Capcoms latest installment of the ever popular Devil May Cry series Air Hikes onto the PS3 bringing with it it's cool style and smooth moves and even a new character.
You play as Nero the new guy. Also known as 'The Kid' as Dante calls him throughout the game. ...................... ................................Nero
Neros girlfriend gets kidnapped by Demons and it's up to him to save her. The story is a rehash of almost all games involving a guy and his girlfriend. She gets taken, he must navigate treacherous terrain beating many enemies and bosses along the way until finally he comes up against the main boss and lives happily ever after with his sweetheart. Well done Capcom, thanks for making it so original. To be honest the Plot lost my attention after the first couple missions. It's unoriginal and we've seen it all before. So why are we suddenly playing as Nero instead of the ever popular and loved Dante? No idea. The reasoning behind Neros sudden appearance is never addressed throughout the game. Think of Nero as Raiden from MGS2 only not a pansy.
Dante isn't ignored though. He is still present and he does play a big part in the game. He almost acts as Neros mentor even though he isn't. In the beginning Dante is your sparring partner during the Tutorials and near the end Dante keeps referring to Nero as The Kid suggesting that Dante is superior to Nero. There are 20 missions and 7 of those are played with Dante and the rest are played with Nero.
So what's new in DMC4?? Well apart from a new character and some new weapons very little has changed from DMC3. The gameplay is the exact same, the annoying camera angles are still present and bosses are still over the top. You still collect Red Orbs like before and you can still upgrade your weapons like before. Secret Missions are easier to find but harder to complete and Dantes moves haven't changed much. The big change is Nero. He looks almost identical to Dante albeit a lot younger and even his moves are similar to Dante from DMC1 and DMC2. The only real thing that sets him apart is his arm. Nero is a Demon and he possesses a power known as Devil Bringer. Basically his arm can be used to grab enemies and objects at a distance. O is used to throw enemies and Hold down R1 and press O to grab enemies at a distance. Devil Bringer is also used to reach hard to reach places by grabbing key points in the level and catapulting himself to higher hights. Then there's his Sword. Perhaps Capcom were trying to make him cool so they gave his sword a 'revving' ability. Just like the handlebars of a motorbike Neros Sword can be revved by pressing L2. At maximum rev the sword does more damage and does different moves. Personally I found it more annoying then handy. Before every fight I got into a habit of revving the sword for maximum effect only to waste it's power by missing my first few slashes. So I stop mid fight and rev the sword again. It's an annoying practice and actually takes away from the excitement rather then adding to it. However if you gather enough Red Orbs you can buy an Ability that enables Nero to Rev his sword to the max after every hit.
Anyone who has played a DMC game before knows how hard it can be. Well DMC4 is no different. I'm not a huge follower of the series and I didn't bother with DMC3 much but I still class myself as a good player. Well even on the Normal difficulty some Bosses almost caused my controller to hit the wall. With a game this difficult and unforgiving it's hard to call it 'fun'. At times I felt I was playing not because I wanted to have fun but because I wanted to finish it so I could move on to the next game. Every mission feels like a chore rather then a bit of fun gaming. You know you will have to fight a boss at the end of each level and you know it's not going to be easy. This gives the sense of dread not joy. ......................
However the fun side of DMC4 comes to the gamers that continue playing after finishing it. Replaying the game a second time is actually a lot of fun as you'll have a lot of moves in your arsenal and your health bar will be much bigger. This makes the game a hell of a lot easier the second time you play it and the bosses that once gave you a headache will now be dead within a minute. Completing the game also unlocks a mini game. It's a Survival type game that puts you up against 100 increasingly difficult sets of enemies.
The worst thing that really bugged me though is that every time you beat a boss, instead of dying the boss just gets up, makes a little speech and flies away. Leaving you with the annoyance of knowing you will have to face him again later in the game. Unfortunatly you don't just face the same boss twice. Some of the bosses needs to beaten 3 times throughout the game. What's worse is that near the end you will have to fight all bosses in a row without a break to save. The feeling of 'I beat you already, why do I have to do it again??!!' springs to mind.
The sense of Deja Vu will happen a lot throughout the game. When you reach Level 12 you switch to Dante. Instead of moving forward Dante actually goes back the way you came revisiting all previous levels and beating all the Bosses that you already did with Nero. Over the next 6 levels with Dante you will back where you started with Nero in Mission 2 (Mission 1 is a tutorial and a little fight with Dante). So really the game could've been half as long. You beat the same boss twice sometimes thrice and you revisit all the locations twice. Maybe Capcom ran out of time or ideas and just decided to have players complete the game twice in one playthrough (that's pretty much how it feels). Whatever the reason it really hurts the game and the score.
