After getting some quality time with Capcom’s newest entry into the Devil May Cry universe, I began to feel right at home. This comes as a big relief to me: a number of significant changes have occurred with this the fourth installment and it makes me happy to see that the heart and soul of the title still remains intact. Even with a new main character, complete with new abilities and play-style, veterans won’t take more than a few minutes to reacquaint themselves with the delicate balance of button-mashing and combo chaining.
I was worried about Nero taking over, even considering how closely he resembles our dear Dante. A relieved chuckle escaped my lips after hearing Nero’s witty one-liner preceding the Berial fight (“I never tan,” classic), and it dawned on me that Nero is such a close facsimile of Dante that I don’t even need to get to know this new guy: I can just tag this new chapter onto the end of Dante’s ever-dramatic story and continue enjoying my time spent. While I don’t expect everyone to treat young Nero the same way, I could see this detracting from the future of such a bright young star and forcing the full-time return of Dante. Even his brother Virgil bore a striking resemblance, but at least his dialogue differed enough to make me care about him as a character.
Character development aside, playing Nero also feels remarkably similar to Dante. The sword and gun attacks are similar, as are their multi-press combos, but the main (unsurprising) difference is Nero’s Devil Bringer. Instead of releasing a special power from the weapon being used, the Devil Bringer has a number of uses in and out of combat.
While in combat, the Devil Bringer allows characters to grapple and throw enemies. How the throw works is dependent on the enemy, since this standard attack works differently against boss Berial than it does the usual level trash. A secondary function, unlocked part-way through the level, allows Nero to grab an enemy for afar and pull them to him. This grants players a great way to chain combos together, or simply bring the fight a little closer to home.
This secondary Devil Bringer ability is used out of combat as well, as a platforming mechanic. Small sigils on the ground connect via the Devil Bringer to other areas (think hook-shot) for one- or two-way transit. It’s a mundane-yet-welcome addition to the game’s platforming that I can only hope is expanded in the full title.
Gunplay and swordplay haven’t changed much, though Nero’s sword has an interesting modification that allows it to rev similarly to a motorcycle throttle. Proper use of the left trigger allows the player to store a charge in the sword that is unleashed during the next attack to great effect, but charging the sword mid-combat is a bit unwieldy since it limits your mobility. I found it useful against Berial and nowhere else.
Graphically, the demo unfolds like all current gen titles should, and I was happy with how close Capcom stood to the past titles. You could see the gothic impressions left upon the game’s artists in the settings, while the enemies carried the same air of insanity and disease. Players with HDTVs and their counterparts waiting to make the upgrade from SD will equally enjoy the visuals, though there isn’t much to write home about.
Veterans: don’t be alarmed that someone new has taken over the franchise, or that you’re (possibly) playing it on a new console with a foreign controller, because the game simply enhances everything you’ve come to enjoy. Newbs: there’s plenty to learn, but none of it is necessary if you simply wish to have a good time killing demons and hell-spawn.
Oh, and as a side note, there’s really no difference between the two versions. Stop asking.