Perhaps the best part about the combat system in DMC 4 however is its balance between complexity and simplicity. While it isn't likely the most feature rich fighting system out there in games like this, at the same time it's not so basic that mindless 'button mashing' will get you from start to finish with ease. Timing and even accuracy are both very key in DMC 4. Granted, there will be times where you'll simply pound the 'Y' button as fast as you can, but you can't rely on this method
to take down any of the game's more formidable foes - particularly the bosses, which by the way are definitely some of the best bosses seen yet. Once you do start to take on the more powerful baddies, the combat system's versatility really starts to flourish allowing for - if not demanding - a pretty large range of combo possibilities, even more so when using Dante and his different fighting stances. The game makes a point to emphasize impressive combos as well, with the trademark DMC 'hot
or cold' style overlay that lets you know how much ass you're kicking, not to mention point totals after each mission which you can upload to leaderboards on Xbox Live.
The gameplay isn't all combat, however. The 'stylish' fighting in DMC 4 is definitely the main event, but the game does attempt to introduce some variation by adopting a few puzzles here and there, which quite often involve combat in some shape or form. These puzzles range from harmless logical problems to deadly real time obstacles relying more on quick and precise movement than smarts, and while sometimes they can disturb the flow
add to the overall experience. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of random puzzles that seem somewhat unnecessary and awkwardly unrelated to the storyline, but it's not like the game is packed full of them - just a few here and there to spice things up a little.
Unfortunately though, the addition of puzzles doesn't completely prevent probably the only real issue with the gameplay from settling in, and that issue is repetition. Having some repetition in a game like this is basically unavoidable, but DMC 4 doesn't do itself any favors in a few keys areas either. Firstly, the enemies you face are all quite one dimensional, and even though they definitely get harder and more deadly as the game progresses, patterns almost always emerge and you find yourself
often doing the same moves and combos over and over again unless you really go out of your way not to. Even bosses are a little repetitive, as they almost always seem to involve the same fundamentals and patterns too. Furthermore, the environments you find yourself in are all quite repetitive as well, only changing significantly in a few instances. To make matters worse in this respect, you're quite often forced to back track to areas you've already been in, often even doing actions you've already done.
At times, I can't help but feel Capcom got a little lazy when designing the game's environments structure and layout wise.
I guess, though, they at least look great. In fact, the whole game looks great, from the individual characters to the special effects and silky smooth animations particularly, as mentioned, during combat. There may not be a whole lot of surrounding detail as such but there really isn't a point in the game where the graphics aren't impressive, and all this is done at a sweet 60 frames per second. Also adding to the aesthetics is a pretty typical anime style soundtrack, which you kind of don't even notice a
lot of the times, but if anything that's probably a good thing. Control wise, the button mapping works well although camera control can be a bit of a hassle at times. You can sometimes modify the camera in game with the right analog stick, but this isn't always the case and occasionally sudden changes in camera will interfere with your movement and line of sight - in fact, it isn't unusual to know an enemy is coming by the change of music before you actually see them.
Devil May Cry 4 is not an overly innovative title but it is fun, addictive, and definitely worthy of the DMC series. I guess you can basically sum it up as "it is what it is" - a hack n slash action title and not a whole lot else. Introducing a few new characters including a new protagonist in Nero was a bit of a risk, but it has paid off and injected some new life into the series, even if it's only for this one version. While some areas like the level design and gameplay
variation aren't as impressive as they could have been, ultimately Capcom have achieved what they set out to do with DMC 4 and that's more than enough to guarantee some great action gaming. Better yet, even if you've never played a DMC title before, DMC 4 will still be easy to pick up and play thanks to its largely independent storyline, basically making it a great starting point for new comers, but at the same time an intriguing addition to the series for fans.
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