of his sword and Nero will present a unique challenge for even seasoned DMC players. On the other side of the coin, demon-hunter-for-hire Dante returns with a new free-style switch system that enables him to move between his four Styles (and five later on) at any time as opposed to being locked to a single style at a time as he was in the third game. Both characters can tap into their dark side and embrace the devil within to increase their power and expand their moves. New moves can be purchased for all facets of combat to further ramp up your insane combos (and a redesigned shop system ensures that new technique purchases are separate and distinct from items so its easier to focus on earning new skills than it has been before). DMC4's difficulty is more finely balanced than its predcessor's so new players won't be so daunted at first while series veterans can still find the challenge that they desire. Topping it off, the grand-scale boss battles mandate a deft mix of style and strategy to successfully defeat them and still earn a proper stylish rank. No game out there has yet to match Devil May Cry's design and approach to combat and DMC4 is quite possibly the most elaborate showcase yet.
Replay Value: 7
So, is devil hunting an experience worth reliving? In some ways, it is. The main narrative once again tells the tale of demons and swords as a holy order plots to "enlighten" the world with its religious zealotry and to do so involves the demon swords of the legendary Dark Knight Sparda. For most of the game, the player controls new protagonist Nero but about midway the control switches to DMC's central character, Dante, before ending with Nero once again. Being an action game, the progression is straightforward and linear but hidden areas and Secret Missions still leave some room for exploration. The game has a number of extras and also includes new features not found in the console versions (Turbo Mode and a new "enemies-everywhere" Legendary Dark Knight difficulty). Emphasizing the best part of DMC4, Bloody Palace returns from DMC3:SE with 101 floors of pure devil slaying insanity which provides a great field to practice improving one's combat skills. However, it must be said that the main game does disappoint in the sense that no new areas were created for Dante's portion of the game. Aside from a few unique sections within the levels, Dante only visits areas previously traversed while playing as Nero. In fact, Dante is only given one unique boss during his time as a playable character and otherwise fights bosses that were already defeated by Nero (and then Nero is forced to fight the same bosses AGAIN in a single mission after he returns), which as a whole drains out a lot of the potential for replay (at least of the main game). Its a pity Capcom didn't go to the effort to give Dante a more full experience because his play style is entirely unique from Nero's and provides a welcome change of pace that at least keeps the gameplay fresh. Luckily, if you can get past this fact, DMC4's stylish combat and various unlockables should be enough to keep the typical gamer enticed.
In the end, Devil May Cry 4's greatest emphasis is given to its crazy and unique style that other games can emulate but never replicate. The proper optimization for the PC platform makes up for the messy, slapdash PC port of Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (which wasn't even handled by Capcom) and shows real effort on Capcom's part to properly bring DMC4 to PCs. Even if part of the game is recycled to a point of redundancy at times, the unparalleled gameplay makes up for that fact. The clean, polished graphics mixed with the smooth animation and sublime voice acting serve up a deep player experience while the story will keep you playing to the end. If your PC can run this game (download the demo and run the included performance evaluator to find out for yourself), I'd definitely recommend it (of course, get yourself a gamepad to fully appreciate the game). Its fast, fun and all about style, leaving you begging for more at the end (and I can only hope that there is more on the way).
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/25/08, Updated 07/28/08
Game Release: Devil May Cry 4 (US, 07/08/08)
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