Toriver's Investigation: Devil May Cry 4

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Devil May Cry 4
Xbox 360, PS3 (2008)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Action-Adventure

Devil May Cry 4 is a rather old game, I know, but I just recently got around to finishing it after owning it for three years, and I felt it would be good for the next in my "practice review" series.

After the first three games in the series seemed to have a very tight storyline that ties together well, something that I appreciate out of Capcom's games, Devil May Cry 4 made a dramatic shift, one that many fans of the series were rather wary of. Was this shift worth it, and is there anything else in the game we should watch out for? Let's investigate!

Story

As I insinuated above, the most dramatic shift in this story comes in the storyline. Like I said, the first three games clearly had one theme running through all of them: the story of the demon hunter Dante and his adventures to eradicate personal demons as well as the things that go bump in the night. This new story's big departure is that Dante is not the main protagonist. In fact, for half the game, you are led to believe that Dante is a villain.

The main protagonist in this game is Nero, another demon hunter who works for an order that worships the hero Sparda as a god. One day, during a sermon, Dante breaks into the cathedral in dramatic fashion and kills Sanctus, the High Priest of the order. Nero faces off with Dante to try to bring him to justice, but Dante is able to escape. Meanwhile, a large scale demon attack has descended on the city of Fortuna. Credo, the Captain of the Holy Knights and brother of Nero's love interest Kyrie, takes charge and orders Nero to stop the demon epidemic and bring in Dante. Over the course of the game, Nero discovers why Dante assassinated the High Priest and uncovers a sinister plot to do much more than bring about a large demon attack on the city, and Kyrie is captured by the villains. It is up to Nero to get to the bottom of this plot and stop it!

With the introduction of a new protagonist into this comparatively character-driven series, one would hope that Nero would be given a strong characterization, but sadly, we learn only little about him over the course of the game. We never learn exactly why he has the Devil's Arm, what brought him to the order of Sparda, or really anything else about his past. He simply comes across as another snarky badass who, at the time, was probably slated to be the successor to Dante in the series. To give Capcom the benefit of the doubt, I would assume that at the time of the game's release they were planning on making more games featuring Nero in which some of these questions were to be answered, but of course, Capcom opted instead to reboot the entire series and bring Dante back into the spotlight. Frankly, I would say that Capcom made the right decision in the end. Plot-wise, this game is quite a weak installment to attempt such a major change with, and without the characterization Dante was granted in his games, the emptiness of the rest of the plot is made more obvious. But as we'll see, this game wasn't trying to sell itself on its story.

Presentation

Instead of story, this game is all about style. Really, that's probably been the defining cornerstone of any Devil May Cry games up to this point, but the first three installments were still blessed with a passable story to go with it.

Graphically, the game looks and plays very nice, especially in HD. Everything is smooth yet sharp, and I never experienced any slowdowns or stalls during gameplay, even when the screen was littered with enemies. The one noticeable thing I found, however, was the stark difference in quality between the look of gameplay and the look of cutscenes. Rather than having everything be consistent, cutscenes end up with something of an artificial look to them, while gameplay looks more like a natural world, or to be more accurate, like something of a stage in which the action takes place. It really is something like the difference between live theater and a movie. Thinking about it now, one particular cutscene with Dante interacting with one of the game's bosses would kind of lampshade this!

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Gameplay Screenshot

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Cutscene Screenshot

The art style of the game reflects the attitude of its two main characters well, in that it comes across as cheesy and casual, something that's not really meant to be believed or that doesn't really want to be taken seriously. It's giving off this attitude that it doesn't really care, in stark contrast to the age, majesty and grandeur of many of the game's locations. The look of the main characters themselves also has a very Japanese-punk look, with flashy denim or leather jackets, crazy colored hair in a wavy style, and more big belts than a fetishist on Halloween.

