Those of you who have read my review of metroid prime 3 will note that I absolutely love hardcore games. Don't get me wrong, this game is not exclusively aimed at hardcore fanatics, but it is a herald back to the day when games challenged you, didn't throw infinite checkpoints at you, and did not have enemies who wait nicely while their companions take you on one by one. Welcome to DMC...
For those who aren't familiar with the premise of Devil may cry, back in 2001 ish, Capcom released the first instalment. It won critical acclaim worldwide and set the benchmark for 3rd person action adventures to come...and some might say it still has not been rivalled (except by number 3, which some might argue is the better :) So does number 4 hit the right path to beating it's predecessors? You bet...and it comes close to being one of the finest action adventures of it's genre.
For a spoiler free review, I'll give you the skeleton of the plot. You play (at least the first half of) the game as Nero, a member of a clan that hunts demons and prays to the legendary turncoat, 'sparda', who defected in the demon wars to help the humans and drive the demons back. The son of sparda (dante') for some reason decides to assassinate the leader of said clan, and it's up to you to track him down and find out what the hell his problem is.
The action is third person swordfighting and Gunplay, mixed with a healthy dose of puzzle solving and platforming. As always, the elements mesh beautifully, and never does the game become a chore or annoyance to play. Combat is as fluid as ever, allowing you to lock onto enemies of your choice, evade their attacks with dodges, use various gadgets like grappling hooks to bring them a little closer to the point, and switch simultaneously between gun and sword. The combos are satisfying and meaty, and Nero can fight on the ground or in the air. Not often do developers manage such a perfect balance of responsiveness and satisfaction.
Extra depth comes in that you are ranked on your combat for the diversity of your techniques (use the whole lot!) and going ages without being hit (harder than it sounds!). These ranks give you bonus goodies and scoring, and you'll keep coming back to try and top the XBL leaderboards, trust me!
The bosses as always, are hulking great demonic beasts that the underworld has given up trying to control, and fighting them is made absolutely sublime thanks to their challenging difficulty and tricky movesets. Practice is the order of the day, and I warn you, you will have to think about what you are doing.
Presentation and graphics are faultless, with smoother than 'greased baby skin' framerates, gorgeous fluid animations, high-res and detailed landscapes, and almost - real facial animations.
The sound and music is my favourite part though. All the music is picked perfectly, whether it be the spooky 'gothic' themes for the castle sections, or the adrenalin pumping boss/battle themes, every theme sets the atmosphere to a pinpoint perfection. The voice acting is perfect (intentionally cheesy!), and every sword and gun sound is so satisfying and packs real punch!
In all, this is an incredible effort on Capcom's behalf. It may not break it's mould, but those of you who know...if the DMC 1/3 mould wasn't broken, why fix it?! Instead, all other features are polished to a mirror finish and you are left with a challenging, engaging, ultra fun masterpiece.
+ A real challenge!
+ Adrenalin pumping boss fights.
+ Never-tiring combat.
+ Fluid and responsive controls.
+ Tight and impressive presentation.
+ An addictive and deep package with lots to do!
- Be prepared to have to practice if you are new to the DMC series.