Devil May Cry 4 Xbox 360, PS3 Review

devilmaycry4-1.jpg

Are you bored, feeling unchallenged? Older game seeks hardened gamer for long term relationship, must be open minded to the following; vast numbers of demon hordes, sodomy by said demon hordes, over the top action, irritating one dimensional characters and an in depth fighting systems that must be used to impress. Game has issues but promises SSS satisfaction to those willing to commit. Honey moon period won’t last long but game will love long time.

Facetiousness aside this is Devil May Cry’s first foray on the current generation of consoles, does it do the series’ reputation justice? Or does it fall flat on its irritating androgynous face?

Before we go into the actual review I’d like to note that the 20+ minute install time on the PS3 version of the game doesn’t seem to be beneficial in any way. The load times are the same as the 360’s, in fact both versions are pretty much identical, even down to the button layout. So it really only comes down to which controller you prefer the feel of.

So the first thing you’ll notice about Devil May Cry 4 is the new protagonist, Nero. The strange thing is however that he’s mostly a carbon copy of Dante with added teen angst. They even look the same, except one wears red and the other wears blue. But don’t worry, if you don’t like blue or angst fuelled teenagers Capcom has you covered. During the final third of the game you switch over to series main staple Dante (the red one). The only difference between the two is in the way they fight. Nero (blue boy) has a demonic arm that allows him to bring enemies towards him or perform grabs. Grabs are great for getting a few demons out of your face and when used on a boss character, causes Nero to perform a special move that look irrefutably cool. This makes the series’ hardcore combo obsessed fighting style a lot more accessible to the masses that may have been put off by the samey looking and overly complex fighting system. Long term fans will find it refreshing (to a degree); it was always a pain when you’d knock the stuffing out of a demon only to have him fall out of reach and waste valuable combo time. The problem is that Nero is a bit of a one trick pony; aside from the devil bringer he’s essentially a stripped down Dante with very few combos to pertain much interest in him. After Devil May Cry 3’s ludicrously deep combo system it feels like a step backward for the series. Until you get to play as Dante, who now has the ability to switch between four different styles on the fly, each with unique combos. It’s as daunting as it sounds when you initially make the transition but after a while you won’t want to go back to Nero’s bland palette.

devilmaycry4-2.jpg

Although the combat has for the most part been simplified to appease newcomers to the series Devil May Cry still maintains its unforgiving old school nature. You are penalised for dying, using items to prevent death, or induce it on your opponents. If you don’t care about losing points the game will dissuade you further by increasing the cost of every item you buy. Some players may feel cheated by this and it’s an unfortunate burden that comes with trying to please everybody. The hardcore on the other hand will appreciate the challenge laid before them.

Devil May Cry has always been about style, you’ll be pleased to know that this hasn’t changed. Some see hordes of demons and are overcome by the sheer brevity of the task; others see a blank canvas waiting to be painted with the blood of your enemies. It’s for these people that Devil May Cry goes from being average to excellent. Those willing to learn the nuances of the combo system and enemy movements will lose weeks to this game, all in the pursuit of style. The beauty doesn’t just lay in the art of killing however. The game looks gorgeous and runs at a relentless 60FPS, this is an amazing achievement considering the lush locales, the amount of enemies and the special effects on screen at the same time. And it doesn’t let up, not even for a second.

The bosses have been made far more memorable than in previous iterations; each one is unique and interesting to fight. It even takes a stab at Shadow Of The Colossus and God Of War by offering up possibly the biggest boss ever seen in a game, unfortunately that fight is rather disjointed and a bit of a let down. It’s also a shame then that Capcom seems intent on milking all the good bosses for all they’re worth. I’m all for bosses, I enjoy them. But I don’t enjoy fighting them over and over again. Capcom have a reputation for doing this and it’s a shame they don’t realise that it isn’t a good one.

So those looking for a great fighting experience be they newcomer or veteran are pretty much covered, but what about those looking for a fulfilling story? Well Devil May Cry has never been big on it, but Devil May Cry 3 tried to change that, not only did it give us mind blowing cut scenes that put John Woo to shame, but it gave us a cast of characters that (while pretty one dimensional) were interesting to watch. Unfortunately Devil May Cry 4 ignores any progress made by the previous installments and is riddled with terrible characters that no one will care about, ever. This wouldn’t be so bad if the cut scenes were as interesting as the previous installments, but they are bland and forgettable. Even more confusingly is the fact that there is some story here, but it is so horribly underplayed that even rabid fans can miss out on it. The only saving grace for the game in this aspect is that some people will enjoy watching Dante (and his sidekick). It’s refreshing to see a game character that just doesn’t care about acting like an arrogant over zealous fool that instead of getting things done quickly would rather take the most excessive, flamboyant method, just because it’s fun. Surely, if Solid Snake is Schindler’s List then Dante is Hard Boiled.

devilmaycry4-4.jpg

Another disappointing area is the audio, the Death Metal returns, but this time it’s nowhere near as catchy and seems to just be the same track each time. This is yet again another step backwards from Devil May Cry 3 which had multiple tracks and all were equally catchy. The majority however won’t care, since Death Metal doesn’t really suit conventional tastes. For those that don’t mind or even enjoy it, you get the pleasure of having one enjoyable track driven into the ground through repetitiveness. The voice acting on the other hand isn’t half bad, it’s let down however by the utterly terrible dialogue.

The main adventure isn’t particularly lengthy, you won’t do it in one sitting, but it is a little short lived even though you go through every level twice. Unlike other games however Devil May Cry 4 really tries to get you to replay it at a higher difficulty, rewarding you with artwork and allowing you to take over all your stats and items is greatly appreciated. It’s a shame that the bonus material has been decreased from that of the previous installment which had extra costumes, video footage and a wealth of concept art. For those of you who played through previous iterations of the series on harder difficulties for bragging rights alone, you’ll be pleased to know that good achievement and leader board implementation means your gamer card will do all the bragging for you. And if that wasn’t enough there’s even a 101 floored dungeon for you to attempt.

Devil May Cry 4 despite its best efforts is still a puritan affair. There are many flaws that will put off newcomers, but for those who can tolerate those flaws there is an addictive, enjoyable and rewarding game just waiting to be played. This isn’t so much attributed to the efforts of the hard working people at Capcom who seem to be intent on making the game worse (combat system aside), but more a testament to the excellent game design that was envisioned all those years ago. Some complain about the rubbish puzzles or the irritating jumping sections and they are right to complain, while few and far between they really deteriorate from the enjoyment. These alongside the fixed camera angles are recurring complaints throughout the series that Capcom has unceremoniously ignored. Devil May Cry 4 shows us that the old design is in need of an update, not an overhaul, just an update. All it takes is for Capcom to listen.

And for god sake stop making us fight the bosses again and again…

7/10

by

Version tested: Xbox 360, PS3

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Genre: Action Adventure