And this is another place where Nero seems to be lacking in his characterization. Obviously, the fact that he looks so much like Dante is supposed to convey that he is to be Dante's successor. However, it's just too much. It's almost like Capcom was afraid that we would notice we're not playing as Dante anymore. The big thing that does differentiate Nero's look is the fact that he can't cover up the Devil Arm that's the source of his demonic powers. But that's not really enough to have him stand out as truly aestetically distinct from Dante. Nero even talks pretty much exactly like a younger Dante would. BTW, Johnny Yong Bosch voices Nero, so if you watch dubbed anime, be ready for a very familiar voice coming your way.

Gameplay

The most striking thing about the gameplay, to me, is the pacing. Combat is a hectic free-for-all as you tear through crowds of demons all trying to attack you at once. None of this "honor code" business of only one enemy attacking you at a time. If there are five enemies in the room that want you dead, all five will be coming at you. You have a sword, a gun, a Devil Trigger, and in Nero's case, his Devil Arm at your disposal. Nero's sword can be literally revved-up to strike enemies harder. The Devil Arm allows you to pull yourself closer to enemies, bring them to you, or toss them around like some kind of gorilla. You'll basically be flailing around like a monkey the whole time, so I guess that's a good analogy.

Out of combat, though, the game is very quiet. I would say, too quiet. There are puzzles to solve and obstacles to get through, but none of them really pose any sort of challenge, and in the end you'll just be frustrated at the waste of time. Even in a game as short as this one, where the campaign can take less than ten hours and probably less than eight if you know where you're going, the game will feel like it's padding for time once you cross the halfway point. The same kinds of puzzles will be overused, and the enemies will start feeling tedious to defeat. After the climactic showdown with Dante, you will switch to controlling Dante, and will have to backtrack through the levels you just finished in reverse order, including most of the bosses.

But I will say this about that part of the game: controlling Dante is a lot more fun. While Dante does not have the Devil Arm, he is given a much greater variety (as in, more than one) of swords and guns to choose from, and has the benefit of different styles with which to fight, including a defensive style that allows blocking, something that you'll be desperately wishing you had while playing as Nero.

As for general gameplay with both characters, the controls feel natural and responsive, something you will be thankful for given the rapid pace of combat required to rack up style points and unlock more abilities. But one annoying thing about general gameplay is the camera. For the life of me, half the time I could not put the camera in a convenient position. There are many points in the game in which it seems to be trying for a "dynamic" angle to show off the pretty graphics in the background when you need the camera to be at another angle to get through a puzzle or see an enemy you're trying to hack to pieces. Honestly, it's probably some of the worst camera controls I have ever seen in a video game, and increases the frustration you'll be feeling from the repeated puzzles to begin with.

However, the game does expect quite a bit of you if you are to earn an S ranking in any mission: I couldn't even earn one on the tutorial mission. With many Dante missions, I came close, but no cigar, and this was even on the easiest difficulty. The levels are easy enough to clear. The challenge comes in trying to clear them as quickly and "stylishly" as possible. Again, this game is all about style.

Conclusion

To be honest, I find this to be a game that focuses on style, graphics and aesthetics to the detriment of the other aspects in the game, and those aesthetics are not enough for me to call this a good title. Looking back, I'm not really surprised that it took me three years to complete it. It tries too hard to get your interest with flashy colors and attitude, but then doesn't follow through with good, varied challenges to hold that interest. As with other Devil May Cry games, it's meant to be replayed on higher difficulty settings to see if you can clear them skillfully, but I have to say I really won't be doing so because I just don't want to go through the frustration. I do like Capcom as a developer and enjoy many of their other games, but this is just not one of them. I hope they don't try the same tactics when they finish the reboot of the series.

In short, if you have not played this game yet, you really don't need to bother. Wait for the reboot.

Toriver's Investigation
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Jump Super Stars/Ultimate Stars
Fable III
Coming Soon:
How I Met Your Mother (TV series)
Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
The Last Story

Please leave your thoughts, suggestions, etc. in the comments, and if you like these reviews, check out my OBJECTION! reviews, too!

