Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Right, this has been rather a long time coming, for which I apologise, BUT here's a little post all to do with the spectacle known as Devil May Cry 4! But I've decided to change what I was going to do, as I'm such a big fan of this series, any review I give would be pretty biased, so instead of a review I'm gunna have a general rant on what I loved and liked and felt like obliterating in this game.
First off, the new boy, Nero. If I'm being honest, I actually didnt mind him in the slightest. It was brave to put Nero into the game, with Metal Gear Solid doing the same and Raiden getting a lot of hate directed at him for it, yet it works very well here, with two different perspectives of the same story being shown, making it more interesting. I enjoyed knocking about deranged scarecrows, big fire demons and old men with his meaty demonic fist, the Devil Bringer, as it brought a new element of fighting to an already excellant series. It took a bit more for me to like his gun, which i didnt feel had enough ass-kicking power to it, and it took even more to get used to him shouting out 'KYRIE!!' every time she bloody appeared, but thats being a little picky. At the very least, I didn't resent playing as him for a lot of the game, and I really enjoyed using his sword too, so that was a definite up-side!
Something I really loved in the game was the dramatic boss fights. Each one actually involved some sort of strategy instead of just a hack an' slash-fest, and they also looked visually impressive too, especially Berial, who was a mix between the Balrog from LOTR and a centaur, with a nasty-ass attitude. Some of them also were just a pure joy to fight against, like Credo. the amount of dodging you had to do, coupled with some quick attacks and counters left me wanting to re-do the whole level just to fight him again! And of course, fighting Dante was a massive highlight of the game, reminding me of the fights against Vergil in the previous installment which I felt were some of the best bits. Not to say it didn't get frustrating when Dante would land his billionth stinger move on me though!
It wasn't just the boss fights either, but some of the fights against normal demons and nasty things were pretty darn fun too! The knights were a particular favourite of mine, reminding me fondly of Nelo Angelo from the original DMC. In fact they were pretty much watered down versions of that bastard, but numerous enough to pose a challenge, especially on modes such as Son of Sparda. An enemy I'm not too fond of however is the electric demon that crops up now an then. I mean I love a good challenge on games, and I'm not complaining about that, but he was such an annoying ****er, again especially on the harder modes. You had to shoot him to weaken him enuff so you could hit him with your sword as he electrocuted you otherwise, and it didn't help that he was using his own version of the Trickster style against you. And then once you finally felt you had killed him, he can grab you and explode with you as a parting gift. I couldn't help but feel he was laughing at me when this happened, but I would perservere an carry on.
Another character in the game that stuck in my mind was Agnus, the science guy from the Order. The moment he stuttered onto the screen you instantly knew he was trouble, so it was very satisfying getting to beat him up later on. Agnus is a character I loved to hate, and everytime he appeared something big always went down, so i looked forward to him popping up, even if I did wanna ram my over-sized sword down his throat.
Of course I cant go on about a DMC game without mentioning the old hero, Dante, a little bit more. He may be a little more grizzled than previous games, but he's still got the same style and grace from before, and if anything he's even more cocky and more of a show off! At first it was strange not playing as him, but this just made his appearances even more exciting, especially the opening FMV with the big fight between Dante and Nero, which is the best opening for any DMC game so far. Once i got to play as Dante though, I instantly fell in love with him again. He brought back loving memories of DMC 3, and handles almost exactly the same as he did on DMC 3 too. He has all four styles again, Trickster, Gun Slinger, Sword Master and Royal Guard *spit* except they are even better then before, as this time you can change style mid-fight with the d-pad! This cheered me up immensly as being stuck to just one style for a level on DMC 3 was a little depressing. Weapons can also be changed mid-fight too, so you're no longer stuck with just two guns and two melee weapons for the level either.
Speaking of weapons, I also fell in love with Rebellion and Ebony and Ivory again. In my opinion they were real weapons, and fighting with them felt like pure stylish scrapping, getting in quick hits and quicker counters and always being on the move. Fighting with Dante to me was a lot more fun then fighting with Nero, mostly because you didn't have a demonic arm that could bring the enemies to you, you had to do the moving; I loved it! Felt much more satisfying. Can't say I was a big fan of many of his other weapons though. I felt that the gaunlets while powerful were too slow, the Lucifer was a little impractical, and Pandora's Box while a brilliant idea in theory wasn't a great weapon to use unless I was bored of the conventional types. I did love the shotgun though, being a fan of it in other DMC games, so i felt by law it needed to be used, and it still impressed.
I felt that Trish and Lady making returns in this game was a good thing too, and enjoyed seeing them again, especially Trish who hasn't been seen since DMC 1 way back in 2001! Wasn't too sure on Lady's new look though, but she still had the Kalina-Ann so that made up for it. I was also giddy with excitement when the swords Yamato (Vergil's sword) and Sparda cropped up, and even more happy when I got to use Yamato! Having played DMC 3 Special Edition with Vergil I grew to really like his sword and fighting style, so it was a really nice touch to be able to play with it again. Unfortunately Sparda wasn't on the menu though, and depressingly it was used against you too, but it was a very good feeling beating the guy who was using it i must say.
Visually the game is rather impressive, as it should be, and the difference between this game and other DMC games can be seen best with Dante. The detail on his face an clothes, and in his movements are astounding, and this is true of the other characters too. The best example of the visual step-up is with Berial, in all his fiery glory! Yet the backgrounds and levels you can play in, even though they were rather large and very good looking (especially the outside of Fortuna Castle and the jungle) I felt were rather sparse and in some cases a little samey. Then again there isn't always time to look at your surroundings in a game like this, and let's be honest, not many would.
Unlike certain critics (and some fans I might add) I actually enjoyed the soundtrack to the game as well, feeling that the hardcore metal and rock vibes are what gave the game a much more edgy and energetic feel when pounding the crap out of some demons who deserve it, and if that was changed or taken away then it just wouldn't feel like DMC anymore. I personally prefer Nero's background fighting music to Dante's myself, and enjoyed the music during the credits too, coincidentally them being the same.
Overall I feel this game is a very strong jewel in Devil May Cry's impressive crown, and I really enjoyed playing this game, and still do. Instead of carrying on talking about it, I instead suggest that you play it for youself, if you havent done already, and I recommend this to anyone who enjoys stylish action games even just a little, because I assure you that everyone will find at least one thing they like in this game. In fact, going against what I said at the beginning of this post, I feel that if I did pass a review on this game, it'd be 9/10, being as un-biased as I can be, just because the enjoyment from this game was so much, even being new to the series I'd think it was this good.
As a parting gift, here's a link leading to a video containing the main DMC 4 song, with a lot of game art, promotional pictures and screen shots playing in the background. Enjoy!