When it comes to arcadey hack and slash action titles with a Japanese anime influence, few do it better than iconic publisher/developer Capcom, and their premier game brand fitting this description has to be Devil May Cry. This series became a world wide hit for both console and PC gamers, but as it would happen, Capcom never got around to
2006. With Microsoft's focus on capturing Japanese developer attention for the Xbox 360 however, the timing was right for Capcom to jump aboard the Xbox train with the first 'next gen' DMC, and they have done just that with the recently released Devil May Cry 4.
If you have played a DMC title before, you won't be overly surprised when you fire up DMC 4 as the premise and design is basically unchanged. What we have here is a single player only game with a very arcade feel in everything from the "Press Start" intro screen to the actual gameplay itself. Unlike the previous titles in the series though, DMC 4 introduces a new main character by the name of 'Nero' who is voiced by John Jay Bosch (Ichigo's voice in Bleach), not to mention
various other new characters integral to the storyline. Nero, like the previous protagonist 'Dante', has the power of the demon 'Sparda' within, shown on the outside by his demon like right arm. This right arm of Nero's forms a significant part of the game's combat system, known as the 'Devil Bringer', although he of course also carries a sword and a handgun, as is the trademark of the DMC series. Similar to the more recent additions in the series however, DMC 4 doesn't just feature one
playable character for the entire game. Dante is also included in the game's storyline and is a playable character for seven of the twenty total missions. While Dante of course doesn't have the 'Devil Bringer' abilities, he does feature a more advanced combination of different fighting stances which you can switch between at any given moment during combat, and is actually probably still the more complete fighter between the two.
Being a single player only game, DMC 4 obviously relies heavily on its storyline to hook you in and keep you going from start to finish, and it effectively achieves this with a very traditional good vs bad tale with appearances from cliche elements like 'female in distress' and 'opponents forming together against a common enemy' etc. The story definitely has a very anime feel, and is largely played out via cut scenes rendered in the game engine (proven by the fact you can make slight changes
to the camera angle with the right analog stick, which is an odd feature). There are plenty of twists and turns along the way as well and you could never accuse the game of growing dull, that's for sure. However, one thing you could accuse the game of is perhaps relying on the cut scenes a little too much. There is basically no character interaction at all during gameplay, unless you consider fighting to be interaction. Just about everything storyline related is played out in the cut scenes, and while this
isn't exactly a terrible thing, at times the gameplay can feel detached, as if the primary focus was the cut scenes with some gameplay thrown in between, rather than the other way around.
But that's not to diminish the gameplay in anyway, after all, the DMC series is really all about fun and action and DMC 4 is no exception. When you're not running around and collecting items in this game you'll be fighting, and lets just say you don't spend a whole lot of time doing the former. The whole point of the game is action, action and more action, and in that regard DMC 4 doesn't fall short. While the fights can occasionally feel a little formularized in the manner they are presented
- i.e., mostly via waves of multiple enemies at once - at least this way the game can really show off its impressive combat system, and it is quite impressive indeed. The animations and physics involved are all so smooth and seamless, at times it really does feel you're just sitting back and watching an anime fight scene. To help prevent the combat going stale, both Nero and Dante have a series of unlockable moves and abilities across all their weapons which you can purchase yourself from certain upgrade points
in the game.
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