Review by AK_the_Twilight

Reviewed: 04/10/08

The 4th Demon Hunt

It seems like just yesterday that the original Devil May Cry appeared on store shelves and captured the attention of many PS2 owners. Demon hunter Dante’s first adventure was arguably one of the best action games for the system, introducing a great beat-em-up engine with plenty of over-the-top boss battles and a bottomless reserve of style. Perhaps it was the original success of the first game that made Devil May Cry 2 a disappointment. Fans were let down by the second, but they didn’t need to worry. Devil May Cry 3 was Dante’s comeback game. The game introduced Styles, variety-filled move-sets that gave players many different ways to approach a battle. But today, Dante’s fourth adventure isn’t a PS2 exclusive. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 get a beautiful new Devil May Cry game featuring Dante and…some guy named Nero. Yes, there’s a new character to play as. Does Dante’s newest adventure and Nero’s debut continue to make the series great?

Devil May Cry 4 begins with the story of an odd Dante look-alike named Nero who has been “cursed” with a demonic arm called the Devil Bringer. Nero, along with his love interest Kyrie and her brother Credo are part of a sacred Order who worships the demonic hero Sparda. During the Sabbath, son of Sparda Dante shows up and makes a mess of the place. Nero begins his journey to bring Dante to justice only to get himself wrapped in a conspiracy beyond the Order’s original goal. Dante and some other familiar characters make appearances throughout Nero’s narrative and there are plenty of twists to keep the player interested. Don’t expect Final Fantasy quality storytelling, but you’ll find yourself paying attention to the storyline, at least to get to the next battle.

Controlling the characters is generally like past games in the series. Run with the left thumbstick, jump with A, shoot with X, melee attack with Y. New to the series is Nero’s special attack using the Devil Bringer. Pressing B lets Nero unleash an enemy-specific attack. Want to take out that lance-wielding enemy? Why not steal the lance and attack him with it? The Devil Bringer can also be used to grab enemies from a distance and can even be used as a grappling hook for specific areas. Playing as Dante, however, is mindfully reminiscent of Devil May Cry 3. The multiple styles return with their expected movesets, and they can now be switch off on the fly with a tap of the D-Pad. Switching weapons was cool enough, but now successive combos are even easier and cooler to utilize. The game’s controls feel a bit more confining than those of Devil May Cry 3 , but there’s enough room to practice and playing as both characters turns out to be a serious blast.

If you’ve played any of the past Devil May Cry series, the core gameplay will seem familiar to you. As either Dante or Nero, you must explore these extravagant worlds of gothic castles to refreshingly bright outdoor environments. Along the way you’ll find simple puzzles and fetch-quests, where you need a specific item to progress. These aren’t entirely difficult to figure out, but the game breaks up the simplistic exploration with some of the most enjoyable beat-em-up combat seen on the 360. That being stated, the combat remains over-the-top and enjoyable. Enemies, though there aren’t many types, come in some interesting forms. Fortunately, Dante and Nero’s skills are fun and diverse to use, something essential when aiming for a high rating. At the end of a mission, the player is ranked in specific skills, mostly how diverse your fighting style was during the mission. The combat is easy to link together; going from sword to gun on the fly is plenty fun and is a healthy balance to the rather sparse enemy types.

Devil May Cry 4 has its moments of repetition, and a major point is the bosses. The bosses are definitely creative and are a serious blast to battle both as Dante and as Nero. Which brings up a good point: you will fight them as Dante and Nero. The bosses are creative, challenging, and can be pretty colossal, but half the game is tracking your steps and fighting these gargantuan creatures once more. This still manages to be pretty interesting, but the diversity feels a bit staggered once you face down these monsters again. Also, the camera has a nasty tendency to get in the way. The camera can be controllable in specific moments, but the lock-on targeting (which will be a good friend during the course of the game) can make chasing an enemy a bit troublesome. The camera and repetition may set in, and some DMC veterans may find the checkpoint difficulty a bit on the light side, but Devil May Cry 4 is a great step in the series, keeping many of the better moments in motion.

Presentation has always been a solid factor in the Devil May Cry series and being the first next-gen installment of the series is no simple challenge. Fortunately, Devil May Cry 4 is a great-looking game. The lighting effects are crisp, and many of the outdoor levels are impressive. Dante and Nero’s over-the-top action sequences look even better thanks to the 360’s increased power and you’ll be seeing them a lot. The scenes are beautiful and brilliantly-choreographed; Dante’s absurdly-gravity-defying antics have never looked so good. To top off the amazing graphics is a soundtrack that just plain rocks. The sounds of metal music echoing during a high-intensity battle are great to listen to, although it would’ve been much better if the same themes weren’t recycled during every single battle. The voice acting is also a step up from Devil May Cry 4 . Nero’s story is remarkably deeper than Dante’s, and the excellent voice acting from near all of the characters is a much-needed improvement from the game’s predecessor. Famed anime voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch performs Nero’s role extremely well, as does Dante’s voice actor Reuben Langdon. Unlike the storyline of past Devil May Cry games, the fourth installment is deep enough to even be called heartwarming. But don’t worry; the sounds of crushing armor and sword slashes will keep the action at a good level, so the story isn’t the main event.

+ Consistently chaotic combat is fun
+ New story and characters are a clever diversion
+ Presentation is full of flare and action
+ Difficulty is successfully more merciful

- Platforming sequences are weak
- Level design and bosses are repetitive
- Camera can get in the way
- Gameplay feels a bit dated

The Devil May Cry series has no doubt had its amount of successes, and although the fourth installment doesn’t stack up to the amazingly over-the-top action of the third, Devil May Cry 4 is a great beat-em-up with some cool new ideas and classic combo-happy combat. It takes awhile to understand a lot of Nero’s character, but his solemn narrative is definitely worth fighting through the battles for. Fortunately, his battles are easier and considerably more merciful than Dante’s battles in Devil May Cry 3. There’s plenty of amazing cinematics and the entire game manages to look very good and runs at a solid clip. The smaller inclusions like Nero’s Devil Bringer and Dante’s style changes make the game a blast to play; there’s plenty of ways to shoot, slash, and take down enemies. The repeating of boss battles and the repetitive level design are annoying, but behind these nuisances,Devil May Cry 4 is an intriguing, though familiar step in the right direction. It’s not the best in the series, but Devil May Cry 4 is a great action game with plenty of style, some excellent combat, and a brand new story to fight through. Just be sure to stock up on Yellow Orbs.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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