Well Ihave to say I found Devil May cry 4 to be a great sequel to 3 in every respect. It had just same amount of humor and witty dilogue and the action scenes were just amazing to behold. Some of the best scenes in the game came when a boss was crippled and Nero was able to perform a grapple with the buster and they became even more brutal if the devil trigger was engaged at the time. I completely agree with you that dante is the overall best character to play as because the majority of his damage doesn't come from having to have his sword charged with a ridiculously time instant recharge (I am going to admit it, I leave the auto on for Nero when I play ont he bloody palace simply because it auto charges the red queen).

When it comes to Nero, I have to say I never felt like he was supposed to be a successor to Dante at all. It seemed to me that Nero was supposed to act more as a balance and someone players could relate to. Most of the time people felt distant from dante with how over the top and awesome he was. Nero was meant more to be a human like character, with weaknesses and feelings that we could relate to. When it comes to his design it mostly comes from the fact that, to be honest, long jackets and dusters are badass. His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

As for the games difficulty you should have played on the harder levels. 'Human' or 'Devil' mode are such a breeze that 'son of sparda' becomes the difficulty where the game feels normal and like you are given a real challenge.

Drizzitdude:
His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

Actually, it's because he's

It's covered in one of the tie-in novels, though I wish it was covered in the game. But yeah, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

Wait...easy/automatic charges up Red Queen? Damn, I gotta try that. On the one hand, DMC4 actually takes charge time into consideration (unlike DMC3, when the style bar drains, it doesn't lower your rank; if you reach A-rank and take a breather, you'll remain at A-rank...unless you get hit), but on the other, I had more fun playing around with the buster moves than keeping the sword charged.

Half way through you backtrack the entire linear leveled game. Dante is one of the worst personalities ever. This game sucked balls.

I think DMC4 was the weakest installment so far. Making us backtrack the entire 2nd half was just bull and the difficulty was way too easy. Its actually the only DMC where I was able to beat every difficulty. I haven't even touched Dante Must Die in the Virgil Edition of Devil May Cry 3, which was actually dumbed down because the original game was considered to be too hard. But the only difficult setting in DMC4 was Hell and Hell and even that was easier than Bayonetta on Hard.

Dante seemed really bland is this one too. And I fucking hate Nero.
/rant

Drizzitdude:
Well Ihave to say I found Devil May cry 4 to be a great sequel to 3 in every respect. It had just same amount of humor and witty dilogue and the action scenes were just amazing to behold. Some of the best scenes in the game came when a boss was crippled and Nero was able to perform a grapple with the buster and they became even more brutal if the devil trigger was engaged at the time. I completely agree with you that dante is the overall best character to play as because the majority of his damage doesn't come from having to have his sword charged with a ridiculously time instant recharge (I am going to admit it, I leave the auto on for Nero when I play ont he bloody palace simply because it auto charges the red queen).

When it comes to Nero, I have to say I never felt like he was supposed to be a successor to Dante at all. It seemed to me that Nero was supposed to act more as a balance and someone players could relate to. Most of the time people felt distant from dante with how over the top and awesome he was. Nero was meant more to be a human like character, with weaknesses and feelings that we could relate to. When it comes to his design it mostly comes from the fact that, to be honest, long jackets and dusters are badass. His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

As for the games difficulty you should have played on the harder levels. 'Human' or 'Devil' mode are such a breeze that 'son of sparda' becomes the difficulty where the game feels normal and like you are given a real challenge.

Thanks for the comment, it's always nice to hear a different perspective!

As to Nero's design, although I would agree that yes, the jackets and everything are pretty badass, I still don't really care for the fact that Nero's design is so similar to Dante's. There's plenty of other looks they could have given Nero to make him look badass, be more of a unique-looking character, and fit with the overall aesthetic of the game. And I guess it's just a matter of differing perspective that I just don't see Nero's personality being all that different from Dante, or reminding me of what Dante would be like in his younger days.

But I appreciate everyone's comments, thanks!

