Thursday, August 10, 2000

Devil May Cry 4 | 8.5

Firstly, let me say that this game is wonderful, as the title of my review would lead you to believe otherwise. I have followed the DMC series since it's initial release in October of 2001, through the horrendous disappointment that was DMC 2 in 2003, and the controller-shattering goodness that was DMC 3 in 2005, so, it's safe to say that I had HIGH expectations (as most did/do) for this sequel. For fans of the original and the prequel, nostalgia will abound, both in good and bad ways, but for some gamers requesting an NG or GoW experience, well, you're not going to find that here. Instead, you're going to find gorgeous graphical presentations on BOTH systems, well done but sometimes cheesy voice acting, some back-tracking (think classic DMC and you'll get it), and completely offensive (as compared to defensive) gameplay filled with enough challenge to satisfy fan boys and newcomers alike.

My biggest complaint about Devil May Cry 4 is also my biggest praise: Old School. For whatever reason, the developers decided that recycling levels and bosses would be a great idea, and, in theory, it is, because you are using two different characters who play, suprisingly enough, rather differently during a majority of the confrontations . My first thought was that Nero is the "Richter Belmont" stand-in for the "Alucard" Dante, and I wasn't too far off. The possibilities of heavy-hitting, nasty looking combos out of Nero are almost endless, thanks to the inclusion of the whip-like Devil Bringer, whereas Dante, with the ability to switch weapons AND styles on the fly leaves ample opportunity for, we'll call it, ecclectic devil destruction. Seriously, the combat in this game is fast, fluid, and aggressive, and may take some getting used to for newcomers to the series. Don't think that I'm equating it to a Dynasty Warriors experience, but more like NG sans the defensive tactics.

The sound in the game, while not top quality or reinvented, fits the experience perfectly. Techno-Rock + Goth-Classical Music certainly add to the experience, considering the locales, which I'll get to later. If you're wanting a brief summary of the music for this game, just listen to any other DMC soundtrack and you'll be right at home. Also, the voice acting in this game is fabulous, in part due to the recruitment of Johnny Young Bosch as Nero, who, after Trigun, Bleach, and Wolf's Rain, to name a few, has had more than enough time to master the honing of paper characters into vocalized existence. Dante is played by the same voice actor that played him in DMC 3, so not much has changed in that dept. My only complaint comes in the form of the translation from Japanese to English, as some of the phrases uttered by the characters come off as silly, childish, or simply confusing. Outside of this, being a fan, I couldn't ask for anything more.

Graphically speaking, this game is pretty. It may not be Uncharted pretty or Mass Effect pretty, but, for a beat-em up game, they are more than enough to satiate the pixel gods. Character-wise, the game is polished and flowing, with hardly any aliasing, clipping, or tearing involved. Location-wise, the game shines, as each location, although there are few, evokes a distinct feeling once entered and explored. What I'm trying to say is that each locale has it's own vibe, that, if you let it, will suck you in, that is, until the back-tracking begins (again, remember old school DMC). My biggest complaint about the graphical presentation of this game comes in the form of shadowing. In some stages of the game, it resembles the blocky, almost super-deformed style of the original DMC, whereas, in others, the shadows are cast almost haphazardly, not appearing in their natural position at all. All in all, however, the graphics are truly a beautiful aspect of the game that do not hinder the enjoyment level of this game in many ways.

Overall, this game is a must buy for any action-adventure fan. Notice that I did not bash the game for the 20 minute install time (PS3 Only) or the fact that, in essence, this game is DMC 1 Redux. If you loved, missed, ranted, or raved about the old style of DMC, well, then you're in for a suprise, as Devil May Cry 4 delivers on all fronts with a retraced but enhanced formula that, while good and bad, has influenced games like God of War and Ninja Gaiden since the series' original inception in 2001. In the immortal words of some guy I'll never meet:

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