Brushing the dirt off my knees as I regain my feet, I realize that giving my opinion on the demo of a game is something that people hate, and will be shot down faster than a pigeon flying over a hunting lodge. So, I licked my wounds while I waited for the final product to come out: Here's my personal opinions on Devil May Cry 4.
The Devil May Cry series has been known for its intense action, over-the-top cutscenes, and a snarky main character. Things do not change in Devil May Cry 4, except that instead of A snarky main character, we get two snarky main characters. The first thing that you'll hear out of the gaping hole of stupidity that is a fanboy's mouth, is that this Nero fellow is taking Dante's spotlight. Nero is almost a mirror image of Dante; down to the white hair that is so commonly associated with the dreams of 14-something old girls who read too much manga. Both spout clever one liners as they plunge their pointy things deep into the coloured insides of various demons that inhabit the world of Devil May Cry.
Personally, I liked Nero; both for his gameplay, and his character. Nero takes on the same cocky attitude that Dante does, but with a "wet behind the ears" feeling to him. The thing is, that instead of just being some spectral bounty hunter in the same vein as Hoss Delgado; he plays a character more like Mario. He's off to save his princess, he'll cut any demon down that stands, hobbles, shambles, or flies in his way. The voice actor is nothing short of great. I never knew that the Black Ranger could express emotions so well, and the cracking screams that seem to pop up when his girlfriend is in trouble are done magnificently.
Regarding his gameplay, he is much more simplistic than the other protagonist. He doesn't receive any extra weapons or playing styles. He is armed with a nifty sword, a double barrelled revolver, and a mutated arm that is dubiously called the Devil Bringer; that's it. The sword can be revved up for more powerful attacks, which livens up gameplay. Instant revving is also a little perk in combat; where you rev up one entire bar after an attack, and gives Nero just a tiny more depth. The pistol is self-explanatory, and the Devil Bringer warrants its own discussion.
The Devil Bringer was my favourite part of the game. It allows flowing, seamless combos and also can be used for deadly damage. For example: In one portion of the game, I was assailed by a ragtag bunch of what I'll assume were young jesters that had everything to prove. After catching two in a flurry of slashes that ended with them skidding across the floor; I pulled one back with my special arm, uppercutted it, split it down the middle, and finished the ordeal by picking it up, and creating a clown face shaped impression in the concrete. It's all very visceral and oh so satisfying. At one point, you pummel a very frail looking man with a fury of body blows, and ended it with a skull-shattering blow that would make Captain Falcon proud. You can even counter attacks with it, and it's used to engage in a little platforming. The Devil Bringer is a great addition to the game.
The platforming imitation that takes place at one point or another is more annoying than fun. The Devil Bringer seems to pull you to seemingly random directions. I find myself pulled straight one time, then the next time I'm shot off to the left of the platform and I have to start over again. It feels like a tapdancing rhino. Clumsy. These grapple sections and lame gameboard parts seem shoehorned in to break up the action. The boardgames were the worst idea that they could have come up with. Near the end, you literally end up going in a circle fighting groups of enemies, one after the other until you get lucky and roll the right number. I think that the action should be broken up, but in a better way. I don't know what way, but I'm not paid tons of money to come up with ideas for multimillion dollar games. I need time to put my face back on after it has been rocked off, but please put it together in a way that doesn't induce thoughts of putting my fist through the television.
Dante is the same old Dante; he's still a smarmy badass. Which is good. His portion of the game takes place about fifty-five percent throughout the game, and it plays like classic Devil May Cry. Weapon switching on the fly and words like "Blast off!" and "Break down!" thrown in. However, a new mechanic has been added where you can switch between the different styles that were available in the previous instalments in the dee-em-see series. Namely; Sword Master, Gunslinger, Trickster, and Royal Guard. They're all pretty easy to understand, and the transitions between the styles are almost seamless. If not for the colour explosion, I would never know that instead of doing a little dash, like I intended, I would be doing a sword spin. Each style has its own playing styles, but they can be blended together effortlessly; almost. Reaching for the control pad can be frustrating at times and it seems too easy to get the wrong style when you reach for it in the middle of a combo. In a game like Devil May Cry, where mistakes are punished with the business end of the game's foot to your balls, this is a bad thing. It's not gamebreakingly bad, or anything near it, but it's still a pain.
