Review by Kakarot181

"Like doing the exact same thing two or three times in a game? Then you'll love this!"

Devil May Cry is the prime example of a series that has gone down in quality over the years. The first installment was phenomenal, practically reinventing the hack n' slash genre through superb use of cut scenes, a very detailed and enjoyable story, an awesome main character, a good balance in difficulty, and an all-around excellent control scheme. Beyond a doubt, the original is definitely one of the best games for the Sony Playstation 2, and to this day stands out as the supreme example of the genre.

Devil May Cry 2 attempted to catapult that singular success into a franchise. While successful in doing so, as can be seen in the two entries to the series that have followed and the millions of copies sold worldwide, the game was a marked step downwards. While still very fun to play and having a somewhat entertaining story, the game sacrificed difficulty and goes down as the easiest episode of the series to date. Despite that though, still a quality title and worth picking up.

Devil May Cry 3 however is where things got ugly. Not graphically, mind you! Visually stunning and with a great storyline of brother vs brother, the folks over at Capcom showed clearly that they knew how to create character and background models and proved that prequels did not need to go the route of Star Wars and have horrid plot lines in an attempt to add further depth to the overall story. However, Capcom seems to have appreciated the complaints of the easiness of Devil May Cry 2 a little too much, and as a result made this a tad more difficult. ... Okay, make that a little more than a tad. Let's just say that you know a game's hard when after dying a few times on medium the game sarcastically asks if you wouldn't like to go down to the kiddie section that is "Easy Difficulty." Bemoan though you may, most ended up doing so (myself included), and we still got our butts stomped! Add a finicky and stupid camera to the equation, and you have a game that alternates between destroying you utterly through insanely difficult enemies and not being able to see what you/they are doing at a given moment. Devil May Cry 3 could have given Ninja Gaiden a few lessons in terms of how to make a game aggravatingly difficult, to be completely blunt, as can be seen by the fact that Capcom eventually released a special edition that included a super special easy edition. Still worth playing, but mostly on your buddy's PS2.

Finally, we arrive at Devil May Cry 4, the first installment of the series on the next gen systems. And after playing through, I can tell you that Capcom seems to be in a bit of a quandary here. They know full and well that they could pump these games out to heck and back and make millions doing so for the rest of eternity, but they also want to try to tinker with what was good and bad with its predecessors and make a more perfect game. It seems odd though, as the original is easily the closest thing to perfection that this franchise will probably ever see, so you'd think that all Capcom would have to do would be to try to emulate that game and subsequently beef up the graphics. However, they instead changed some of the good elements of the previous games and kind of water them down, and take the bad elements and hastily try to fix those as well. All in all, the final product is a bit of haphazard at times, while nearing gaming greatness at points but more often than not approaching levels of aggravation and shoddy design that you thought would've went the way of the N-Gage.

Enough of that though... let's see where Devil May Cry 4 for the Xbox 360 gained and lost its points:

Note: The following contains only the mildest of spoilers, such as you'll start out playing as Nero instead of Dante and that the levels and bosses repeat.

Storyline

I would've loved to have been at the developer's table when this game was first pitched. "Hey guys, I know that Dante is one of the most popular video game characters introduced in the previous console generation, but let's just pull a Metal Gear Solid 2 and have you play as a different person for some reason." ... uh.... okay?

Alright, that's not entirely fair. At least in Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden looks different from Snake. Here, Nero and Dante look practically identical, with the same obligatory white hair to boot. The only thing that really differences the two are that Nero's more immature (though not nearly as immature as Devil May Cry 3 Dante!), he has a goofy power hand, and only one really hot female non-playable character is throwing herself at him. What's the same? Both are astonishingly strong, can take severe wounds without breaking a sweat, and like to shout smart-alecy comments when they're killing demons, thereby not only sending them back to Hades itself but also undoubtedly hurting their low self-esteem and making them complain on their blogs when they get back.

Now, you may be wondering why I'm talking about the characters and how they look when this is supposed to be the storyline section. That's because.... well..... there's a storyline? I'm kind of confused at that. I mean, sure.... kill demons cause they're demons, but oh no! Things aren't as them seem! It's kind of easy to have a plot twist when there really isn't much of a plot to begin with. Some morons are worshiping Sparda for keeping the Human World and Demon World's separate, and what do they want to do? Tick off the son of Sparda and try to reopen demon gates that their lord sealed two thousand years ago, of course.

If anyone else sees a problem with that basic plot overview, you won't be the only one. To be fair though, the game does redeem itself by making enemies that you actually come to hate, allies you come to really like, and switcheroos that make you wonder what the heck is wrong with them in the first place. .... though, I'll be honest here. When you see a certain someone pull a Mission Impossible-styled face-mask removal, you'll wonder what the heck the point of that was in the first place. Kind of a pointless plot twist, but what they hey? They're trying.

