Back in the days of the PlayStation 2, all of my friends owned one, but I did not. I was kicking it on the GameCube and the original Xbox. My friends were absolutely in love with the Devil May Cry series of games, and I did not understand why. To me it looked like just another hack and slash button masher. Finally, after playing my first Devil May Cry game on the Xbox 360, I think I understand the appeal.
In Devil May Cry 4 you can pull of some insane moves. Hit a demon up in the air with your sword, juggle him with your pistols, jump upside-down in the air while you twirl like a whirlwind spitting bullets at a crowd of demons, and then finally come down with your sword on a demon’s head. This is intense stuff. The kind of moves your character always does in the cut scenes of other games, but you can never actually pull off yourself.
Being new to the series, I found the storyline a bit confusing. Please forgive me if I botch any of it. The first character you play as is Nero, a half demon. He is a not very devout member of the Order of the Sword. The real reason he attends the cult is for his girlfriend, Kyrie. Nero does not seem to know the Order’s true purpose and does not know they are going around opening hellgates and experimenting on demons.
In the game’s opening, Nero is attending an Order meeting. Dante, the protagonist from the older Devil May Cry games, bursts in and kills high priest of the Order. Dante also happens to be a half demon and a demon hunter. Dante easily defeats most of the Order&’s knights and then Nero springs into action. Nero and Dante fight, and Nero thinks he has beaten Dante, when Dante simply leaves. Credo, a high ranking officer in the Order, and also Kyrie’s brother, then orders Nero to go after Dante. Nero pursues Dante, but along the way Kyrie is kidnapped and Nero finds out what the Order is really doing. Eventually, Nero realizes that Dante is not against him, and you play a few levels as Dante. At the end of the game, you play again as Nero, while you try to save Kyrie.
I was surprised a game of this type had such an in depth storyline. The story itself is not anything new, it is sort of a typical anime story about demons, love, rivals, and the end of the world. Nevertheless, it is presented well.
While the series originated on the PlayStation 2, the controls seem well suited to the Xbox 360′s controller. Your pistols are assigned to X, your sword Y, jump A, and grabs to B. Your lock-on is mapped to the Right Bumper, and your specials are mapped to the triggers. This may seem limited, but it is not. You can charge your guns by holding X or streak towards an enemy by holding the lock-on and pressing Y. Depending on whether you are on the ground or in the air and the amount of times you press Y will give you different combos. Different uses of the lock-on with Y and with the control stick do different things as well. After just a few minutes with the game, you will be chaining gun, aerial, sword, and grab attacks together.
The melee combat is fun, but that is not the main appeal. The main appeal is the epic boss fights. The bosses are huge, monstrous demons. Beating them requires refined timing and knowing when to bring the combos. Taking down such gigantic bosses is immensely satisfying.
The only downside is you will not always be killing demons. There are a few times in the game where the action stops and the game makes you solve a puzzle or go through some 3-D platforming. The puzzles are quite frankly not even really puzzles. Often times, they consist of simply following the right path. Other times you simply had to hit something with your sword or investigate the most obvious thing in a room. My favorite puzzle had to be rolling dice. That is right; you have to roll dice until you have rolled enough spaces to unlock the next area.
The 3-D platforming is disappointing because while the platforming is in 3-D, you have no control of the camera. In other parts of the game, you do have camera control, but hiding relevant areas seems to be part of the platforming challenge. Therefore, the platforming seems needlessly frustrating. I wonder why they even put these platforming elements in these action games. Are gamers really going to be telling their friends about the awesome platforming sequence they just played?
Capcom delivers another amazing looking game. This is the first Xbox 360 game in a while that has surprised me by how good it looks. Backgrounds and settings have good detail and realistic shadowing. The character models are also very lifelike, but not in that creepy sort of way. Nero and Dante’s character designs are far too similar for my tastes though.
The in-game cinemas are really gorgeous, nearing the quality of a CG movie. The overall production values for them are excellent.
Capcom is one of the few companies to use surround sound effectively. Ambient effects are spaced in surround sound channels. The audio sounds like you are in the game space. The music is not too shabby either. While you are not fighting, it is creepy and atmospheric. When enemies appear the music starts to ramp up to a hard rock song. As the music ramps up and the action gets more intense, the game's entire feel is more energetic.
The voice acting is well done. None of the actors goes too far over the top (which may have been hard to do in game about a demon invasion). I especially appreciated the fact that Johnny Yong Bosch, the voice of Vash the Stampede in the English dub of Trigun, played Nero.
Devil May Cry 4 is one of those old-school gamer games. After beating it one difficulty, you will want to beat it on the next, and then the next, and then the next. You can upload your score to Xbox Live at the end of each level you complete, so many will just want to up their friend’s score. Playing through again allows you to use techniques you learn later in the game throughout the missions. You can also continue to upgrade your character. After playing through once, I had not unlocked that many achievements. I would love to unlock some more and improve my score on a few levels.
If you own a Xbox 360, you must check this game out. I am not a big fan of this genre but I ended up loving this game. Once you start playing this game, you will not be able to put it down. Other games only saw my Xbox 360′s tray once in my time of playing Devil May Cry 4 through.In fact, I am going to go back and play some more.
So, if you’ll please excuse me… I have to go kick some demon ass.
Devil May Cry 4 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3