Devil May Cry 4
Game title: Devil May Cry 4
Platform: Playstation 3 & X-Box 360
ESRB Rating: Mature
Release date: February 6, 2008
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Devil May Cry is a series that has gathered up a fanatical following of the truly hardcore that play it religiously much like the Zelda series. Playing the first game would certainly give people an idea as to why that is. When it was new, there was nothing else like it. It was an action game that moved at breakneck speed. It was certainly faster than any other game on the market at the time.It's sword swinging gameplay was unlike anything anyone had played before, and it's bad attitude and gothic atmosphere really helped with getting into the world. It's style has been copied by other games such as God of War and, quite possibly, even surpassed. The problem with such a fanatical following is that if you change anything, fans cry murder, such was the case with Devil May Cry 2 with it's new character, it's emphasis on gun slinging instead of sword swinging and it's change of enviroments, and, to a lesser extent, Devil May Cry 3 with it's absolutely absurd difficulty. The fourth installment in the series promised a return to form with lessened difficulty and the same very in depth fighting style that the fans expect from the game. With the game moving into the next generation, however, is this a good thing?
Gameplay - 7.5
Let me start off by saying that I am not a Devil May Cry fanatic. I don't run through the games again and again trying to get the S rank on every level like many of the series fans do. The rediculous difficulty of the third game in the series ultimately drove me to stop playing it, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the combat. The bosses in the game started off hard with Cerberus and just continually got harder and harder to the point where I just said "This is absurd" and quit. With that in mind, I hope to provide a bit of an outsiders view on the game. With the series moving to the next gen, I was a bit afraid that, because of the fanatical hardcore fanbase, the gameplay would not follow suit. I was right.
Allow me to explain. There are alot of things to like about Devil May Cry 4. Everything that I liked about the previous games is still there, and it is all considerably less difficult without sacreficing any of the depth and strategy involved in any of the previous game. The battle system is as fast paced and as frantic as it ever was, and there is still alot of depth with various combos that you can learn and pull off. It isn't just button mashing and merely button mashing will not get you through the game on it's standard difficulty. At the same time, it feels like, aside from a couple of minor tweaks (that are nice by the way) the developers did nothing to bring the combat into the next gen. As a direct result of that, the gameplay feels dated. It's fun and satisfying for the most part, but it cannot escape the 'been there and done that' feel.'
In Devil May Cry 4, there are two characters that you will play as. You start off the game playing as Nero who has a sword called the Red Queen. This sword has a small gas powered engine attached to it that you can rev up to strengthen up to 3 blows in a row. This is a cool feature and is quite useful. As usual, you have your sword and your gun. Nero only has one sword and one gun that he uses throughout the game. Unlike Dante, the other character and primary character throughout the series, he does not have a choice between multiple weapon types. It's not really a problem, though, because the Red Queen is a badass sword anyway. The y button is used to have him swing the sword with the right shoulder being used for lockon and the left trigger being used to rev his sword up. The x button is used to fire his weapon, the Blue Rose, which is a large revolver. It can be charged up for a few seconds for a more powerful shot, but, of course, that means a slower rate of fire. In typical Devil May Cry fasion, you can do a large number of combos with your sword and your gun that it pays off to learn atleast some of them over the course of the game. The a button is used to jump as well as examine objects.
Nero has one other weapon at his disposal, and it winds up being the most useful weapon in the entire game. His right arm is called the Devil Bringer. You have no idea just how useful his arm is in combat until you use it for yourself. It's one of those things where, once you get used to it, you have to wonder how you ever lived without it. I won't lie. The Devil Bringer is extremely cool. Nero can throw his right arm out and extend it to reach enemies that were previously out of reach and draw them to him. This is what he does with it if you are currently locked onto the enemy and you hit the designated b button. This is an extremely useful tool in combat. It brings the enemies to you, instead of you going to them. It makes combat both easier and quicker. That is not it's only use, however. If you are not using the lock on feature, Nero will do some sort of super move on most non boss enemies with it. For instance, there is one enemy that he grabs, spins them around like they weigh nothing, slamming them into the ground repeatedly and anything else unlucky enough to be in the way before he tosses them away from him to come crashing hard into the ground. It is both brutal and badass. IT is almost as much fun to watch as it is to do. This is what makes it DMC4's most useful tool. The problem is, however, that even with the addition of the Devil Bringer, combat with Nero is, for the most part, the exact same as it always has been with Dante. He controls the same. He feels the same. He even LOOKS the same.