NeutralDrow:

Drizzitdude:
His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

Actually, it's because he's

It's covered in one of the tie-in novels, though I wish it was covered in the game. But yeah, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

Wait...easy/automatic charges up Red Queen? Damn, I gotta try that. On the one hand, DMC4 actually takes charge time into consideration (unlike DMC3, when the style bar drains, it doesn't lower your rank; if you reach A-rank and take a breather, you'll remain at A-rank...unless you get hit), but on the other, I had more fun playing around with the buster moves than keeping the sword charged.

Really? What was the tile of the novel because I would really like to read it. It will be interesting to see how they portray Devil May Cry's style in a novel.

Flailing Escapist:
But the only difficult setting in DMC4 was Hell and Hell and even that was easier than Bayonetta on Hard.

Dante seemed really bland is this one too. And I fucking hate Nero.
/rant

I'm sorry to argue this but Bayonetta was extreamly easy in every difficulty. As for the dante comment I think people really need to take a look at dante in all the other games

DMC1-3: *cutscene, dante and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

DMC4: *cutscene, dante (or nero) and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

the point I am trying to make is tht dante is just the same as he ever was in this title. the only difference in his personality is when he is taling to nero, where he treats him like a kid and encourages him. this is most likely due to the fact that the story is meant to mostly follow nero in this one.

On another note, why the hate on Nero? He was very similar to dante in most respects so hating on him him is like hating on dante. The only real difference between dante in nero, as i mentioned before, is nero is supposed to come across as a more human character. He loves his girlfriend and is willing to anything to protect her, (including rage pwning half the order) Is that so bad?

Drizzitdude:

NeutralDrow:

Drizzitdude:
His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

Actually, it's because he's

It's covered in one of the tie-in novels, though I wish it was covered in the game. But yeah, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

Wait...easy/automatic charges up Red Queen? Damn, I gotta try that. On the one hand, DMC4 actually takes charge time into consideration (unlike DMC3, when the style bar drains, it doesn't lower your rank; if you reach A-rank and take a breather, you'll remain at A-rank...unless you get hit), but on the other, I had more fun playing around with the buster moves than keeping the sword charged.

Really? What was the tile of the novel because I would really like to read it. It will be interesting to see how they portray Devil May Cry's style in a novel.

Flailing Escapist:
But the only difficult setting in DMC4 was Hell and Hell and even that was easier than Bayonetta on Hard.

Dante seemed really bland is this one too. And I fucking hate Nero.
/rant

I'm sorry to argue this but Bayonetta was extreamly easy in every difficulty. As for the dante comment I think people really need to take a look at dante in all the other games

DMC1-3: *cutscene, dante and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

DMC4: *cutscene, dante (or nero) and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

the point I am trying to make is tht dante is just the same as he ever was in this title. the only difference in his personality is when he is taling to nero, where he treats him like a kid and encourages him. this is most likely due to the fact that the story is meant to mostly follow nero in this one.

On another note, why the hate on Nero? He was very similar to dante in most respects so hating on him him is like hating on dante. The only real difference between dante in nero, as i mentioned before, is nero is supposed to come across as a more human character. He loves his girlfriend and is willing to anything to protect her, (including rage pwning half the order) Is that so bad?

It may not make sense but the reason people hate on Nero is because he is NOT Dante. He my be similer in a lot of ways but fans do not want to play a DMC game and play as someone like Dante, They want Dante.

Gizmo1990:

It may not make sense but the reason people hate on Nero is because he is NOT Dante. He my be similer in a lot of ways but fans do not want to play a DMC game and play as someone like Dante, They want Dante.

And you got dante in the game. Dante has his own half of the game and nero did as well (similar to what they did in devil may cry 2). In the end, I think it deilivered a great story experience and they will most likely go more into details about neros character in future titles because, believe it or not, there are many fans who liked nero and want to know more.

