Guest Author - James Shea
The latest in Capcom's Devil May Cry series, DMC4 introduces some new elements but keeps a lot of the styles and conventions that made Devil May Cry popular in the first place.
The story this time revolves around Nero, a member of The Order of the Sword, a group of holy knights that protects the world against demons. Nero sees Dante, the hero of the previous games, kill the holy leader of their order in the middle of a crowded sermon. After fighting Dante - the story's introductory battle, which ends in Dante leaving with a smart remark - Nero must protect the city from the incursion of demons that have overrun it. The mystery of the occurrences and the truth behind Dante's purpose runs deeper as the story progresses.
As mentioned, the main character is Nero, not Dante. However, for the most part, Nero is similar to Dante and Vergil - a white haired pretty-boy in a long coat with a sword and a gun. Nero has three main weapons - his sword, the Red Queen, his dual-barrel revolver, the Blue Rose, and his glowing demonic arm, the Devil Bringer. Each has its own purposes and abilities. The Red Queen is used for most of the game's combat. Besides combo attacks and the like, it can also be "revved up" like an engine (the sword's hilt resembles a motorcycle's handle) to increase its damage. The Blue Rose isn't as damaging as either of the other two weapons, but can be used to wear down enemies - particularly bosses - from a distance. The Devil Bringer is used for throws, but also functions as a grappling hook for use in certain areas and against large enemies. Fans of Dante need not fear, as he is playable as well in parts of the game, using the weapons and styles he possessed in previous games.
DMC4 has a lot of callbacks to old games - moreso than the others do, anyways. The presence of the female leads from DMC 1 and 3 ties connections to those games (the other ones simply acted like they weren't there, similar to Bond Girls) and the introduction of the almost hilariously sexualized Gloria adds a new face to the series. Despite the difference in character styles, Nero and Dante play fairly similar apart from a few differences. This makes Nero familiar to fans of Dante, and Dante familiar to people who have played only this game and played Nero. Finally, the difficulty options are classified as "Normal" and "Devil Hunter", the latter being for people who have played the previous games and are used to the difficulty level established by it.
The graphics are phenomenal in this game, especially in the cutscenes - this actually leads to some parts where the in-game fighting seems drastically overshadowed by the cutscene fighting. As a whole, the game is very nice to look at, with plenty of cool effects to add to the stylish combat system that DMC loves. The sound is pretty good, with a rock-and-roll soundtrack during fight scenes, but it's nothing particularly exceptional. On another technical note, while the installation on the PS3 version does take 20 minutes at the beginning, I noticed almost no loading time during the rest of the game - the entire thing was smooth and seamless.
The gameplay, style, and graphics in this game are all fantastic. Capcom definitely knows what people want from a DMC game, and 4 delivers. The only mitigating factor is, even with the "normal" difficulty level, DMC4 can still get insanely hard at times (outside of combat as well as in it). But, as a whole, DMC4 is a solid package with a lot to love, and if you're willing to invest the time and effort it's worth it.