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Devil May Cry 4 (PC) artwork

Devil May Cry 4 (PC) review

"The Devil May Cry series hasn't exactly been consistent. While the original game was a unique and ultra-stylish masterpiece, the second outing was a universally reviled mess. The third game had the gameplay back on track, but was deemed too tricky by all but the most hardcore of action fans. It turns out that the fourth time's the charm, because Devil May Cry 4 is as good as the self-proclaimed "hard stylish action" franchise has ever been. "

The Devil May Cry series hasn't exactly been consistent. While the original game was a unique and ultra-stylish masterpiece, the second outing was a universally reviled mess. The third game had the gameplay back on track, but was deemed too tricky by all but the most hardcore of action fans. It turns out that the fourth time's the charm, because Devil May Cry 4 is as good as the self-proclaimed "hard stylish action" franchise has ever been.

DMC4 boots Dante out of the starring role, replacing him with a half-demon named Nero who sports near-identical looks and a bad attitude. Dante isn�t absent, mind you, as he starts the game off with a bang when he pays a visit to the religious group, The Order of the Sword, and puts a bullet in their leader�s head. As a member of the group, Nero is none too pleased with this turn of events and sets off in pursuit of Dante, fighting legions of uncooperative demons in the process. In typical DMC fashion, the story is the video game equivalent of a Summer popcorn movie. It�s over-the-top, revels in its absurdity and, thanks to some slick cut-scenes, is spectacularly fun to follow.

While the engrossing storyline certainly doesn't hurt, Devil May Cry will always be about the gameplay. This is the series that pioneered the stylish action genre and advanced it to where it is today, so it�s no surprise that this fourth installment ups the ante even more. Nero battles his demonic foes with a gun and a sword duo, just as Dante did, and these two weapons alone provide you with a wealth of combos and techniques to employ. Change is a good thing, though, and that's where Nero's arm, the Devil Bringer, comes in. In addition to slashing and shooting, you can now grab a foe and toss them into the ground, or pull them over to your location (even in the air) and launch a barrage of attacks. Since your enemies are always within reach (quite literally), there�s never a moment of downtime in combat, keeping the tension at a constant high. The battle system also brings with it a series of subtleties, like the ability to rev up your sword to strengthen your attack and a bevy of upgradeable abilities and techniques, so needless to say, violence has seldom been this deep.

This PC-exclusive mode makes things a little more difficult.

That�s a good thing, too, because the game stumbles a bit in the other half of the equation -- level design. Each mission in the game is linear, tasking you with finding a key or relic to progress. As you run through the levels, you�ll periodically be sealed into rooms and forced to duke it out with enemies before you can advance; anyone who requires exploration or inventive layouts in their games need not apply. While this is Nero�s game, Dante takes the reins for part of the adventure; but his levels consist mostly of backtracking through previously explored territory. Dante fights just as he did in DMC3, though he's got a few new tricks like the ability to switch combat styles on-the-fly as well as some bizarre and truly inventive new weapons. The Son of Sparda plays much differently from Nero, changing the game's dynamics quite a bit, but chances are that you�ll still yearn for some new terrain to cover. Nero�s adventure also plays host to some phenomenal boss battles that are supremely fun to tackle � the first time. The problem is that you�ll be facing off against most of the game�s bosses multiple times, eventually dampening the enjoyment. While these issues would ordinarily be enough to condemn a game, DMC4 survives on the strength of its combat system alone. Because of the sheer focus on the fighting and the fact that the game handles combat so well, most of these design flaws aren't glaring enough to significantly hinder the game.

The first playthrough should take you a respectable 10-12 hours to finish, though this isn't an especially difficult journey (certainly easier than DMC3, at least.) The game has some teeth to it, however, in the form of harder difficulty settings that make the combat more satisfying and the Bloody Palace, which works like a fighting game's survival mode. New to the PC version are the turbo mode that speeds up the game considerably and the Legendary Dark Knight mode which allows you to fight battles with up to 100 enemies on-screen, making for pure chaos. Admittedly, these new modes will only appeal to diehards who want to wring every last drop out of the game, but their inclusion is appreciated.

Boss battles are brilliant� if only there were more of them.

The initial console release of Devil May Cry 4 was undeniably pretty, but the PC version is even more visually arresting. Given the right hardware, you can expect to see some insanely detailed textures and copious graphical doodads. The game scales fairly well, so you should still be treated to some eye candy even on an aging rig. The audio is similarly impressive, featuring delightfully cheesy voice acting that fits the game�s style, satisfying sound effects, and an excellent musical score that runs the gamut from angry rock to haunting vocal melodies. Despite Capcom�s less-than-impeccable history with PC games, Devil May Cry 4 is technically sound, and didn�t exhibit any glitches. It�s worth noting, though, that while the game supports keyboard controls, this console-based game simply isn�t suited to such an input. Consider a gamepad mandatory.

This latest entry in the hardcore action series isn�t perfect, but its emphasis � the combat � is better than it has ever been, making it arguably the strongest DMC yet. The PC version is unquestionably the definitive edition of the game, and the new modes and dramatically improved graphics make it worth the upgrade for series fanatics. DMC4�s PC appearance might be half a year late, but it�s still as good as actioners get.

Daisuke02's avatar
Community review by Daisuke02 (July 11, 2008)

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Suskie posted July 12, 2008:

Make sure the screenshots accompanying this review aren't so big that they squeeze out the sidebar. Otherwise the whole page looks rather ugly.
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honestgamer posted July 12, 2008:

Maximum width you should be using at present is 465. Any wider and you run the risk of stretching the page. I think in some cases as much as 470 will work, but 500 is a no go.
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Daisuke02 posted July 12, 2008:

Sure, I'll change that up now.
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bluberry posted July 12, 2008:

good review, but I can't say I agree. I still enjoyed it, but I'd be willing to bet this is what happened with DMC4:

Capcom were on their way to developing an awesome DMC4 with just Nero and then some dickhead decided that the game just wouldn't sell if they didn't force Dante in as a playable character. so they spent tons of development time working that in instead and ended up with an underdeveloped Nero, an underdeveloped Dante (who's somehow way more limited than DMC3 Dante even with style-switching), and an underdeveloped game (the levels are awfully bland, not to mention the second half being one big backtrack).

I think if they'd been allowed to focus on Nero, it would have turned out much better. plus the difficulty is a joke to any hardcore DMC player, I can understand toning down normal but DMD should kick your ass. instead, it's basically the same as hard except if you really suck then the enemies might eventually DT. but if you really suck, you wouldn't have beaten hard.

the characters are both too strong, too, Nero never has to work for an opening to use Snatch/Buster against enemies and Dante has a few totally overpowered moves and either spamming pinup, using a glitched Real Impact, or jump-canceling Gilg's downward kick will let you shred bosses in about a minute flat even on DMD.

I need to write a review, if this doesn't count as having done so already. hahaha

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