The first Devil May Cry was one of the standout titles in the action genre last generation, and while the inevitable sequels moved millions of units, they failed to better the original - and by the third game, Capcom had increased the difficulty to a level that turned away all but the most hardcore. Devil May Cry 4 shows a decided effort to cater for a wider audience - it’s the first game of the series to grace Microsoft hardware, and newcomers can select the Human difficulty level and a new Automatic mode to turn their button mashing into elaborate and deadly combos.
The first thing you will experience is a 20 minute installation. The cons of mandatory installations are outside the scope of this review, however the pros are made clear once you start progressing through the levels - at no stage of the game will you be watching a loading screen more than a few seconds. Capcom claims “near Super Nintendo” loading times, but that’s a big stretch - it’s quick (often under two seconds) but not that quick.
The second thing you will experience is the new protagonist, Nero. Nero and his devil-possessed arm (the Devil Bringer) make one truly awesome character to control. The Devil Bringer allows you to do all kinds of cool stuff - grab enemies from the other side of the room, slam them into the ground and perform awesome finishing moves. After you complete level 12, Dante (the protagonist of the first three Devil May Cry games) returns for another six levels with a different, equally deep combat system - although you’re backtracking over the exact path that Nero just took through the game.
Devil May Cry 4 features one of the best combat engines ever made. It’s almost entirely offensive, fluid and incredibly responsive. There’s a massive amount of moves to unlock by collecting “souls”, and at any time you can cash in your upgrades (for exactly what you paid) which enables you to experiment without being punished or locked in to your choices.
While the graphics of Lost Planet on the PS3 failed to impress, Capcom have managed to create one of the best looking games on the system, running at 60 frames per second - no mean feat for a cross-platform title. The characters are well detailed and convincingly animated, and the gothic architecture and jungle environments look fantastic. The chink in the armor is the shadowing technique Capcom have used - it looks straight out of a PlayStation 2 game.
The Bad Stuff
- The pacing - it’s erratic stuff - now you’re fighting, now you’re not, now you’re lost and looking around for five minutes.
- The camera - The sometimes-free sometimes-locked camera setup is mostly-annoying.
- Repetition - you’ll fight some of the bosses three times, go forwards and backwards through the levels, and need to repeat earlier levels to get the orbs (currency) and souls (upgrades) you’ll need to tackle the last stages.
- The shit levels - the puzzle on level four sucked, navigating the forest was a nightmare, and fighting five bosses on level 19 was ridiculous.
The Short Answer
It’s a gorgeous game that every gamer should experience, if only for the brilliant combat at 60 fps. The only thing seriously holding Devil May Cry 4 back from being a must-buy title is the replayability - after I beat the insanely difficult last boss and the game went back on the shelf, I had no desire to play it again, although Hardcore completionists and Devil May Cry fanboys will obviously feel differently.