The Gameplay is pretty much identical from before. Controls are the same and aside from a few new moves here and there and a few extra weapons thrown in nothing feels revolutionary new. The Sixaxis Motion Sensors play no part throughout the game either aside from adjusting the Camera angle if you choose it from the Options. Nero might have the cool Devil Bringer but aside from that you will find yourself doing the same moves again and again. His moves are by no means special and even the Devil Bringer doesn't make up for the lack of moves on offer to him. Dante on the other hand is the complete opposite. He has a ton of moves available. He uses 4 different Styles called Sword Master, Gun Slinger, Trickster and Royal Guard. Each Style comes with it's own weaknesses and strengths. He also has a lot more weapons available to him such as his trusty Ebony & Ivory, a shotgun and a Pandora Box which can transform into a Bazooka and Laser Cannon. Add to that the other styles such as Gaglomesh and the combos can vary with every enemy. In way it's a good thing having so much available to you but on the other hand it can all get slightly confusing switching between 4 weapons, 4 Styles and 4 Melee Attacks. Either way Nero got the short straw when it came to getting weapons and attacks. Even so I still prefer Nero now over Dante. For some reason Capcom made Dante into an egotistic, bigheaded, over the top drama queen. His corny one liners no longer make him look cool and his cockeyness just hurts his personality even more. Dante was cool, but not anymore.
The Graphics are a step up from previous titles as you'd expect however apart from a few beautiful set pieces and a couple stunning bosses they are nothing spectacluar. The lighting is pretty good although not as good as Drakes Fortune. The beauty lies in the enemies. While the background and levels are sometimes bland and dull the enemies stand out like a sore thumb. Amazing detail and incredibly original, the enemies in DMC4 make the Silent Hill enemies look like The Village People. The majority of the bosses however are nothing we haven't seen before. In fact I've seen better bosses in God Of War II and Shadow Of The Collossus on the PS2. Speaking of which both of those games seem to be the influence for one of the Final Bosses called The Saviour. A giant stone man just like in SOTC and GOW2. Unfortunalty The Saviour in DMC4 pales in comparison to the Bosses in GOD2 and SOTC.
It's not all bad though. The action is still great and enjoyable and the Cutscenes look incredible with over the top action galore. ......................
Some of the Bosses are a joy to fight like the Nero Vs Dante fight and the avarage enemies are not too difficult and yet not too easy either. The whole game is one big challenge and there is a sense of achievement afterwards. It is hard though. Rock hard at times. Choosing Continue for the 15th time might get annoying but once you do finally beat that Boss you get a sense of achievement and suddenly all that aggrovation turns to satisfaction.
The Replay Value is pretty good. If you want to attempt the Dante Must Die Difficulty then be my guest but be warned...it is extreme. You unlock some nice extras after finishing the game too including a new mode which should add to the replay value. You can also revisit Missions and attempt to improve your Rankings. You don't get anything for it but it does give you bragging rights with your mates on PSN. If you just plan on playing it once however you will get a week or 2 out of it. There are 20 Missions and each mission ranges from under 5 minutes to over half an hour in length. The difficulty might make each level longer though especially if you are new to the series. The Ranking Systems and Online Ranking might make you replay a few missions again to compete with friends.
Another major let down is the installation. When you first put the disc into your PS3 you are prompted to install a chunk of the game onto your HDD. This take about 20 minutes and the result is not really worth it. It takes up 5GB of your precious HDD. Not a big deal really if you have the 60GB PS3 like I do but to those that have the 40GB or even the 20GB PS3 using 5GB of your memory suddenly does become a big deal. The benefit of this is to improve loading times. Loading times only take about 2 seconds on each screen but is it really worth the 5GB of space and the 20 minute wait just to improve the loading by a few seconds?? There is no option either whether or not you want to install it. You're not given a choice. It's either install 5GB or bring the game back to the shop.
Final Note. This is a great game if you enjoy a challenge like I do. I prefer difficult games then easy games so while the difficulty did cause me to swear at the TV sometimes afterwards I carried on and enjoyed the game to the end. The fixed camera positions doesn't really cause a lot of headache because the camera doesn't hinder you much apart from the occasional time when the camera fails to see an enemy right beside you. The Lock-On feature of the weapons does annoy sometimes especially during big boss fights when you lock onto something small on the other side of the room while the big mean boss is 2 feet away from you although you can change the Target Preferences in the Options Menu. The Puzzle sections are either very easy or just based on luck (like rolling a giant dice). The Backtracking with Dante is a major let down though as is revisiting previously beaten bosses. Even with all the faults though the core gameplay is solid and it is still an enjoyable game. It's not for casual gamers though and it's not a 'Pick up and Play' game either. DMC4 is best appreciated by those that carry on playing after the titles roll at the end. Only then does the game trully become fun and only then will you start to appreciate how great a game this actually is. Don't let this review fool you into thinking this game is crap. It's anything but crap. In fact DMC4 is a masterpiece in it's own right. All the flaws I mentioned are outweighed by the sheer fun and over the top action. The fact that this game is hard is a good thing. There's nothing worse then finishing a game within a few hours without breaking a sweat. This game will challenge you, this game will excite you, this game will have you holding your breath as you try to kill off a horde of enemies during a Sick Ranking Combo, this game will have you punching your fist into the air as you finally beat a boss that took you 10 continues and with the cutscenes involving Gloria this game will probably even get you turned on slightly.
It has flaws but not enough to make a big deal out of. Excellent game.