All told though, you will want to see the story through to the end, mainly because once you're about eight hours in, you don't want to just let the game sit on your shelf with a fourth of it to go or so. Oh yeah, that's right. It's pretty short, too. Sorry.

Gameplay

When you first start playing, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that Devil May Cry 4 seems to have returned to its origins by being neither obscenely hard or amazingly easy and not going completely overboard with useless customizations just so you have more stuff to unlock then are even remotely necessary. However, as time passes and as you continue playing, the game starts to be a little more than odd. Fights still remain mostly solid, and the use of stylish points to grade you and thereby award you with more points continues to make perfect sense. However, the costs for items and power ups seems to be more than a little inflated, especially as the game gives you a few dozen slots for each item type when you can barely afford more than one or two at any given moment in time. Add on to that that several bosses have very cheap moves that literally drain the life out of you and making you want more healing items, and you have a game that sometimes seems unnecessarily hard and too easy for very brief moments. Taken all-together however, the game does mostly a good job balancing difficulty and retaining core game necessities to be a truly enjoyable experience. Beyond any doubt, this is the best gaming in the series since the original, but don't be surprised to see yourself aggravated at a few times and wondering why the game had to be so short overall.

Level Design

This is the absolute critical flaw of the game. You play the first ten or so levels and find yourself really enjoying the pace of the game, fighting several major bosses, liking the detail put into the levels, and really enjoying the experience; however, beyond that, everything collapses like a house of cards. Most of the second half of the game has you backtrack everything you had done previously.

... now, let's make sure this is clear. You spend half the game playing a series of well-designed levels and original bosses, and then you repeat all of that in backwards order, the same bosses included. Now, there are minor stylistic changes here and there, like a lot more ice in one area, and the introduction of several new enemies, but more or less you'll find yourself being quite disappointed as you go through. We've all played games where we wonder why we should have to backtrack small areas, but Devil May Cry makes you do that.... for several hours!

To be completely honest, I was astonished at this. Zero Punctuation gave me a bit of a warning, but I took that with a grain of salt of Yahtzee being overly critical as usual. However, he is completely right here. I honestly don't get it in the least bit. This is very huge flaw on the game, to be fully blunt. It just makes no sense whatsoever that Capcom would do this, unless they were in a rush and didn't want to take the effort to make twenty actual levels and instead wanted to recycle seven or eight of them. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong. Thumbs down, Capcom.

Oh, and you have to fight the same bosses, too. But you already assumed that you'd have to fight them twice, right? So no big deal.

.... except that you have to fight them three times. Really. Brilliant game design.

Graphics/Sound

This is where Devil May Cry 4 shines. "Stunning" is the only word that can describe the game here. Graphically beautiful, very realistic sound effects, and an excellent musical score make this game a delight to see (too bad you have to see most of it twice, ba-dum-tssshhh) and hear. This is what games of this generation should look like, and I guarantee that you won't be disappointed here.

Replay Value

eh, not so much. Sure, its nice you can go through and play any level you want at various difficulty levels, but odds are that you've already played through them twice just to beat the game in the first place, so I honestly don't see why you'd really want to.

Overall - 6/10

With all the negatives in mind, the game overall is actually nothing more than a solid "okay." It's worth playing through at least once, and odds are that you'll have mostly fun doing so, but there are major legitimate complaints that can be levied against it. To be honest, after beating the game, I was left wondering if it was really worth $60, and I'm still not entirely sure. That's never a good sign.

Rent or Buy?

Honestly? I'm leaning towards "rent" here. I'm a fan of the Devil May Cry series in the sense that I've bought all four titles so and absolutely loved the first game, but I'm hardly what you could call a fanatic, so my opinion my be very different from some of the rapid fans of the series. However, even with that in mind, I honestly don't understand why the game's getting so many 10s and 9s and even 8s on this site and many others. Maybe I'm just not getting something here, but I can truthfully tell you that Devil May Cry 4 is a game that causes the good and the bad to collide with each other and mostly wash each other out. It's neither horribly bad, but it's not amazingly good either. It's a lot better than a lot of the junk out there, but its also a lot worse than some of the quality titles that we've come to see over the previous two console generations.

It's worth trying, and that's what I suggest you do. Rent it first, and either thank me for saving you $55 or complain that I made you spend an extra $5 for a game that you buy immediately after its due date back at the video store.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/11/08

Game Release: Devil May Cry 4 (US, 02/05/08)


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