‘Devil May Cry 4’ (DMC4) sees Capcom shoring up a major franchise that had somewhat lost its way. Happily for fans, this forth outing brings enough to the table to make it a mouth watering proposition. Although with the emphasis on quantity rather than quality, stronger direction would have seen this collection of great gaming elements coalesce into a coherent whole.
"Capcom had to put-up or shut-up and deliver"
For those who haven’t been following closely, the first ‘DMC’ made a substantial splash in the primordial soup of the gaming pond. It impressed most pond-dwellers with its richly populated worlds and tight gameplay. Capcom’s considerable experience with action-adventure mechanics lent the game an instantly mature sensibility.
Unfortunately, subsequent releases were only able to meet this high water mark with stuttering success. ‘DMC2’ and ‘DMC3’ were both decidedly consigned to the bottom feeders of the gaming ecosystem. Whilst the franchise has somehow managed to emerge unscathed, it is well understood that sooner or later Capcom had to put-up or shut-up and deliver what they had danced around for some time: a proper sequel to their first ground breaking game.
To the game then. Although there are a few wobbles along the way, fans can breathe a sigh of relief. ‘DMC4’ is as close a return to the halcyon days of the first game as we could hope for. But it feels like you have to really want it to enjoy it. For example, you have to put in a substantial number of hours before you get your hands on Dante, the iconic hero, and poster child (man?) of the series.
With Dante initially sidelined, you start off with Nero. Not only does he bring a different aesthetic to proceedings, but also his bionically powered arm: the imaginatively named Devil Bringer. The execution is thankfully much better than the name suggests and really mixes up the action, even letting us hook shot across chasms (Bionic Commando anyone?). These powers are joined by the motorcycle theme Red Queen sword and the double barrelled pistol, Blue Rose. If all else fails he can break out Big Foot, a magically boot shaped kicking devise at the end of each leg (no wait – we just made that up).