As Devil May Cry 4 arrived in Europe, it brought a new character: Nero. Nero would appear familiar to those who’ve played any title in the series as he is Dante’s younger brother. He too being a son of Sparda, has the benefit of being a hardass demon slayer. Nero added a new feature that affects gameplay greatly; his Devil Bringer arm. It was quite a risk for the creators to change from the original character Dante as he proved so popular, but as fans will know 15 years on, it was not the last you would see of the enigmatic rogue.
Devil May Cry me a River
The game begins in a castle in Fortuna. An attempted assassination on the head of the Order of the Sword is carried out by Dante. As Nero, you begin on your quest with a fight against Dante. This Level acts as the Training Mission before you embark on your journey, but it does set the storyline at the same time. The fight comes to an end with neither winning, and Dante escapes. You then set on your mission to destroy demons that have appeared in the town and to track down the assassin Dante, to restore peace once again.
The story is full of twists and turns and as Nero you find yourself trapped half way through the game within a large Demon merged with your true love. It is now Dante’s turn to take the reigns and save the day. The direction of your quest now reverses and you must play backwards through the lands that you have travelled with Nero. Although the lands are the same as before the challenges faced are different and you are able to do different challenges with Dante. The game features twenty Levels in all, each drastically varying in length.
Devil May Cry 4 is Renovation, Not Reinvention
As is series tradition, the game is played in third-person view. The on-screen furniture includes the Exceed Gauge, Vitality Gauge, Red Orbs, Combo Meter and a Mini Map. The Exceed Gauge is for use with Nero only and is the charge for his sword. By revving it up you are able to save three strong attacks. It is a good idea to keep this charged so that when you enter a room you have full power.
The Vitality Gauge is your health. You are able to extend this by trading items. When you are injured you loose health but gain it again by collecting Green Orbs or using a Vitality Star. The Red Orb Counter keeps track of how many you have collected, and can be exchanged for additional items. The Combo Meter keeps track of how well your attack is going. Some statues in the game are there as a combo challenge. You must attack them and if the combo is high enough then you are awarded an item.
Orbs are items that can be collected during the game offering you different bonuses and power-ups. There are several different Orb items that you collect along the way which hold different powers. For example, Red Can be traded with Divinity Statues for new items, while Green adds vitality. Blue Orb Fragments – collected to make a whole Blue Orb – increase your Vitality Gauge. Gold allows you to continue the game from the point that you died, and Purple increases the maximum of the Devil Trigger Gauge.
There are also two stars that hold powers; the Vital Star restores vitality and comes in three different sizes, and the Devil Star which restores the Devil Trigger Gauge. Extra items to look for are Proud Souls and Holy water. Proud Souls can be offered to Divinity Statues to gain new abilities and Holy Water inflicts heavy damage on any enemies, which comes in handy when fighting demons that are more than ten times your size.
Devil Does as Devil’s Do
Does this all sound very familiar? It did 15 years ago, too. Devil May Cry 4 was largely about reshaping what was already there. It expanded on many elements of the series but did little to add new mechanics beyond the introduction of Nero. That being said, the spit-polish given to the combat gameplay was second-to-none.
The score and the sound effects work very well to add depth. The music plays louder and faster when you are in a fight scene. This definitely adds atmosphere to the game and almost makes you feel under more pressure. Graphically the game can not be faulted from cutscenes to the in-game play. Fight scenes are smooth with little slow down, even when there is lots of activity, and some of the landscapes are truly amazing. The character models are well rendered and the boss characters are filled with the imagination the series has been famed for.
Devil May Cry 4 did not break the mould. Progressing gameplay in the genre is left to the likes of God of War, Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom and the Dynasty Warriors series. However, the title did very well to compliment it forbearers. Fans of the series were knocked-out by the immaculately captured pacing between puzzles, combat and plot advancement. This is a game that will be remembered along with such hack-n’-slash classics as Streets Of Rage, Ninja Gaiden and the Onimusha series as it is so addictively playable. Even 15 years later, it’s hard to argue that Devil May Cry 4 doesn’t deliver a top-tier experience.