Devil May Cry 4 (PlayStation 3) Review

By Renan Fontes 29.12.2016 4

Review for Devil May Cry 4 on PlayStation 3

While the Devil May Cry series was a quality rollercoaster from its first instalment to its third, most fans could agree on one thing: Dante was cool. The white-haired, red-coated jokester was the face of the franchise, and a great one at that. Even DMC2's more subdued Dante managed to pull out the hokey one liners when it counted. He'd earned his spot as a gaming icon and one of Capcom's most interesting personas, so what happens when Dante's suddenly out of the picture? Devil May Cry 4. Although Dante still plays a major role, the clear focus is on suspiciously similar newcomer Nero and his quest to rescue his girlfriend from a cultish religion that worships Dante's father. Is the new coat of paint a welcome addition, or is it just another misstep à la DMC2?

Unlike something like Metal Gear Solid 2, Devil May Cry 4 makes no attempts at hiding Nero's role as the true lead. The opening cut-scene prominently features Nero right in action, a nice contrast from the previous entries' more subdued openers. As a result, Nero isn't given much character right away, but watching him fight mobs of enemies to Laura Napoli's beautiful singing is a pleasant way to open an otherwise chaotic hack n' slash.

The newfound fantasy setting can be a bit jarring compared to the more dystopian and gothic aesthetic found in Dante's three titles, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the level design uses the architecture to its advantage.

The castle town of Fortuna is more fitting for a JRPG than a Devil May Cry instalment, and Nero certainly feels a bit less colourful and unique than Dante, but the tone of the series hasn't changed whatsoever, as made abundantly clear when Dante finally shows up in the first mission.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 4 on PlayStation 3

Dante's appearance does a lot right in a few short minutes. In one mission, Nero's playstyle is introduced, and Dante appears to assure players that he will in fact be playing a role, showing off all the new tricks he's learned in the process.

Having Dante serve as a foil and antagonist for Nero right off the bat is a brilliant decision. Thematically, he is completely against Nero's organisation, the Order of the Sword, and their clashing playstyles go toe to toe as Dante toys with and makes quick work of Nero.

Gameplay-wise, Nero and Dante contrast each other nicely. Nero's combat revolves around charging his sword to reach new tiers of moves and using his Devil Bringer to grapple and latch onto foes. He has just enough moves to differentiate himself from Dante without breaking away from the core concept that defines Devil May Cry.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 4 on PlayStation 3

Nero's adventure takes up roughly the first half of the story, as he travels to abandoned castles, snowy mountains, misty forests, and flame-ridden villages. While atypical for the series, the new settings are quite nice and offer plenty puzzle-wise, although not as gracefully as DMC3.

Puzzles in Dante's Awakening weren't exactly easy, but they weren't time consuming, either. They could be completed in a reasonable manner without much combat stalling. DMC4, on the other hand, embraces mid-stage puzzles a bit too much, with every single stage featuring some sort of riddle or obstacle to distract from the core combat.

Thankfully, the puzzle solving doesn't take up too much of time spent in missions, but once control shifts to Dante halfway through, a bigger problem rears its head: backtracking.

Playing as Dante is incredibly fun thanks to his new style switch mechanic that allows him to alternate between all the styles introduced in DMC3. At the press of a button, he can switch from a melee oriented swordsman, to a gun slinging acrobatic, or even a sturdy counter-oriented warrior, but he simply doesn't have the right level design to accommodate his new skills.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 4 on PlayStation 3

Having to go through the exact same stages Nero went through, but backwards, takes a lot of the joy out of playing as Dante, and it's a shame considering he offers the most combat variety the series has ever seen. It's still wildly fun style switching and playing around with all his new weapons, but the reused settings, puzzles, and bosses can be rather frustrating.

It's really a testament to the combat when playing as Dante is arguably more fun than playing as Nero, despite the repetitive settings. Dante's gameplay is genuinely the very best the series has ever seen. With his entire armoury available to him at all times, there are more immediate tactics and strategies at the ready than ever before.

Capcom's decision to switch Nero to the lead role, if only for mainly the first half, was a risky one, but one that pays off, since he's just as fun to play as Dante is, but forcing Dante to go through the exact same stages as Nero only serves to hurt what could have been the best instalment in the series. Dante's gameplay, and the reinclusion of Bloody Palace make up for a weak back half, but it's hard to imagine that Devil May Cry 4 couldn't have been better if it just had a bit more time to fix up Dante's section.

Screenshot for Devil May Cry 4 on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

If Devil May Cry 4 weren't blatantly unfinished, it's entirely possible it could have ended up as the definitive DMC title. Nero's grapple and charge-based playstyle makes for a nice change of pace without abandoning the series' hectic combat. Dante is better than ever, having access to all of his DMC3 styles at the drop of a hat, offering the most gameplay variety the series has ever seen. From a pure gameplay perspective, it's the ideal Devil May Cry, but the non-stop backtracking in the second half holds it back from reaching the heights it so narrowly missed.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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This was arguably my favorite in the series, with the original only falling a bit behind it. Absolutely loved this one.

Really enjoyed it too. This was actually my first DMC, and made me go back to buy the trilogy on PS2. I only finished 1 and 2, and yet to get through 3...which is arguably the best one, so I need to fix that at some point.

this game holds up amazingly. im still learning new tricks to this game's complex and deep combat!

This was probably my favorite in the series. However, DMC3 still has the best combo-oriented gameplay, if you ask me. It seems like the weapon variety just isn't as big as in DMC3, but that's probably because some attacks don't flow into each other as well as they did in DMC3. There are certain weapons (like Lucifer) that I barely ever used, simply because it doesn't combine well with the other weapons at your disposal. Returning to DMC3, every weapon has at least a few attacks that can flow into other combos.

I also think there could've been more new and unique weapons. As it is, many players ended up doing very similar combos to the ones from DMC3, but with less fluidity if not using 'jump canceling'. DMC4's Gilgamesh is basically the same weapon as Beowulf, which was a bit disappointing. It's not that there's anything wrong with adding weapons from previous games, but with a weapon like Lucifer added to the mix, it just results in a lack of variety. There's also nothing as spectacular as DMC3's Nevan weapon. The access to all styles on the fly is great, though.

In addition, the different environments brought some fresh air to the series. DMC3 was lacking in environment variety, with all of them coming across as dark, depressing gothic stuff that I think is more suited to DMC1 Dante's personality, not DMC4 goofball Dante. Besides, there was still quite a large gothic level in DMC4, it's just that the style of DMC4 was slightly more Italian renaissance-ish than dark ages.

It's worth an 8/10 for me too. The developers just went back to the drawing board one too many times. Originally, Nero wasn't part of the game. Later in the development process, they decided Dante's campaign would be in hell (which explains why there are weapons with names like Lucifer and Gilgamesh), while Nero's was on earth. Another interesting thing to note is that there's concept art of a poster showing Nelo Angelo (Vergil) coming out of the Hell Gate. I would guess Nero was originally supposed to fight him. It was rumored Dante was supposed to go insane (temporarily) as he acquired his Perfect Devil Trigger. You can see that trigger in concept art here:

I also quite liked Nero - he reminded me of Vergil (serious, with an angry side) combined with DMC1 Dante. The game could've been amazing, but apparently, they needed to get used to a new engine and hit a snag, resulting in less dev time than they hoped for. Such a shame, but it also shows Itsuno and the team's late 2000s brilliance.


( Edited 04.01.2017 20:55 by Leo Epema )

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