Review by Npeaen

"Nero May Cry"

Devil May Cry 4 is the first next gen offering in this critically acclaimed series. This also marks the first time the series has appeared on a non Sony console. The game has some mighty shoes to climb into after Devil May Cry 3 and for the most part, the game succeeds. The three year development cycle certainly shows at some truly spectacular parts of the game, while other parts feel like they were largely ignored. While the game is certainly worth a look once all is said and done, those areas that were ignored do rear their ugly head on occasion marring an otherwise fantastic gaming experience. What are these problems? Read on!

While the game certainly isn't the best that the Xbox 360 has to offer in terms of graphics, they manage to hold their own in the game without a problem. There were times where I found it very difficult to believe that what was going on onscreen wasn't prerendered, and there were other times where the environments looked like they're made out of plastic. For the most part of the game looks stunning though with a few instances of sub par graphics that drag the game down. The special effects the game throws out there and look pretty good, ranging from rocket launchers exploding to enemies ripping apart into a pile of guts. Of course none of it looks realistic, but it's so over the top and entertaining in appearance that I just can't care if it looks realistic, it still looks fantastic. The game animates pretty well. All the enemies look like they move fluidly, the two playable main characters move pretty well, with only a few instances where things look a little twitchy but there's certainly no robotic movements visible in the game. A particular highlight of the games animations are the cut scenes, both in the middle of boss fights and at random points during the missions. These all look wonderfully over-the-top and even when they seem similar to one another they manage to remain fun to watch over the entire course of the game. The frame rate usually chugs along at about 60 frames a second but there are a few times when the frame rate really drops and it's very noticeable when this happens. Load times are certainly longer than they were in previous Dell May cry games, but they don't really create much of a problem. The longest load time I saw him the game was about 10 seconds. That's not long enough to take me out of the action, but it may distract some people in their play experience. For most part though, the graphics in this game are pretty impressive and get the job done.

It all sounds very similar to Devil May Cry games if you've ever played them before. What that means is you get a lot of background music in the form of hard/metal rock sound that's entirely forgettable but fits with the mentality of the game sense of what's cool stuck in the late 80s to early 90s perfectly. Accompanying this soundtrack is your standard sword slashing, guns blazing, various monsters making horrifying noises sound effects to make you feel like you're actually doing a lot of damage when you hear it. The most noticeable change in sound from the previous titles is the quality of voice acting. While in Devil May Cry one and two the voice acting was pretty sub par with some improvement in three, four manages to stand out with extremely good voice acting, at least given the script they had to work with. While the audio gets the job done without a problem, and is improved from previous Devil May Cry games in this area, it's nothing spectacular and that's not what I'm going to remember this game for.

This series has always been known for having very sharp controls, and the fourth entry in the series does not disappoint. The controls react appropriately, they feel good to use, and can allow you to easily do some very very interesting looking moves on screen. The controls are not perfect though, the Xbox 360 D-pad does not work very well with Dante's segment of the game at all. Using the D-pad you can change Dante's style and it should be a quick painless experience that can lead to some truly spectacular combos. However, because the Xbox 360 D-pad is set up as one giant blob, when you move your hand back to an analog stick you will often find you move it to another style by accident, I can't count how many times I meant to switch to the style that you choose by pressing right on the d-pad and when I go back to playing I find that I've actually switched to the style chosen by pressing up. It's an extremely frustrating problem that's simply the controller's fault, and while it doesn't detract from gameplay it certainly frustrated me while I tried to pull off stylish looking moves.

For those of you who've played Devil May Cry before you won't be in for much of a surprise. You run around in a variety of environments killing demon looking things with swords and guns in as stylish a way as you possibly can. This core gameplay holds up extremely well and I can't recall one instance of combat in the game that I was actually bored. While running through these maps you'll often have to solve very simple puzzles at the end of which you're rewarded with an extremely entertaining boss fight, usually accompanied by an amusing cut scene of some sort both before and after the fight. It's a good thing the boss fights are so good, as this is the first Devil May Cry game that I played which actually has you do a majority of the boss fights three separate times.

The biggest changes in game play come in the form of difficulty and combat itself. For this entry in the series you'll find most of your time spent playing as the newcomer Nero. Nero bears an uncanny resemblance to series regular Dante and has a similar attitude to boot. In his gameplay sections you'll be spending a lot of your time using this new weapon called the Devil Bringer. It serves as an extremely powerful punching tool and a grappling hook. Using this can be quite entertaining, but it feels very overpowered and I often found myself using it significantly more than any other weapon available to me. After a while you take over as Dante, who plays about it the same as he did in Devil May Cry 3, which means you'll be spending a lot of time using your sword and keeping the crowds at bay with guns. Unlike Nero, Dante acquires a new weapon every time he beats a boss and by the time you finish his segment of the game, you'll have three guns and three melee weapons. As I mentioned earlier, when you're playing as Dante you can switch styles on the fly which means you can use the B button to either pull off a cool looking sword move, spend time dodging, firing a gun in interesting ways, or just flat out parrying attacks (this is an extremely difficult style to use).

As with the other games in this series you'll collect to red orbs which serve as currency at the shops scattered throughout the levels. In the other games you would use this currency to buy new moves for your character. DMC4 begs to differ! Now this currency can now only be used to buy items. Instead of buying moves with red orbs, you are now rewarded with something called proud souls at the end of each mission. Spending these allows you to gain new moves. As you buy new moves you will find your character becoming increasingly more powerful and you'll find boss fights becoming significantly easier the second and third time around because of this.

The other major difference that veteran players will see is that the game is significantly easier. While the difficulty settings that would make anybody put their controller through a TV still exist, the default difficulty settings that most players will encounter on their first playthrough is very easy compared to other Devil May Cry games. This isn't really a bad thing as it makes the game friendlier to newcomers of the series, but it will annoy series veterans when they find themselves unchallenged on their first run through of the game.

The main game takes about eight to 10 hours to get through your first time. And what's there is very entertaining. The core gameplay is fantastic. The cutscenes that deliver the mostly forgettable story range from entertaining to funny with only a few moments where the humor comes off as more embarrassing than funny. The game does have a fair amount of unlockables to get people to play through more than once and some very difficult achievements for the veterans to try and master.

While the core game play holds up very well in 2008 a few things like lowered difficulty, fairly short game length, a forgettable story, and some very large recycled environments issues(Dantes section consists entirely of Neros levels in reverse) do detract from the experience. However, the combat coupled with the entertaining characters and completely over the top cinematics overshadow the problems that this game suffers from. At least give this a rental if you have any interest in it whatsoever. And if you've had problems with the difficulty in double may cry games of the past, this is as good a place as any to jump back in.
Final Score: 8.6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/11/08

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

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