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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Devil May Cry 4 - Review

So my friend lent me his copy of DMC4 for the PC. I know this game's been out for a while but still, he somehow got me into it.

Devil May Cry 4 is about a guy named Nero with white hair a black coat and red shirt, NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH DANTE who is a guy with white hair a red coat and a black shirt and a 5 o'clock shadow. Oooooooh the characteristic changes...

Character-wise, Capcom really made a bad decision. It feels like they tried to make an alternate Dante and fell asleep half-way through resulting in Nero. Dante is just filled with bad-assery. His reactions and his overall attitude is something I always smile at whenever there's a cut scene with him. Nero, seems to be this Devil May Cry 3 version of Dante with too much emotion in him. I'm just gonna say it, as if it isn't obvious already. Nero is in love with Kyrie, and so his cool, indifferent attitude is always broken with the mention of Kyrie. I don't think there's something wrong with it, just the way they developed Nero as a character seems so half-assed. I was kind of expecting Nero to keep his cool attitude and follow Kyrie when she's in trouble, but he breaks down too often showing a really weak character.

Sure, you can say that it's his "deep love" for her that makes him so emotional, but... oh right... we're not making another Dante here, sorry. It's just that they look more or less the same.

In another aspect however, the way they portrayed the story was very well done and probably one of the best. The action is ALWAYS enjoyable and helps you get pumped up for rights. Some of the scenes, I just don't get, but that's okay. Despite my issues with Nero and his major character flaws, I can't help but enjoy the way Capcom portrayed the story. So now that they have a good director, perhaps we can get a new script/storyboard writer? The story was average despite it's good directing. It's about a guy, who pretends not to care about a girl he loves, living in a town that worships Sparda as god. Blah blah really doing evil stuff for "greater good"....mumble...snort... Kyrie get's used for something evil....garble... generic trash...Nero must fight pope... Nero finds his "true purpose".....

Gameplay has been cleaned up which is something I thoroughly enjoyed. My main issue with Devil May Cry 3 was that despite showing just exactly how superior the sword was to the guns, they didn't do anything about it. You still got very simple hack and slash capabilities that didn't help the feel of the game. Devil May Cry 4 however, gives you a very advanced melee system that seems simple at first but requires a good amount of playtime to understand its complexity.

Nero's buster arm in particular makes the game much more fun. First, you have his melee combos that you can break off at any point assuming your timing is good enough. So you can link combos really well and while it seems hard to get used to at first but the timing will get easier later (or you can just push the "I give up button) and switch to ..... "automatic mode"). Next, let's say you kinda threw the enemy too far, NO PROBLEM. Just use your buster hand's snatch ability to throw the enemy back to yourself for another fun combo. You can also counter many moves with the Buster arm (I mean Devil Bringer but that's too long and convoluted...). A cool addition that they have are special cinematic combat scenes you can pull off if you use the Buster at the right time. It's similar to the event triangle buttons in Kingdom Hearts 2 except they don't hold your hand. You need to figure it out yourself. Finally, Nero has the Exceed Gauge, or EX. Apparently in the in the um.... I don't know. The game's timeline in comparison to their technology makes no sense.

So, it looks like the 20s with really old cars but then you have custom, semi-auto pistols and rocket launchers... and the Queen's Blade... Let me explain the queen's blade a bit and YES, this is relevant to Exceed. Apparently these swords have the abilities to be... revved up... like a motorcycle, and thus bringing out more power from them. Considering the hilt is so compact it seems to not make sense.... anyways that's what the Exceed Gauge is based on. There are two ways to rev up your blade, the first being to do it manually, which takes time and isn't worth it. The second is by revving immediately after an attack which gives you one gauge (with a total of 3). Now, unless you S-rank missions on your first play through, the game really doesn't accommodate the full use of the Exceed gauge. Because if you gain access to higher level exceed techniques you need to manually rev the blade, which becomes a hassle. There is an ability however to max rev your exceed gauges after an attack which makes the game much more fun and much more complex. Let me just put this into perspective and combine all the melee elements Nero has to put this into perspective.

