Platforms: PC/Steam, PS4, Xbox One | Developer/Publisher: Capcom | ESRB: M | Controls: Mouse/Keyboard, Controller
Let’s be straight here. I’m not a big aficionado of the Devil May Cry series. I played the original on my PS2. The distinctly Japanese, over-the-top styling drew me to the game, yet all that I can remember, aside from the main character of course, was that it was weird, somewhat clunky and very high on the difficulty scale. I played a little of the second game, none of the 3 or 4 and enjoyed a partial playthrough of the new DMC. So if these casually announced, blasphemous details don’t somehow “disqualify” me from sharing my opinion… then please continue to my look at Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition on the PS4 with a new set of eyes.
I’ve always had an affinity for Japanese culture, starting with the discovery of anime at an early age, moving through the works of Kurosawa and various 70’s Yakuza films and on to my appreciation of a number of their art styles including the ink wash painting known as sumi-e. Also enjoy their, what appears to Western eyes, as wacky culture, which loves to mish-mash opposing style and appropriate ideals from other cultures, while still holding to some of their more conservative and traditional values.
Devil May Cry is a perfect example of this, as the game presents itself as an essentially action-packed, rock-opera styled, anime-influenced game with dialogue that is weird blend of Japanese and American youth ideals. This 4th entry into the series seems to take all of these disparate flavors to their fullest extend. Where I come from, mixing a ton of flavors all together has a name, a graveyard. This seems appropriate for DMC 4, as this particular concoction, though fan-acclaimed, and fairly well-reviewed at the time, was the death knell for the series in that original incarnation.
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition – An Updated Classic?
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition is essentially a partial remaster of the 2008 release with some additional content mixed in. The upgraded visuals are readily apparent as the game’s extended intro starts, running at a full 1080p and 60fps. So to are the meetings of styles. Nero hurries to hear his girlfriend’s singing. He battles demons as he makes his way towards a Roman style cathedral, the the town is part English Victorian and Spanish villa. Somehow it works.
Unfortunately this variety can only take the game so far along with the few upgraded textures and models. They often serve to polish large, wide-open and boring spaces, or are obscured through some weird depth of field effect that the game insists on employing. Often the most interesting looking sections last for one or two screens before the player immediately transitions to the next.
These short transitions are just a symptom of one of the game’s biggest ills, it’s poor and repeated level design. The standard game type uses Nero for 12 stages, before switching to Dante for 6 and then back to Nero. The entirety of the time spent with Dante is going backwards through the exact same levels that you progressed through as Nero. Not too mention that back-tracking within the back-tracking, made more frustrating by the classic Capcom fixed-camera angles.
The bulk of the Devil May Cry 4 “story” which is revealed in a highly convoluted way, considering it’s a pretty simple, organization gains to much power, becomes bad, tries to destroy everyone else, at it’s core, is mostly about a boy getting the girl back. I have no issue with this except that Nero isn’t a hero that impresses me much. I get that a lot of DMC’s character appeal is based on cocky bravado, it’s just not a trait that grabs me.
Maybe I’m missing out on some rich character development and history from the 2nd and 3rd games. Sadly, Capcom provides no option for me to read or view a recap, while their dialogue and narrative are not nearly strong enough to give me much in the backstory either. Still if I was a die-hard of the series, I could see that the game was for fans, who would already know these things.
I can see them loving their character and the style they’ve followed through the series, but the issues with level design and back-tracking aren’t the sole ones here. The game’s movement feels stiff at times (a reminder to use Turbo Mode). Having dabbled in the newest DMC, I was much more impressed with the flow of movement there, maybe the mechanics have just aged badly. I was annoyed by being locked in a straight downward line when falling, and the extremely slow rolling and basic jump dodges.
Nero’s moveset is pretty straightforward, nothing too exciting. All of Dante’s move look better, but there are just too damn many of them. You have such a brief window of play-time with him, it would be hard for first-timer to figure out their “play-style” and upgrade moves accordingly. Virgil, playable through the game’s main menu, was the most interesting character with the best move-set for my tastes.
Trish and Lady are also playable, with Lady taking the Nero part and Trish taking Dante’s. They even get their own weird intro sequence to the game. Lady is a slower moving character with an emphasis on projectiles, via her rocket launcher, and Trish is faster character more in the style of Dante, with a huge sword and dual-wielded pistols.
On a side-note, and I know some people may roll their eyes on this, do we really need the goofy “breast physics” paired with those ridiculous outfits? I’m not saying you can’t put that in games, or that if you like them you are bad, I’m simply saying that as an adult gamer, who’s been at this awhile, it just comes off as ridiculously childish to include them.
DMC’s operatic beginnings and occasional interludes are filled in with some “nu-metal” backing that has, I assume multiple songs that all blur together into a mostly forgettable soundtrack. It’s clearly not my proverbial cup of tea. Sound effects are limited, though appropriate in most instance. The majority of them are grunts and groans. Which you may be doing if you’ve made it this far either as a fan, or detractor.
For those that loved the original Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition on the PS4 (Also available on Xbox One and C) the update adds the three new characters, playable in all modes. A big selection of difficulty levels mean that, if you enjoy the game, there’s plenty of challenge to come back to on repeat plays. The title is out now for a modest $24.99, so if you do enjoy the series, or it seems like something you’d like, the entry pricepoint is favorable.
PS4 Version for Review provided by publisher.