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Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition PC Review

Capcom seems to be on a remaster role lately; the company paid lip service to longtime fans with the HD re-release of the Resident Evil remake, which was previously exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube. One record-breaking sales success later, and Capcom soon declared that HD re-releases would be a top priority, with the planned re-release of Resident Evil 0.

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Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition may appear to be following Capcom’s latest trend, but in truth this re-release is an attempt at damage control over the failed reboot of their Devil May Cry franchise. While DmC: Devil May Cry was praised by critics and gamers alike, the majority of longtime fans were less than enthused and twice as vocal over the alleged “bastardization” of Dante and company. Thus, Capcom has decided to take their last Devil May Cry game to receive widespread praise and repurpose it with new content in an attempt to gain back some goodwill.

Originally an early generation PS3/360 game, Devil May Cry 4 featured a new protagonist named Nero, a young man with a cursed arm that imbues him with demonic power, a fact that he tries to hide from his fellow clergymen and his love interest Kirie. After a sudden attack by former series mainstay Dante, Nero reveals his hidden powers to fend off against Dante’s enigmatic and antagonistic attacks, and is tasked with seeking out the wanted demon hunter while uncovering the dark truth about his order (what do you expect, it’s a religious group in a videogame).

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At first glance, very little seems changed from the original game, which already saw a competent PC port with higher resolutions from its console release. The level design and enemies are all unchanged from the original game, with Nero’s campaign (which then switches over to Dante’s halfway through) featuring no new additions or tweaks. The real draw for the Special Edition is the addition of three new playable characters: Dante’s brother Vergil, his girlfriend Trish, and his lady friend…Lady. This may not seem like a big deal for anyone unfamiliar with the series, but for longtime fans it means the return of some favorite characters that each possess an assortment of movesets and combos, instantly resulting in hours of new content in order to learn the new leads inside and out.

Vergil remains the most anticipated character to be making a return appearance, especially after his divisive portrayal in DmC. The calm and collected Anime stereotype begins his journey decades before the events of DMC4, a convenient time period considering his fate in DMC3 (which was actually a prequel to all the other games); those hoping for more stylish cutscenes showing off Vergil’s samurai skillset may be disappointed to know that the majority of his campaign merely has him going through the same areas and bosses as Nero’s campaign, only without any real context or exposition. Fortunately, his moveset is cool enough that players can create their own action sequences. Taking cues from both Devil May Cry 3 and DmC, Vergil’s attacks consist of spinning swords, a samurai blade, Dante’s signature weapon, a pair of gauntlets and a teleport which can dodge as well as close the distance on targeted foes. Also exclusive to Vergil is the Concentration meter, which deals more damage the higher it rises.

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Rounding out the remaining new characters are Trish and Lady, who share a campaign the same way Nero and Dante do. Lady begins the campaign possessing long-range weaponry, including handguns, a shotgun, a rocket launcher and grenades; what she lacks in combo potential, she makes up for with damaging attacks. Trish is the polar opposite, a combo-heavy fiend who can trap enemies with electric snares and other attacks that do continuous damage. Add Dante and Nero to the mix and you’ve got the most character-heavy Devil May Cry title yet, with a variety of choices that should please any action game fan.

It’s just too bad that the developers couldn’t put this much variety into the enemy and level design; no matter which character you choose, the layout is the same for every campaign. This is especially unfortunate given the dated design of each area, where enemies can be obscured by camera angles, the platforming segments are tedious and unwieldy, and fetch quests for keys and other required items really pad out the length of each level.

Fortunately, the enemies still hold up in both cool factor and challenge. For an extra amount of insanity, the Legendary Dark Knight difficulty stuff each area with a Dynasty Warriors-level of enemy forces that require tireless button mashing and a lot of camera fussing just to make your character visible. Add in the option for Turbo Mode (which increases the speed by 20%) and you’ll soon learn that this old dog still has a few new tricks and a really sharp bite.

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Though not as expansive enough to call it a true special edition, Devil May Cry 4 features a lot of fan-favorite additions and an attractive price that makes it well worth double-dipping (or triple-dipping if you originally started on console and moved to PC). If nothing else, it proves that Capcom still has people that can deliver a high-octane action game that won so many people over with the first Devil May Cry, and will no doubt continue to have fans begging for a (true) fifth game.

8 out of 10