The game developers decided they they wanetd to add a different point of view to the story is that so wrong? Maybe if it would have completely trashed the game then yes, but DMC4 delivered an imppovement to the highly stylish, high action based gameplay of Devil May Cry all without sacrificing anything.

Well all i can say is that even though the second half of the game is copy/pasted from the first half I still liked it better than Bayonetta. And will not be playing the Team Ninja reboot.

Drizzitdude:

NeutralDrow:

Drizzitdude:
His hair is more of a standard anime-esque hero deal and the fact it is white has to do with the fact he is infected with demon blood.

Actually, it's because he's

It's covered in one of the tie-in novels, though I wish it was covered in the game. But yeah, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

Wait...easy/automatic charges up Red Queen? Damn, I gotta try that. On the one hand, DMC4 actually takes charge time into consideration (unlike DMC3, when the style bar drains, it doesn't lower your rank; if you reach A-rank and take a breather, you'll remain at A-rank...unless you get hit), but on the other, I had more fun playing around with the buster moves than keeping the sword charged.

Really? What was the tile of the novel because I would really like to read it. It will be interesting to see how they portray Devil May Cry's style in a novel.

I think they're called "Devil May Cry - Deadly Fortune." I don't know if they've been translated into English, yet; I've been going off of TV Tropes.

the point I am trying to make is tht dante is just the same as he ever was in this title. the only difference in his personality is when he is taling to nero, where he treats him like a kid and encourages him. this is most likely due to the fact that the story is meant to mostly follow nero in this one.

Well, that and the fact that Dante is at his most hammy in this game...which I found to be absolutely glorious.

Ham to Ham Combat.

I love all the DMC games. The only thing that tops its visceral action is prolly Ninja Gaiden (although NG can get a little cheap), IMO.

But let's not lie to ourselves now, all the DMC stories are horrible and the actual dialogue makes me cringe. I wish Capcom could hire a writer for this series that isn't halfway retarded.

Drizzitdude:
I'm sorry to argue this but Bayonetta was extreamly easy in every difficulty.

That's the point I'm trying to make. Devil May Cry 4 was such a walk in the park. In the other DMCs I had to master the combos and save up for delicious health potions. But In 4 all I had to do was repeatitly smack people with the devil bringer until they fell apart.

Drizzitdude:
As for the dante comment I think people really need to take a look at dante in all the other games

DMC1-3: *cutscene, dante and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

DMC4: *cutscene, dante (or nero) and boss exchange some witty banter, fight insues*

the point I am trying to make is tht dante is just the same as he ever was in this title. the only difference in his personality is when he is taling to nero, where he treats him like a kid and encourages him. this is most likely due to the fact that the story is meant to mostly follow nero in this one.

Now thats the dialogue formula. And if you haven't noticed thats the dialogue formula for every Capcom character in every Capcom game ever made; everybody does that, not just Dante. And I said Dante is more "bland" in DMC4 because
A. you don't see/spend enough time with him
B. he doesn't even seen as attached to Lady and Trish as he did in any of the other games. They don't talk to each other as much and they are almost non-existent in the game.
and C. there are times where I don't feel like he gives a shit about the kid at all. In DMC3 he and Virgil exchanged some humorful dialogue before they actually try to kill each other. In 4 Dante mostly just brushes Nero off like he's a annoying fly until literally the very end. He jumps from annoyance to (at least some)respect in 1 or 2 chapters and there aren't any heartfelt talks or fights inbetween.

Drizzitdude:
On another note, why the hate on Nero? He was very similar to dante in most respects so hating on him him is like hating on dante. The only real difference between dante in nero, as i mentioned before, is nero is supposed to come across as a more human character. He loves his girlfriend and is willing to anything to protect her, (including rage pwning half the order) Is that so bad?

I like Dante, opposed to anybody else in any game ever, because he's kinda an ass and he generally doesn't give a shit. In a grayish brown world where every other hero is a do-no-wrong-captain-america-esq-character Dante is someone who doesn't really care beyond the fact that he is good at killing demons and thats his good deed for the day life.

