If you’re going to give players (particularly veterans) of a long standing series a new character and going to force them to play the first half of the game with them; you’ve got to make them good. Damn good. Smokin’ Sick Style good!
I was sceptical of Nero, and let’s face it, so were most of us; he appeared to be Dante’s ?brother? when he was first shown, and that’s exactly what we all expected?secret brother?I am your father?sibling rivalr-?.(yawwwn). But errrr?work it out.
Capcom have pulled through on this one in a genuinely awesome fashion, however; his Devil Arm allows for some awesome boss finishes and can turn even the peskiest of foes into fresh Red Rose (his sword, with a bike rev style fuel injection system!) pickings and Nero himself can easily top all this off with his own ?Streaks? (Stinger for the Dante fans), a Calibur (that’s an air Streak) or even a triple Exceed Gauge High Roller followed by a ground shattering Split. And you know what? His sword is cooler than Dante’s.
Sorry? You missed that whole last line because I lost you at Exceed Gauge? Read it again, ?cooler than Dante’s.?
One of the first new in-game systems to chug along for this instalment of the DMC series is the Exceed Gauge, which represents the fuel injection system in Nero’s sword; ?Red Rose?. The Exceed Gauge is revved to fill three bars on a whirring cog-like meter by using the LT on your controller, then you unleash bloody hell fire; you can EX- (exceed) almost any move to power it up to awesome heights ? which is wonderful for getting those higher finish times when up against the big ass bosses the game throws at you with relative frequency ? and then you can release all buttons to let rip with a multi-revolution High Roller, a heavy bounding Red Queen Combo or a massive Streak!
Not only that but you can use Proud Souls?oh yeah sorry?those words again?ahem?
Proud Souls are the best thing to happen to the Devil May Cry series in years. Now, rather than using the classic red orbs (which are still as red and crystallized and demonic and bloody as ever before) to purchase skills, you use Proud Souls earned by completing missions to purchase skills at the ?Skill Up? screen. The screen is accessible from any ? nearly useless in this game ? divinity statue you may encounter, or between missions.
The skills are all split into categories (helpfully) depending on who you play as; Nero has a larger list of skills to purchase than Dante, but Dante earns a lot of very flexible skills by you simply purchasing upgrades to his fighting styles and weapons.
Another wonderful thing about these wonderful souls, which allow you to acquire wonderful skills is that they can be refunded at any time, allowing for an easy re-spec to enable you to fill up on the expensive skills (such as Max-Act, see it for yourself) which you may not have been able to afford before. Missions can also be handily replayed to earn a substantial amount of Proud Souls for beating your mission grade (graded D through to S).
Devil May Cry 4 is set in the far away city of Fortuna, headed by an ancient and secret cult built around the worship of the Devil Lord Sparda (Dante’s father, but of course you knew that?didn’t you…). However, none of us appear to know where Fortuna is or how it fits in with the larger story, which is what appears to make the story very arbitrary and a tad unbelievable when it all boils down.
The story writing is half-decent for the rest of the game though, but still doesn’t help to constitute a motive for any sort of progress.
But it doesn’t need to; DMC4 provides plenty of action, adventure and replayability ? value, moreover ? by simply requiring you to slash up roaming demons for increasingly good grades and higher style ranking (rated D for Deadly, to SSS for Sick Smokin’ Style!).
This entry into the series still relies on the same old Devil May Cry gameplay though; style rankings, mission rankings, hordes of enemies (well?we’ll get onto that later), huge and frustrating bosses and rooms full of general sword fodder accompanied by a few toughies.
So?the ?hordes of enemies?; whilst one of the highlights of its predecessor, Devil May Cry 3, was the elevator fight (a very easy SSS style ranking) with twenty odd rather weak bottom-feeders; the comparable highlight for Devil May Cry 4 is a fight in a (rather bland, un-gory) torture chamber with about ten bottom-feeders and two toughies who are really, really easy.
I mean, the times I had to redo the elevator fight because I lost to Virgil at the top and had to start the whole mission again because I’d saved with a stupidly low amount of red orbs and no yellow ones.
Devil May Cry has now hit the next generation and deserves to be welcomed with nothing less than open arms
Devil May Cry 4 ditches this whole premise; died? OK, start again, easy-peasy fights, quick run through if you have even half an idea what you’re doing. Want yellow orbs? Just go back to level 2 and grab that one at the top of that room in that hidden alcove (nosey, nosey?) repeatedly by restarting the mission. Lovely jubbly.
Of course, there’s Devil Hunter Mode, but in all honestly it isn’t that much harder, especially not if you’ve just been out an acquired a tonne of skills and gear in Human Mode. Aside from this, completing Devil Hunter will unlock the new Son of Sparda difficulty, followed by the even harder Dante Must Die, Heaven or Hell, and even Hell or Hell.
But overall, sorry Capcom?you dropped the initial ball on this part.
The bosses also suffer from the difficulty issue; whilst being dynamic, interesting and all round impressive fights they are also very easy. This isn’t helped with the addition of Nero’s Devil Arm, as a matter of fact, which can be used to inflict astronomical amounts of damage on bosses if you corner them in the right situation. It does provide for some impressive viewing material though.
The sound on Devil May Cry 4 is a mixed bag, at best, I’m afraid. Whilst the voices are well acted and go brilliantly with the characters (Nero is just as bad-ass as Dante, and he doesn’t appear to be trying too hard either), the actual soundtrack is a bit underwhelming and barely noticeable. It’s all classic DMC stuff, random pseudo-rock techno, a bit of punk-like rock (I say ‘like’?) etc. But this is the 360, what’s to bother about? Start loading up your hard drive now if you haven’t already. This is actually one of the better games for custom soundtracks as they just seem to neatly slide in so well?anywhere!
Moving around to the obvious – and overlooked yet so far ? graphical whinge about h
ow they’re bog standard action/adventure graphics in a world dominated by shiny Unreal 3.0 powered shooters?but they’re not!
The developers have really gone to town making the outdoor areas look stunningly beautiful, with some wonderful (yet pretty static) lighting. The indoor areas are suitably grim, and water looks far better than it should do for a game which doesn’t see much of it. The particle effects are also spot on, with brilliant flames, flying sparks, floating energy releases, the absolute works. For saying that I considered that the Devil May Cry 3 graphics could have been marginally better, this is certainly more than I could have hoped for to make it up. Cheers Cappy!
Devil May Cry has now hit the next generation and deserves to be welcomed with nothing less than open arms, and despite some shortfalls in difficulty and failing to match the balls-to-the-walls action of its forefathers it should provide a good 18 to 25 hours of gameplay for the dedicated hardcore, intent on unlocking every achievement and thrashing every single inch of demonic ass. The ones of us they call humans however, should not despair, for the game also easily clocks in at 13 to 16 hours if you want to do both Human and Devil Hunter modes (perfectly achievable for even the most casual gamer),
The Bad: Perhaps too easy.; Game is lazily lengthened by Dante’s missions.; Not as all out or hectic as DMC 3.; Story seems very arbitrary.