You can go around hacking and slashing enemies with your own combos that all require timing and some requiring delays. You can break off mid-combo to toss them into the air. Air combo them a bit, then they start to fall while you're still in mid-air. That can't do. Use Buster's snatch ability to toss them back to you for another combo but alas you have killed the enemy. Well, snatch another enemy while still in mid-air and so on and so forth. Now let's add exceed.

After the first hit, you exceed, pause so that the game recognizes you're done with the combo. Use a special move that uses the exceed gauge and observe the fiery death you have dealt, exceed at the end to keep your gauge up. Toss a couple fiery revolutions into the air and exceed after every hit in an air combo killing your enemy. Snatch another enemy while in mid-air and run him down into the ground with a fiery explosion thanks to exceed which has just made a small crater and given you more open space...oh yeah exceed after that. Mastering exceed is one of the hardest concepts in the game, but once you understand how to exceed really well, your sword deals more significant damage and will save you Legendary Devil Knight Mode (I'll talk about that later).

After playing Nero, Dante's style get's very confusing. Since you have lost the buster ability, you're going to have to rely on actually going to an enemy or let them come to you. In addition, you need to practice switching styles very well to fully utilize Dante's abilities. From what I've seen, Dante deals significantly more damage in general than Nero (at least, it seems like it) and his moves seem to focus more on switching a lot. What does that mean? Well, in Devil May Cry 4, Dante, by the end, carries 3 different guns (though I ended up using just one) and 3 different melee weapons. While each weapon is developed in combos a bit, the real beauty to Dante is switching weapons and linking multiple combos. For example. You take his Gilgamesh (gauntlets and greaves) and pull off a ridiculous uppercut dealing tons of damage, then switch off to either Lucifer (makes exploding swords appear) or Rebellion and then air-combo and then decide on another weapon for the finish. The game's been designed for this as everything can change instantly. While in actual practice you may only use 2 or 3 styles, utilizing all the styles along with the weapons really gives Dante an interesting edge.

So what is Legendary Devil Knight Mode? Devil May Cry 4 like the other DMC games have harder difficulties after the first playthrough giving you replay value. The PC version however has it's own exclusive difficulty past Dante Must Die mode known as Legendary Devil Knight Mode (I'm shortening this to LDK). LDK Mode has an advanced A.I and but what's most noticeable about it are the enemies. Or rather, the existence of 3 times MORE ENEMIES than any other difficulty... at the same time. This is a mode that really puts your crowd clearing abilities to the test. Needless to say, it's better to run through this after your second or third play through. However, this is also the most fun I've ever had in Devil May Cry. It isn't ridiculous like Heaven or Hell mode (where you die in one hit) nor like Dante Must Die (where they Devil trigger). It's just pure deathfest with a lot of guys.

What bothers me about Legendary Devil Knight mode is how it amplifies all of the game's BAD parts so that they're more noticeable. More specifically, the existence of so many more ground combos but the lack of need for them. Since air-comboing is one of the only ways to keep up some decent damage without getting hit and thus keeping your style gauge up, initiating those convoluted ground combos really opens up your weak spots and gets you killed faster. Thus, I've spent a lot of the game floating in mid air instead of utilizing crowd control moves (except for maybe streak) or stylish combos simply because I want to keep my rank up and I don't want to die.

As a final comment, play Devil May Cry 4 for the gameplay, not it's story. While the graphics are amazing, Capcom doesn't really use it's full potential and give us a story to match. I kinda wish someone in the script department would be fired. A lot of Resident Evil games have suffered because of these guys. Though apparently Devil May Cry 4 was created by the same team who made Resident Evil 4. So in some aspects in makes a bit of sense (see napoleon and the ending) and in another sense it leaves me confused (see the rest of RE4 for the Wii or PS2).

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