"is nero is supposed to come across as a more human character. He loves his girlfriend and is willing to anything to protect her"
And you just described one of the biggest plot engines that I have a problem with (besides amnesia). The problem is that I don't give a shit about his girlfriend. I would've let her fend for herself anyday.

Gizmo1990:

It may not make sense but the reason people hate on Nero is because he is NOT Dante. He my be similer in a lot of ways but fans do not want to play a DMC game and play as someone like Dante, They want Dante.

^This guy gets it.^

Flailing Escapist:
That's the point I'm trying to make. Devil May Cry 4 was such a walk in the park. In the other DMCs I had to master the combos and save up for delicious health potions. But In 4 all I had to do was repeatitly smack people with the devil bringer until they fell apart.

IF were being honest here then don't attempt to make such a brash generalization. If you beat DMC4 or even got halfway through the camapaign you realize full well that the devil bringer wasn't the easy button many critics make it out to be. Bosses and Golden Knight were immune to the devil bringer until you have practically killed them anyway. The Assault demons were terrible to use the buster on because you could easily be hit while swinging them around. This problem was also solved halfway through the game when you took control of dante.

Flailing Escapist:

A. you don't see/spend enough time with him
B. he doesn't even seen as attached to Lady and Trish as he did in any of the other games. They don't talk to each other as much and they are almost non-existent in the game.
and C. there are times where I don't feel like he gives a shit about the kid at all. In DMC3 he and Virgil exchanged some humorful dialogue before they actually try to kill each other. In 4 Dante mostly just brushes Nero off like he's a annoying fly until literally the very end. He jumps from annoyance to (at least some)respect in 1 or 2 chapters and there aren't any heartfelt talks or fights inbetween

A: you spent half the camapign following Dante and had more interaction with him when playing as Nero as well
B: Perhaps he doesn't seem attached to Lady or Trish because, they both appear breifly in cutscenes rather then being characters he constantly runs into during the campaign? On Another note Dante's attachment to ANY character is never obvious. More often than note he shrugs them off and only gives vague hints he gives a shit what they do untill he is forced to step in and help them. I don't know if you recall but in DMC3 he left lady to do whatever while surrounded by demons at least 3 times
C: Same as the above explanation. He treats Nero the same way. He acts like he doesn't care what he does but Dante helped him when he needed it and kept Nero going all while acting nonchalant about the whole thing.

Flailing Escapist:

And you just described one of the biggest plot engines that I have a problem with (besides amnesia). The problem is that I don't give a shit about his girlfriend. I would've let her fend for herself anyday.

It was a plot device, people mess with kyrie, Nero kicks their ass. It was what his motivation was through the story. Dante's motivation usually involves him helping out a pretty face or settling family matters. I am not going to judge Nero simply because he is not Dante. The game stayed true to it's formula and managed to get a new unique plot out of franchise with a solid story and a badass character besides Dante to move the story forward.

No one complained when you got to play as Vergil in DMC3. This case is very similar.

Drizzitdude:
No one complained when you got to play as Vergil in DMC3. This case is very similar.

No, no its not. It was your choice to be Vergil. And I honestly liked playing as Vergil more. He had summoned swords, 3 different weapons and that teleportation power.

Vergil kicks Nero's ass anyday.

aescuder:
I love all the DMC games. The only thing that tops its visceral action is prolly Ninja Gaiden (although NG can get a little cheap), IMO.

But let's not lie to ourselves now, all the DMC stories are horrible and the actual dialogue makes me cringe. I wish Capcom could hire a writer for this series that isn't halfway retarded.

DMC3 was fine, storywise. DMC1's story was barely noticeable until the end, DMC2's was the same but spiced with atrocious voice acting (that had none of the cheese-tastic charm of the original), and DMC4's was...a little more involved than it could actually carry, if you ask me. 3's story and setup was simple enough for its length to support, and its worst voice actor (Daniel Southworth as Vergil) was still hammy enough to be entertaining.

To me, at least.

 

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