Devil May Cry 4 Review

DMC4 follows the joint adventure of Dante, and series newcomer Nero, a knight of a holy order who worships Dante’s dead dad Sparda, as they uncover the secret intention’s behind Nero’s organization, and set out to save the world from Hell itself. It isn’t a stretch to say the narrative in DMC4 is the most mature, and well thought out story of the franchise. This is mostly due to the game’s radical focus on the new character Nero. Much like Metal Gear Solid 2, but no one near as flawed in execution, gamers will take control of Nero for the majority of the DMC4 experience as opposed to series veteran Dante.

This game is Nero’s story, and when compared to the insane and cocky Dante, feels like a much needed breath of fresh air. Even though Nero is overly emotional, and has some predictable one liners, he is a character we can all relate to. Personally, I haven’t enjoyed watching a character on screen this much since the days of Final Fantasy VII with Cloud Strife and more recent Advent Children. While he lacks the complexity of Cloud, Nero stands toe-to-toe in both design, and skill with a sword. Capcom should be applauded for creating such an awesome new face to the franchise.

Where Nero really shines is in his combat system. While stuck with one style, and lacking the arsenal of weapons of Dante, one would think Nero could be dismissed as a dumbed down version of the veteran demon hunter. In reality, Nero has turned out to be a much more complex character to handle, much in part to the his destructive Devil Bringer, and clutch timing InstaRev. Nero’s right arm has taken the form of a demon, and given him a plethora of new abilities fans will quickly learn to love. The best of these is Nero’s ability to grab opponents and rip them into melee range. Suddenly, the battlegrounds become smaller and chaining impressive combos up to ranks of Smoking Style are possible. Equally impressive is the Devil Bringer’s ability to throw enemies. Whether it is slamming demons into the ground, impaling hell angels, or literally air juggling bosses five times the size of Nero the results are impressive, and immensely satisfying. In later battles the animations become so complex against bosses that the God of War 3 team may want to start taking notes. They are that good.

Along with the Devil Bringer, Nero also has access to InstantRev. By pressing the L2 button after a strike has landed, but before the animation has ceased, Nero can charge up his sword to unleash flame enhanced versions of whichever attack he chooses to use next. Attacks do more damage, and look ten times as badass when compared to Nero’s normal moves. The timing is precise, but the payoff is worth learning the difficult system. Those not quick enough to pick up on the timing though will be happy to hear that an easier Automatic mode is available. By widening the window when one can activate InstantRev, and making the timing for combos more forgiving a novice player can look very impressive on screen.

It should be noted though that with Automatic turned on, the game may activate combos out of one’s control. While I only experienced this once, and it was only during a boss fight, it does take away slightly from the experience of Automatic. My advice? Beat the game once without Automatic, learn the ropes of the combat system. If you’re still struggling after ten hours go ahead and give Automatic a spin. By playing without help, you’ll be less likely to button mashing and really get the most out of combat. It should be noted though, if you want to be considered a legitimate DMC fan and actually gain skill with InstantRev timing, Automatic should be avoided.

Dante is a predictably different gameplay experience once gamers get a hold of him. From the outset Dante comes equipped with all four of his playstyles from DMC3, his twin pistols, sawed off shotgun, and ability to activate the Devil Trigger. The wealth of options comes at the gamer as an information overload. It will take a good hour or so to become accustomed to Dante’s fighting styles, and his lack of InstantRev or Devil Bringer. This is probably the biggest problem with playing as Dante. Where Nero lacked all the options of Dante, Dante feels like he lacks the skill of Nero. By keeping Nero’s abilities simple yet deep it is very manageable to handle him, and appreciate the intricate combat system. Dante, on the other hand, has so many ways of dealing with enemies that it becomes cumbersome to switch between styles, guns, and weapons in order to keep an impressive combo going. I’m not saying Dante isn’t fun to play; far from it. It’s just when he is compared to Nero, Dante isn’t as rewarding. Nero and his combat system are the star of this game even though Dante comes loaded to the teeth with options.

The other strike against Dante is the world he gets to experience in DMC4, which brings up the other flaw in the game: level design. Past DMC games have never been known to allow the player to explore the world. It is a very linear experience and DMC4 is no different. The game does try to mix up traversing the locals by including basic platforming, puzzle solving, and grappling sequences (Nero only), but it isn’t enough to break the confined feeling which permeates each local. How this affects Dante is once gamers get control of him they will backtrack through the entire game, bosses included. While the paths from which gamers travel from Point A to Point B may be different, don’t expect Dante to visit a single new local except for one or two different portions of a level which last a grand total of five minutes combined. The result is DMC4 feels much smaller than it needs to, and Capcom comes off looking lazy. This is unfortunate since real effort was put into every other aspect of DMC4. Why Capcom couldn’t have Dante visit new areas is mind boggling.

The only positive aspect about revisiting the old levels, besides fighting demons, is that they aren’t too sore on the eyes. DMC4 is a gorgeous game. Whether it is the character models, gigantic bosses, intricate particle effects system, or detailed environments DMC4 shines on almost every level. This carries over to the perfectly directed cutscenes that some action directors may want to study before they consider filming their next movie. If all movies were shot like this the movie industry would be in a lot better shape. The voice acting is some of the best of the series despite the instances of cringe worthy dialogue. Overall the sound design is great. Attacks sound meaty, guns rip with impressive base, bosses intimidate with ear bleeding taunts, and the music is just as over-the-top-terrible metal rock as ever. It’s everything one would expect from a next-gen graphics and sound presentation so there shouldn’t be any surprise to its quality.

But as with any game, no matter how gorgeous it looks, repeating the same adventure subsequent times can get tiresome. Addressing this issue DMC4 has a plethora of unlockables for gamers to earn and encourages multiple playthroughs in order to max out both Nero’s and Dante’s abilities. Yes, Nero and Dante retain whatever skills purchased from previous completions, making the more challenging difficulties a more manageable task from the offset as well as the challenging Blood Palace mode. On the topic of difficulties, hardcore players better be ready to have their best game on, since DMC4 has an additional difficulty level beyond the sadistically hard Dante Must Die mode. Get ready for some finger bleeding encounters. Only DMC masters need apply.

Overall, Devil May Cry 4 has ripped the title of best action combat game from Ninja Gaiden. Where past iterations of the DMC franchise have faltered, the potential was always there. DMC4 finally delivers on what loyal Capcom fans have seen through all the years. By introducing a new character with a timing based combat system, making even novice players feel badass, while at the same time catering to the hardcore crowd with harder difficulties, Capcom has opened up the Devil May Cry franchise to a whole new generation of gamers. Whether on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 no one can go wrong picking up this title. While the level design is lazy the second half of the game — and some dialogue is cheesy — the amazing combat system wrapped up in a next-gen presentation few games have met makes Devil May Cry 4 a must buy for action hack and slash fans as well as twitch gamers alike.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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