About half way through the game, player control switches over to the main character Dante. This, alone presents one of the games biggest gameplay problems. When you switch to Dante, you don't go through another part of the game. You go back all the way you just came to where the game started and fight most of the same bosses. IT is still fun, but this is just poor game design at it's best. It makes it feel repetitive. You are doing everything all over again, except backwards. Dante, for the most part, controls exactly like Nero does. Y to swing his sword. B to shoot. A to examine and jump. The difference here is, although he cannot rev his sword, his attacks deal out a bit more damage than Neros do. Instead of the Devil Bringer, he has the ability to switch between the same four fighting styles that were used in Devil May Cry 3, which are Gunslinger, Sword Master, Trickster and Royal Guard. I used Sword Master for when I wasn't fighting bosses and Trickster for when I was. You can switch styles on the fly with the directional pad, which is cool, but it doesn't really add much to the game. I only switched styles before boss fights anyway. The b button does different things for the different styles. For Sword Master, it performs a special sword attack that is quite powerful. In Trickster, it performs a dodge move, and so on. The combat for Dante is tweaked even less than it was for Nero. It is, basically, the exact same thing as DMC3 with the ability to switch styles on the fly. That is the only difference. While the combat is satisfying for the most part, the fact that it doesn't really do anything new is disappointing.
Graphics - 9
Devil May Cry 4 is not the best looking game on the market. It never was. No fan of the series, however, will be disappointed. The game does look great, as is expected from these games. They always have and, probably, always will. The character models are rich in detail. The sword swinging animation is as slick as it ever was, but don't come here expecting Uncharted. That level of realism won't be found, though there is alot to like about DMC4 in the graphical department. Everything is high in detail, and it all gleams with the level of polish that fans of the series have come to expect. You can tell that, in many ways, these games are a labor of love for the staff that creates them. They spent about 3 years developing this game, and it does show. It is not 'uber-realistic' but it was not meant to be.
One of the bright spots of Devil May Cry has always been the enemy design. The team did not slack off in this regard. The enemy design is as sharp, cool looking and as gothic as it ever was. One would expect nothing less from a world where humans and demons interact with one another (usually in violent ways) on a daily basis. Some of the classic enemies, such as the cackling ghosts that have been there since the very first game in the series, are still here in a new and redesigned form, and they are as ready as they ever were to attempt to kick your ass. Their flowing black cloaks have more life to them now than they have ever had before, and watching those cloaks get less and less thick as Nero rips the layers off with his Devil Bringer is extremely well handled when it could, easily, have looked cheap or downright stupid. There is also a variety of new enemies, such as an ice demon known as the Frost. They also look great and fit perfectly in with the world that the developers have created over the course of four games. The true spectacle, however, are the bosses, and this is evident from the very first boss fight against the fire demon Berial. His entire body, as well as his sword, is covered in flames, and the effect is very cool. When the flames go out, his back looks like it is covered in burning hot embers, another great effect.
The other thing that has always been great about the graphics in Devil May Cry are the enviroments. The enviroments have always been big, beautiful and, yes, gothic. Devil May Cry 4 is no exception, aside from the fact that many of the enviroments are even larger than the previous games, which is truly a noteworthy achievement. The enviroments in this game are beautiful. IT is a sad thing that the game does not have a first person perspective to allow you to get a better look at them. This needs to be changed, and soon. The game has a variety of indoor and outdoor enviroments ranging from the city streets to castles and even labratories, and everything is heavily detailed and fun to explore. The art style of the series holds true in every single part of the game, even when they are very different from one another. That is impressive, if you think about it. It cannot be easy to make a jungle fit well within the DMC world, but they found a way. They even fit in a good and impressive boss fight in the previously mentioned jungle.The enviroments are the highlight of a great looking game.
Sound - 8.5
If you have played Devil May Cry before, then you know exactly what to expect from the sound. You know that this game will have decent voicework for the most part, but it will feature a couple of real groan inducing moments. You also know that the background music is, mostly, going to consist of various industrial metal tracks and that there will be sword slashing sounds. Devil May Cry 4 delivers all of this. From the persective of sound, it is exactly what you expect from the series. It is nothing more and nothing less, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The sound in Devil May Cry has always been decent. The swords slashing sounds sound meaty, as they should. The different guns all have different sound, though they have always been a little weak in comparison to something like a good first person shooter. Nothing has changed here, though it doesn't really matter all that much in the first place. The industrial metal is in full force here as well.
The surround sound mix is good, and the stylistic cut scenes definitely put a 5.1 system to good use. They sound great. Hell, even the in game sound put a Dobly Digital system to good use, which is a bit harder to do. It sounds as good as Devil May Cry has ever sounded. IT is crisp and clear, though I do have a bit of a problem with the sound. As I am sure everyone who knows me is aware, I am a metal head. You would think I would be all over the DMC soundtracks, and I loved alot of the music from the first and third game. The music in this one, however, is forgettable to me. There is nothing too special about any of the industrial metal tracks here. You can't exactly expect Strapping Young Lad from a video game, but, after how good the theme from DMC3 was, I did expect better from this one. That's not to say that the music isn't good. The main theme is not a metal song, though it is quite pretty. The metal tracks, however, just aren't memorable like they were in the past. It doesn't quite stack up to the sound in 1 and 3 as a result, despite being more clear and crisp.
