|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 5, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
This fourth entry in the stylish demon-slaying series is an especially significant one; the revered franchise is not only making its next-gen debut, but it's also, for the first time, rubbing elbows with Master Chief and Marcus Fenix on the Xbox 360.
A few years back you would've been more likely to spot Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell in an affectionate embrace than see this once Sony exclusive series appearing on Microsoft's hardware. But, like Leon Kennedy and Solid Snake before him, Dante has defected. While Sony fanboys might disagree, this is a good thing for both gamers and Capcom, as a whole new legion of players can experience this slick sword-and-sidearm series.
But enough about the decline of third-party exclusives; that's a discussion for another day. This is Dante's day. Or is it? It would appear that the franchise's favorite demon-slayer is taking a back seat to a brand new antihero. That's right; the white-haired, smack-talkin' pretty boy is now sharing the spotlight with the similarly coifed and cocky Nero. Before you Dante-lovin', flamewar-instigating fans run to the message boards in protest, understand that your knight in long red leather is still playable for nearly 50% of the campaign and has a significant role in DMC4's story. In fact, he immediately--and impressively--struts his stuff in the game's cinematic opening. We won't spoil it for you, but an assassination of a high profile holy man, preceded by lots of shattered glass combine to make Dante's entrance a memorable one.
The eye-catching opening, which sets up the story and introduces the dynamic between Dante and Nero, quickly gives way to the player controlling the fresh-faced protagonist. Newcomers to the series won't know the difference and will likely see the two characters as one in the same; they look nearly identical, have similar personalities and sport different, but equally super-slick fighting styles. Of course, if you've been dancing with the devil since the original game then you'll, no doubt, miss Dante at first, but will quickly adjust to the new hell hunter on the block. Nero is younger and therefore comes off a bit more angsty than cool, but despite his potential to annoy as an emo goth, he remains a likeable and welcome addition to the series. It's actually plausible to imagine him as a younger, less jaded Dante, a bit naive and more sincere than sarcastic.
But hey, this is Devil May Cry, not a personality analysis, so let's get to the goods: is he as proficient as Dante at beating back the hounds of hell? Well, despite a different style--that veterans will need some time to get used to --,Nero more than holds his own in the death-dealing department. Like Dante, he relies on swords and side arms, but he's also got a nasty little trick up his sleeve, literally. His right arm, dubbed the Devil Bringer, is an invaluable asset in his arsenal that works wonders for both fighting and platforming. Its ability to be used as a grappling-like device gets him to hard to reach areas, and its strengths in battle include grabbing enemies, slamming them into objects, and delivering deep impact punches. Visually, it puts on quite a show during fights, sporting different animations depending on which type of enemy Nero's disposing of. Take on a lance-wielding knight and Nero's ass-kicking appendage will grab the lance and repeatedly drive it through the knight's midsection. Equally pleasing to the eye is the arm's ability to grab a winged beastie from the air and swing it around by its tail. The Devil Bringer is an absolute blast, and one of the cooler weapons this genre has seen since Kratos' Blades of Chaos.
Nero's demon arm alone can often get the job done, but you'll want to incorporate his Red Queen and Blue Rose (even the names are cool!) as well to unleash some devastating combos. The former is his oversized sword that actually has a motorcycle-like throttle control capable of revving up his attacks, and the latter is his double-barreled pistol that can also be upgraded for maximum punishment. As with previous DMC titles, the fun in the fight comes from stringing together over-the-top stylized combos, and these three weapons offer that opportunity in spades. With a few simple button presses he'll fire off a few rounds, jump through the air, sword swinging, and maybe finish up by thrusting his possessed arm into the skull of a nearby hell dweller. Players will continually enhance their abilities by learning new combos, earning different weapons and generally becoming bigger "badasses" by spending collected orbs on upgrades.