In short, if you haven't worked it out by now, Devil May Cry 4 could and should have been so much more than it ultimately was
When this game was first announced by Capcom back in March, 2007 the internet had a mini-explosion. Capcom defended itself by saying it wanted its game “to reach as wide an audience as possible.” That sounded fair enough to me, but various sections of the Sony faithful weren’t having it. Embittered by Capcom’s decision to go multi, they felt that franchises such as Devil May Cry defined the Sony Playstation brand and its exclusivity was one of the reasons for their continued support. Things soon got out of hand and even a petition was made threatening to boycott all future Capcom sales – to this day 12,300 people have signed it.
So, here I am sitting here on release day, after having played the game for the last few days wondering what on earth all that fuss was about. The blood, sweat and tears that the Sony mob put into their protests certainly outweigh the effort put into the game itself. If 12,300 people don’t buy Devil May Cry 4 then if they own any of the other titles they aren’t missing out on anything revolutionary. Yes of course the graphics are as polished and as shiny as you would expect from this gen (it’s not next-gen anymore it’s the here and now) but the gameplay is exactly the same as it ever was.
Neros’ Devil Bringer is his only redeeming feature.
Dante’s fighting styles can be changed on the fly by pressing the D-pad in the required direction.
The only real difference is the introduction of one of the most irritating, idiotic and immature figures in all of gaming history, that of Nero. It is a very weird feeling when you find yourself siding with the people who actually want to kill you, whilst at the same time you are trying to get excited about dishing out the punishment to them. Witty quip after witty quip, in fact every utterance from his lips has about as much success as the England football in the quarter finals of a major tournament. This cock-sure kid, with no real background story to even begin to ignite some kind of compassion for him with, is desperate to try and save his true love, Kyrie and his story (and I use that term as loosely as possible) is all about the trials and tribulations involved in this.
I didn’t use those words by accident by the way trawling through the first eleven levels really did feel like a trial and a tribulation. Repetition after repetition, not just in the fighting mechanics but in the scenery also: over 50% of the first half of the game takes place in the same area. Capcom limiting you to how much you can manipulate the camera also made these environments seem very claustrophobic and ultimately lifeless. Surely the Classic Resident Evil view and ever changing camera angle is a little old now? The bad guys come in droves but on the basic difficulty they are more than easily dispensed with. However, dispensing with them in the same manner time and time again gets rather, how can I say this delicately…boring?
I know that Devil May Cry isn’t about the end product it’s all about how you got there, and the game certainly rewards you for experimentation with more Proud Souls and Orbs with which to learn more varied attack moves and thus heighten gameplay enjoyment. However, the game clearly instructs you to search everything and explore the world. If you take it literally though, it means that the time you take to complete a level is longer, thus meaning you get a lower score, thus obtaining fewer Proud Souls and not having enough with which to learn new moves with - lunacy. So if like me, you like to explore and hack and slash everything to gather as many red orbs as you can, you’ll only end up getting punished at the end of level screen and thus hamper your overall gaming experience.
What is it about this picture I like? I can’t quite put my finger on it.
The two protagonists battle it out for the worst dialogue in any vide game ever competition.
Speaking of the end of level screen, there is a design choice present I could never quite understand. The game gives you the option to save your progress, but only at the level you have just completed. That means if you save your game instantly after level 5 for example, then switch off your Xbox, when you re-load the game at a later juncture you have to start at the beginning of level 5 again. What you are meant to do is go on to the next level, watch the movie sequence – which there are far too many of by the way, breaking up any kind of flow the game wants to achieve – then you get a pre-level menu. From the pre-level menu you can also save your game, which will then save it correctly at the start of level 6. However, when you then start level 6 after saving it post-movie sequence, you get the movie sequence playing yet again. Thankfully a quick push of the start button and it’s all over but having to play level 5 twice over was very irritating and I still can’t quite fathom why when you are at the end of a level and save, the game doesn’t restart you automatically at level 6 when you re-load. Oh well.
I mentioned the graphics being shiny and detailed and yes, that’s true, they are. Especially in the all too many aforementioned movie sequences which not only are too numerous, they are also too long. However our old friend Mr. V-sync tearing rears its ugly head like that of the She-Viper, especially in the forest level. For a game that isn’t exactly pushing the hardware for all it has got, it isn’t really excusable in 2008. The sound too is as to be expected, namely hard rock with thrashing guitars which although abominable does suit the gameplay and is classic DMC. Again though, as with most things about Devil May Cry 4, when you hear the same riff with every single battle sequence and I do mean every single bloody one, it does make you stop and pause as to whether whoever made the choice to do that actually cared about this game at all.
Ah my old friend Berial! His presence is very atmospheric and impressive to watch.
Some enemies go into a cocoon like state to regenerate.
For Devil May Cry 4 to be a success it really did need to look at the God of War franchise and ask itself why these games are now so popular and what is it about Kratos that so many of us like. If they would have asked themselves those questions and acted upon the answers that would have arisen then DMC 4 could have been something rather special indeed. Instead we are treated to the same old, same old which only the most ardent Dante fans will get any real long lasting enjoyment out of. If they really want a cheesier than cheese and cornier than corn storyline, then I’m sorry but it really will and up alienating people. I don’t like laughing at games, but some of the exchanges between Nero and his adversaries are simply comical in completely the wrong way.
DEVIL MAY CRY 4 VERDICT
In short, if you haven’t worked it out by now, Devil May Cry 4 could and should have been so much more than it ultimately was. I’m sure Alanis Morrissette would appreciate the irony of the fact that the very people that Capcom appear to have alienated by their controversial cross-platform release are precisely the same group who will most likely get the most out of this game. Even shorter: I was rather disappointed, to be honest as I too, was looking forward to this one greatly.