Story - 8.0
One thing that Devil May Cry has always been good at is telling a story. While the story has always been relatively simple and, sometimes, predictable, the DMC team at Capcom has a way with story telling that makes even that entertaining. This game opts for a more complex story than the previous games, though the same that held true for the previous games does for this one as well. It is fun to watch the story unfold and how the story is told is half the battle. This one is, most definitely, well told, and that results in it being more than the sum of it's part. Being one hundred percent honest, the story told here is nothing too special. It is a step up from previous games, but that really isn't all that hard. It is fairly easy to predict what will happen in the story, and nothing should come as a shock to anyone that plays it really. That being said, it is told in such a way that it will keep you interested right up to it's finale
Devil May Cry 4 takes place in a castle town known as Fortuna. Within this town, there is a religious cult known as the Order of the Sword that is very secretive in nature. Everyone outside of the cult is kept in the dark as to what is going on within it. They worship the legendary demon knight and father of the main character Sparda. Nero, the primary character for half the game, is a member of this cult. At the begining of the game, he is running through the streets on his way to one of their meetings, the annual Festival of the Sword. Demons have been attacking the city recently, it would seem, and Nero is the one doing the clean up work. He is taking care of the demons while on his way to this meeting. Investigations into the recent appearance of the demons were done, but nothing was found. His girlfriend, Kyrie, is singing when he arrives at the meeting. Shortly after his arrival, Dante drops in and cut down Sanctus, the leader of the cult. Has he turned evil or are things not as they seem? The cult sends Nero out to hunt down Dante and get some answers while various members tend to Sanctus' wounds.
What makes Devil May Cry 4's story cool, and what has made the previous games stories fun as well, are it's cut scenes. You can bet that, if there is a fight cut scene, it will be both well choreographed and fun to watch. That was a sure thing heading into this game for anyone that has played the previous entries in the series, and DMC4 does not slack off or let down in any way in this regard. The fight scenes in this game are great. Ontop of that, the characters are4 fairly interesting, and the cut scenes that don't involve fighting are relatively well directed. You will be sitting and watching cut scenes more than any previous entry in the series, but don't regret. You are not forced to watch excessively long cut scenes in annoying spots where you die alot, such as right before boss fights. The same style that made the previous games cut scenes great is present here, and it works again. They look and sound better than ever, thanks to the power of next gen machines, and it all helps to make the game entertaining, even when you are not playing.
Replay Value - 9
Every DMC fan knows exactly what to expect from the series. Once you beat the game, you unlock a harder difficulty. You can play through it again to try to better your skills and achieve better ranks on the missions, or you can play through it again on another difficulty. You can also collect orbs and proud souls to upgrade your characters further. Furthermore, the Bloody Palace mode from DMC2 and 3 returns here, and you have two characters to choose from when you play it. With the Devil Bringer for Nero and the fighting styles for Dante, the two characters would offer up a slightly differing experience through the Bloody Palace. All of this adds up to plenty of reasons to keep playing after you beat the game once. Ontop of that, both versions of the game offer up some form of achievements. If you are a fan of earning achievement points, then you can try to get as many of them as you can from this game as well as all that is listed above. Devil May Cry 4 definitely has alot of replay value for a game without multiplayer, and other game should learn from this series example.
Final thoughts -
Devil May Cry 4 is a bit tough to review. The game is fun. It definitely does everything that I like about the series, and it does it all very well. The combat is as in depth and as engaging as it ever was. The story is fun to watch and the fight choreography is great, all allowing for an awesome gaming experience. The additions of the Devil Bringer and being able to switch styles on the fly are great, and they help to revamp the gameplay. The problem is that they don't do enough to the gameplay to make it feel like it has made the jump to the next gen. This game feels like Devil May Cry 3 without the extreme difficulty, though the challenge is still there. That part was a bit disappointing to me. I was expecting a bit more of a jump than just the graphics, but that is all the series offered up with it's first next gen game. Furthermore, the game feels a bit repetitive because you go through it as Nero and go through it again, backwards, as Dante. It is not a bad game. In fact, it is a very good game. IT is well worth a pick up if you are a fan of action titles, but don't expect anything new or truly next gen from it. You will be disappointed.
Gameplay - 7.5
Everything that is great about Devil May Cry is here, but nothing new to bring it into the next gen
Graphics - 9
Excellent enemy designs and enviroments
Sound - 8.5
Typical DMC fair. Music is forgettable
Story - 8
Great cut scenes and fight choreography
Replay value - 9
There is a lot to keep the disc spinning after you beat it, especially for a single player game.