Dante's portion of the game is very short. We're talking gnome-hammered-down-with-a-mallet short. Lasting only a few missions, you have to wonder if Dante was anything more than fan service. His part in this demon infested opera are recycled from Nero's and are reversed to give the illusion of something new. The same bosses rear the ugly head and are beat down again. It just gets a bit boring. This boredom doesn't last very long as a result of it being so short, but it's still three or four missions of boredom. Speaking of reused scenery, the level progression leaves you shaking your head. The town you start in is a simple port town where everyone wears hoods to mask Capcom's laziness. It's sunny here. You move through a series of mining tunnels and this makes a little sense. Once you get out of a thirty second tunnel, it's night out. Whatever, I can accept this still. You move through another short tunnel and it's now a frigid place with a giant Scooby-Doo castle to complete the scenery. There's a howling blizzard that's chalked up to the demons residing here just being a bunch of pricks. You move from here to another short tunnel that dumps you out into a lush, tropical forest. This is supposedly the result of the residential demon; again. This would make sense in the game's world, if it weren't for the fact that once all demons are dead, the areas remain the same. This is stupid, but something that could be easily ignored.
As far as stupid things go, I'll pick on the story. It's better than what I expected, but you just can't feel that it could be real, even if demons ran rampant like wild rabbits. There's a lot of drama concerning Nero's disfigured arm, and how he has demonic power. Since he's part of an organization that frowns on this sort of thing, there's sure to be some drama when they discover this. He keeps his arm in a sling for the first part of the game, but once he takes it off, how does no one notice the bright, blue, glowing hand? He covers most of his arm with his coat sleeve, but there's still a giant demon beacon poking out the bottom. Yet, everyone is oblivious. A lot of events seem to be scripted for dramatic reasons. Instead of dealing with logic, Capcom just made them all flashy and stylish.
Which is fine with me.
Another stupid thing is the game's camera. Often it attempts to present the most cinematic view to the player, but sometimes I don't want that. Sometimes, the camera is fixed, and I absolutely hate that. It also zigs and zags in certain areas so that walking down a hallway becomes something of a game to guess when the camera will shift to another position and you guess which direction will now be straight, so you don't run into a wall. It's a minor complaint, it rarely gets in the way of actual gameplay, and correcting the direction you're running only takes a fraction of a second. It isn't even close to shaming the game or making it an unenjoyable experience.
Penned in rooms are also stupid. A lot of enemy encounters take place in rooms sealed off by a red spiderweb thing that prevents you from leaving until every baddie in the area is pushing up daisies. This is actually not that noticeable for those who enjoy the combat; which should be everyone. I found that I wanted to kill everything I came across while saying the name of those I hate under my breath; venting my rage, and ignoring the fact that it was mandatory. This is standard Devil May Cry stuff, so not that big of a surprise. It's a very, very minuscule complaint.
I haven't really said much about the difficulty in this game, but I feel like I have to with all the *****ing that was done on my part, and millions of others when the series difficulty resembled a roller coaster, going from mildly hard, to piss easy, then skyrocketing to nigh impossible. While Devil May Cry 4 won't tear into your room, punch you in the face, and then rumble away to knock over your expensive doo-dads and stomp on your children's colons; like the third dee-em-see did, it does get a bit challenging later on in the normal setting. You start with easy and normal, or what Devil May Cry dresses up normal and hard and calls them. After the Devil Hunter setting, you get Son of Sparda, which is actually hard. Enemies do lots of damage, vary up their patterns, and launch counter-offensive and defensive measures against your hellish onslaught. I haven't beat this mode yet, but if the infamous Dante Must Die difficulty is anything like the last one's, it'll be a *****. Not the sort of ***** that doesn't want to go to the cool, new restaurant that opened up; instantly spoiling everyone's fun, but the kind of ***** that burns down your house and murders your dog with a shovel because you broke up with her. In other words, I think that it will be adequate to suit all of the hardcore dee-em-see veterans out there.
Repetition is something that Devil May Cry strives for, or so I would like to think. If it wasn't intentional, that means that Capcom actually thought that playing the same hardcore metal every single fight was a good idea. Coupled with fighting a good portion of the bosses three times, repetition seems to be the word of the day. I like the Goth theme, I really do. It leads to fantastic art direction and some beautiful, towering cathedrals, but the hardcore rock is something I've disagreed on more than once. Most fights last only a minute or less, so you hear the same portion of the same piece of music over, and over, and over again. It's annoying. I eventually plugged my MP3 player into my Xbox and played some Journey(Which oddly fit the mood at one point).
The extras that are unlocked are a let-down. I get a picture for beating the game, and a gallery of CG characters. While I enjoy looking at the character models, which I spent the entire last two runs through the game looking at, I expect something better. I hear later you get something that actually affects gameplay, but I don't want to have to play through the game four times to get it. This feels like nitpicking though.
On the whole, Devil May Cry 4 is a lot of fun. Crazy action and dialogue puts a smile on my face and the stylish, combo-based gameplay is still as fun as it always has been. The difficulty has been tuned just right for those who don't like to have blisters on their balls when they finish playing, and the new characters aren't all bad. Minor annoyances pile up, but don't actually break the experience. I'm not going to assign it a numerical value, because I think that's stupid. I'll just say that it's a great game, demanding a rental, crossing halfway into buying territory.
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