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Devil May Cry 4 Hands-on and Impressions
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:03pm 14/08/07 | Comments
AusGamers revs up the netherworld in the latest instalment in Capcom's Devil May Cry series

Devil May Cry 4
AusGamers reader, meet Nero. No, not the burning ROM you’ve been using to back up your sordid files from your hard drive all this time, I’m talking about the new protagonist in the long-running Devil May Cry series. Now, fans of the series may themselves cry at the departure of the ever-lovable Dante, but never fear he isn’t all gone, and besides, Nero has some pretty cool moves and abilities of his own. That isn’t to say the series has seen a complete overhaul though, in fact quite the opposite. But this is the DMC series, and as far as I can tell it’s never really needed anything overly innovative added to its fray beyond the odd camera tweak here or a new juggling move addition there, to maintain itself. So the shift to a new main character (and his unique move-set) is indeed the big news here, and while from a gameplay perspective, it actually isn’t all that big a revelation, for fans of the series it can either bode really well, or terribly bad.

Thankfully, the latter doesn’t really apply (at least in my view) and the tried and tested gameplay we’ve come to expect (and love) from this series is still well and truly in place. Nero is a cool cat, just like Dante was, and he has a few new tricks up his sleeve, to boot. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration actually; they’re not up his sleeve so much as they’re slung over his back and shoulder. One of the first new tools I came across was Nero’s massive sword, the “Red Queen” which also happens to have a motorbike accelerator built into its handle – a few well timed presses of the L2 button means you can rev the sword up to maximum power and unleash a hella powerful initial attack giving you the edge over all the undead beasties you’ll be taking on throughout the game.

Devil May Cry 4
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nero’s Devil Bringer arm gives him ultimate power, it serves as something of an early attack that doesn’t hinder using either the Red Queen or his pistol (more on this shortly) and as combos have always been a staple of the series, the length and diversity of them has seen significant improvement here. You can use the arm to lay a quick uppercut into your move-set which launches the baddies skyward, or you can use it ala Mr Fantastic, to grab them from across the battle area and drag them in for a good pounding. Juggling demons has never felt so good and the management of Nero’s Devil Bringer definitely adds new flavour to the system. Like Dante, however, our new protagonist also has small arms to utilise beyond his powerful sword and equally powerful arm. He also has the “Blue Rose” in his arsenal - a double barrel pistol that easily lays waste to the hellish trash you’ll be taking on.

So why the new character though? According to Capcom, a religious organisation calling themselves the Order of the Sword formed in the wake of the Dark Knight Sparda’s one-man war against evil thousands of years ago. Nero himself is a member of this organisation and has quickly risen through the ranks, but upon witnessing the Order’s former hero, Dante, seemingly go crazy and slaughter huge numbers of the Holy Knights of the order, he must act quickly and get to the bottom of this treachery.

It all sounds fairly tacky, which is exactly the way we like it and the style and flair we’ve come to expect from the series, as a result, is completely intact here. What makes it even more enticing though, is the new scope and size of the game’s environments. Obviously the shift from usual PS2 development to PS3 has given the game an entirely fresh new look, but it has also made the game-world far more robust – it’s not all aesthetic, either.

Devil May Cry 4
Most of the locations lend themselves to various types of demons you’ll meet. For example, ending up in a snowy mountain peak saw me battling the Ice Demons from the first game, so you can imagine the game’s locational shifts are going to reward you with various types of Devil Bringer-fodder – bring on the lava stages I say. On top of having a more fleshed-out game-world, the visuals and effects used throughout have also taken a major leap. It’s not nearly as pretty as say the trailer for Resident Evil 5, but it’s at least a good start and you get the sense Capcom have managed to get their head around the allegedly difficult-to-master PS3 hardware. It’s all still very arcade-esque though, so don’t think you’re going to be walking up to normal mapped textures everywhere you go, and as the game is built around so much destruction, you’re always faced with blander looking buildings and what have you, purely for the fact you’re more than likely about to tear them down anyway.

Devil May Cry 4
The end of the demo I played saw me facing off against a huge boss, further cementing familiarity in the title. Alongside Nintendo, Capcom are one of gaming’s foremost boss bringers, and the DMC series has always delivered. This guy looked like he’d just stepped out of a Lord of the Rings casting call with Peter Jackson, but didn’t get the part – so naturally he was going to take it out on me. As forward gaming suggests, my accrued abilities and power at this point should be just enough to take him down as long as I can pick the pattern, and voila, off he goes to whatever afterlife the undead have t endure for being evil and sucking at it.

All jokes aside though, Devil May Cry 4 is shaping up to be a pretty cool gaming journey for fans of the series, and we’ve been told that, while his actions bring about the set-up for the game, at some point we’ll be able to get in control of Dante to give us a break from the upstart Nero. Apparently there are also plans to release a payable demo of the game via XBLM, and there is also talk of the same demo heading to the PlayStation Network (though nothing has been solidly confirmed as of yet). Devil May Cry 4 is due out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC later this year and as soon as Capcom gives us a solid date, we’ll let you know – for now, click here to see the game in action.