Devil May Cry 4 Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The Devil May Cry series has been predominantly aimed at the more adept of gamers, requiring quick reflexes as well as general skill to see each game through to the end. DMC2 was the sole game of the three to deviate from this path, but was all too easy (at least on the default level of difficulty) for those who had managed to brave and conquer the first game. However the first new generation entry of the series, Devil May Cry 4, is actually both.

The popular and wisecracking Dante has been ousted from his position of lead demon slayer (which is to say lead character) and has been replaced by the younger Nero, who may have his differences, but also has much in common with the charismatic Dante. Both have white hair, both wear coats, albeit of different colours, and both are always ready to sling one liners at their enemies. Their similarities even extend to their choice of weapons, for both possess swords and guns. It’s almost as if Capcom were worried about creating a dramatically different character that perhaps people wouldn’t take to in the same way that they did Dante or, then again maybe they just didn’t want a Raiden-esque situation on their hands.

Nero is a member of a cult that worships Dante’s demon father, Sparda, and for reasons not detailed until later on in the game, Dante makes an early appearance and kills Nero’s leader. This is followed by a tutorial where you battle him, interspersed with some fancy cut scenes that sees the two facing off with one another. Fantastic chorography and DMC’s typical cheesiness makes this, and many of the other hands off scenes, a juvenile joy to witness.

If you’re wondering, Nero has his similarities to Dante from a gameplay perspective, but overall is very different to take charge of. He has just the one handgun (the Bluerose) as opposed to Dante’s two. He also possesses a sword, the Red Queen, which can be revved up in the manner of a motorbike to score additional damage, furthermore he eventually can (mild spoiler warning) transform into a demon, just as Dante can. Something unique to Nero though is his arm the “Devil Bringer”, which can be extended to pull enemies towards him, or indeed him towards them, opening up some satisfying combo opportunities and with it he can even wonderfully throw and grapple his opponents.

It’s hardly a secret that you take control of Dante just after the halfway mark and doing so can be a shock to the system (yours, not the 360 or PS3) as he has not only more weapons than Nero, but he also retains his styles from DMC3, which here can be shifted between at will, allowing many possibilities for stylish combinations, much more so than the more accessible Nero. It’s certainly a very nice balance of hardcore and casual gaming.

However satisfying he is to take control of, Dante’s half is the epitome of laziness. All his stages are areas you previously traversed with Nero (albeit reversed) and the bosses you‘ll face will likewise be familiar faces (that didn‘t seem to get the message, when you beat them up as Nero, and the stupid fools even show up yet again late in the game) which is unexciting to say the least and does give you the sense that he was just implemented into the game solely to appease the series fans (likewise for previous heroines, Trish and Lady, who sadly aren’t playable) and as padding to somewhat artificially extend the length of the game. But it’s testament to how different the two characters are to one another that it still never becomes boring to play. I’m of course not saying that it’s ok for developers to be so ludicrously lazy, but it so easily could have been much worse than the end result.

That aside, as always you’ll be doing some good old fashioned exploration and puzzle solving (which typically for the series, involves whacking things with your sword), by defeating enemies you’ll receive orbs to upgrade or purchase some healing items with, and at the conclusion of each mission you’ll acquire “proud souls” (the amount of which is determined by your mission performance) with which you can purchase new (and almost certainly OTT) manoeuvres with. So all in all, DMC4 is very much a DMC game then.

The bosses are certainly worthy of a mention as they’re perhaps some of the most memorable encounters in the entire medium and will reward you with some of the most beautiful graphical flourishes in the game, which is very kind of them. It wouldn’t be nice of me to spoil them for you, but suffice to say, many of them are huge and with Nero, you get some beautifully brutal throws to take a huge chunk out of their monstrously large health bars.

With its ranks and many difficulty levels, DMC4 is vast in its replay value. Similarly to the Halo series, the difficulties are almost like different games as on the harder modes for example, some of the tougher enemies will show their ugly faces earlier and many of them will even have some extra hurt inducing attacks. There’s also the “bloody palace” mode, a great extra, especially for those who enjoy the fighting system, but can do without the puzzles and wandering about business of the main game.

Devil May Cry 4 is merely a shinier HD version of the previous games, so thus is unlikely to win over any series naysayer. But for fans of the series it’s a real tasty treat, and for reasons explained earlier, it’s also a very good entry point for DMC newcomers. If only it had been without its frustrating laziness it could have been even more of a satisfying instalment of what is a consistently good series, yes DMC2 included, so there!