Devil May Cry 4
Devil May Cry has been going along for some time already in the world of games. The series is about the halfblood Dante (son of the demon Sparda and a human woman), who with a coolness that even Bruce Willis can learn of, sends all kinds of demon brood back to square one. Devil May Cry can be described as the videogame equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster; the story could be written by a nine-year old but the visual effects are astonishing and the action really blows you away.
Strangely enough, you don’t start Devil May Cry 4 with Dante but with Nero who, with his blonde hair, snappy oneliners and firy red Matrix jacket could pass for Dante’s identical twin brother. Luckily he also has the agility and power of his leading example. With his pistol (the “blue rose”) and sword (“red queen”) he can kick some decent ass. On top of that he’s got some sort of fluorescent grappling arm (the “devil bringer”) with which he can pull monsters towards him to than molest them from close up. Nero can also go into “exceed mode” where his sword will gain power and do more damage for a short period.
Just about halfway through the game you’ll go back the the trusted Dante who, next to double pistols (“ebony & ivory”) and a sword also has a whole arsenal of other weapons. He also has different playing styles like “swordmasters”, “trickster” or “gunslinger” which respectively bring his sword-, evasive-, and shooting skills to a higher level and make him a more versatile character than Nero. Experienced gamers will feel more confident playing with Dante but his lack of a grappler will need some getting used to again.
Devil May Cry 4 has become a lot more accessible for those not familiar with the previous games. You don’t need any knowledge to understand the story and what happened before is nicely told in the many cut-scenes. DMC4 is also far from as hard as the sometimes criminally difficult Devil May Cry 3 (my fingers are still recuperating from that one). It’s still no piece of cake but it never gets extremely hard. The game also is controlled very fluidly: Dante and Nero react without hesitation on your button combinations which avoids unnecessary frustration. As always, the game does use fixed camera views which are usually well-chosen but sometimes you do loose oversight.
As you stick your sword in more monsters or penetrate them with bullets, you collect red orbs and “proud souls”. These can be used to make Dante and Nero stronger (amongst other things by buying new moves or getting extra healing potions). These upgrades are necessary as the opposition also gets stronger. Where in the beginning you meet monsters that go down in just a few seconds, later on you’ll have to fight creatures that can bundle their forces. Devil May Cry, by the way, wouldn’t be Devil May Cry without a buttload of end bosses. Each and every one of those needs a specific approach and offers a welcome challenge. Most are gigantic and leave a truly crushing impression (one is for instance easily twenty times bigger than Dante).
Devil May Cry 4 also looks fantastic. Whether we’re talking about the design of the gothic buildings or the vast plains where you travel, the look of the often sickening creatures or the huge amount of detail in the textures of characters and surroundings, DMC4 is a visual piece of art that nicely shows what the current generation of gaming consoles is capable of.
And for the fan: the female characters are also nicely modelled, with always eyes you can get lost in, a perfect hourglass shape and a balcony that would give most of us an accute case of hernia. Qua sound things are also very much ok, thanks to the steaming heavy metal soundtrack and the great sarcastic quotes of the two main characters that will bring forth a sardonic laugh from many players.
The biggest downpoint of DMC4 is its lack of truly innovative elements. Nero may be a totally new character, in essence he doesn’t differ that much from Danta. Dante himself hasn’t changed compared to his presence in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening. His styles have – as said – remained the same and he only has received a couple of new weapons to experiment with.
It’s also too bad that Capcom, next to making the game more accessible, did so little to get rid of the problems of the series. Also now you’ll have to revisit certain locations multiple times which gives a very high feeling of deja-vu. Also there are still no checkpoints to save your game in the middle of a level so that you’re always forced to completely finish one if you don’t want to repeat entire parts during your next session.
Devil May Cry 4 is a great game for those that want pure and uncut action. The game may have its downsides (despite the heavily polished graphics there almost nothing new to the game), but you’ll love to forgive them. The fundaments of the game may be the same for quite some time, they still stand tall. And as some people tend to say: old wine tastes best.