It’s been a while since I’ve had a lot of fun with a hack and slash. It’s also been a while since I’ve had fun with Devil May Cry (let’s face it, 3 was just ok, not good, ok). Now, DMC is back, but with a new protagonist. That’s right, Old Man Dante has taken a step aside to let in a new generation of Devil Hunter; one that looks almost exactly like him. However, while Nero may be a visual twin, the difference between handling these two is the difference between handling an SUV and a Lamborghini.
Yes, you heard me right, you get to play as both characters, but unlike driving an SUV (and kinda like handling a Lambo) experiencing both characters is a blast. Dante is as familiar as ever…and apparently following DMC and before DMC2 (remember: DMC3 = prequel) he has become a GOD. When you first handle him, it will be like a reunion with an old friend. But, as with all things, Dante has changed with time. Seriously, this man is beefed up and ready to destroy anything or anyone in his path. Yes, you can switch weapons on the fly still. But they added something even better; now you can switch fighting styles on the fly as well. While that may not seem like a big deal, as you begin to get accustomed to how it works, switching styles and weapons end up becoming incredibly fun. You also get some Devil Arms as Dante, the two coolest being Pandora and Lucifer. Pandora is a box with 666 different forms; in game you use about 7 of them, all of them being ridiculously powerful. Lucifer is a melee weapon that sticks exploding spikes into your opponent; it also provides Dante with the opportunity to make jokes about his male member. Either way, playing with Dante has become even better and more badass. However, the star of this show is Nero; and let me tell you, this star shines bright.
Ok, so Nero looks much cooler than depicted above (although how cool would that be if he were in Mario Galaxy?). But what sets him apart from Dante (aside from being the whiny Raiden to Dante’s badass Solid Snake) is his arm, the Devil Bringer. This demonic arm not only looks awesome, but drastically changes gameplay. In fact, how you fight with Nero and how you fight with Dante are two drastically different styles. Basic move sets are similar yes, but the Snatch ability that Nero gains early on means that you no longer have to run down enemies, you can bring them to you! Even if they are too big to pull near you (for example, the GIANT BOSSES), you can use it to pull yourself towards them. Either way, this allows you to string up massive combos in no time. Also, the devil bringer is unbelievably powerful, allowing you to punch and throw every demon in your path…EVERY DEMON. But enough about Nero, let’s touch a little bit more on the pace of the game and the visuals.
While the gameplay has experience some very refreshing changes, the story very much follows our traditional DMC formula. Boy has demonic power. Boy progressively unlocks true potential of demonic power. Boy becomes involved with some sort of girl. Boy runs into ridiculous amounts of evil spooky scarecrows. Boy pounds the crap out of giant boss demons. Boy fights other variety of lesser demons. Boy pounds the crap out of giant boss demons again. Boy finds out about greater plot to destroy/take over/both the world with even giant-er demon/person with demonic powers. Boy saves the day with ambiguous ending leading to further titles??? DMC 4 is no different, but it does this much better. The cast of characters you meet along the way has never been so good. The relationships these people have make you feel for them, both the good and the evil.
It also helps that DMC 4 sticks you in rich, colorful environments that appeal to the eye and provide great context for your battles. Also, the character models are very well polished and look great during gameplay. The only disappointment are the movie visuals. While the don’t look as good as they absolutely good be, I believe this is because they were rendered with the same graphics as the gameplay. The game is also completely voice acted, and voice acted very well. You feel the characters, and their personalities shine through their voices.
So a game with excellent gameplay, great visuals and good sound, what’s downside? Well, one of the most notable is difficulty. Overall, the game is not terribly difficult. However, there are times where you are stuck in a situation where you are entirely flooded with tons of baddies. Yeah, you can fight your way out, but it really becomes a pain when you can’t see your character because enemies are all around you on one side and a wall is in the way on the other. DMC 4 also has refused to fix a couple of it’s old problems as well. Platforming is still a huge pain and the cause of a countless number of thrown controllers and roars of anger. The camera will still choose really inconvenient ways to switch and lock into position, causing you to run back and forth in place for 4 minutes till you figure it out. Oh, and if you lose your way…good luck on finding where to go next.
Still, even with all the bad, overall Devil May Cry 4 is a spectacular game. Flawless work of art that deserves all the Best Game awards this year? Ehh…maybe not, but I would be offended if I saw it walking away with maybe one or two. Let me tell you this, as of right now, this might be the best hack and slash game out there. You should definately play it at least once, if not own it and play it multiple times. Even if you can’t buy into the story, the gameplay is worth it all.
Art Direction: Very pretty environments and great character models earn it praise. However, I would have like to see more out of the movies.
Sound Design: Fully voice acted, and done very well for that matter. The music of the game is the typical pipe organ followed with thrasher metal during combat, so nothing new and exciting there. Also, at times Nero comes off sounding like a whiny little bitch. Though, if he was meant to be one, then the voice actor got it down pat.
Gameplay: The best I’ve seen in a long time. Sure the platforming kinda stinks, but who cares when you’re playing a game known for it’s combat? It will be really hard for the DMC boys to top themselves when DMC 5 is release (you know they’re gonna make it).
Engagement: This game definately keeps you in there and wanting for more. Not only do the things you do look awesomely badass, but as you do them you feel like a badass yourself. It also helps that you can end up caring about your mission, and for the characters and their relationships. The new weapons and aspects to the combat will make you come back to see just how long you can keep that SSS rating going. This game will have you engrossed while you play it and will make you want for more. Especially more Dante. Wasn’t nearly enough Dante.
OVERALL: 4 STARS