eightbitwarrior's Devil May Cry 4 (Xbox 360) review

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Captivating the very essence of boredom and excitement.

Capcom has finally dished out a helping of its smart-ass demon hunters to next generation platforms, this time following a fresh face with his own dark secrets. When you begin the game, you'll be treated to one of the most fantastically captivating cinematics you've ever seen, depicting Kyrie (new hero Nero's love interest in the game) singing a gripping ballad at the head of a church, while a tardy Nero races through an alleyway, slaying as many demons as possible on the way. The excellence on this front doesn't let up through-out the entire game, however, the same cannot be said of the gameplay itself.

During the opening scene of the game, you'll witness the leader of church give its members a speech about Sparda, the dark knight who they worship as their god and savior. No sooner than when he gets these words out, Dante crashes the party, killing the leader in the process. The game is quickly injected into a tale of revenge, and you are tasked with the duty of finding and killing Dante any way you can.

As you set off, long-time fans of the series will be pleased to know that practically nothing has changed, and you'll feel right at home. Herein lies the first problem though: it feels too much like home. You'll find that it can get a bit repetitive slashing the same few types of demons, especially after seeing the "area is being blocked by some red wall" cutscene for the 1000th time. That's not to say the combat is bad by any means, because it is still really solid, and is by most means better than other games in the genre.

Where the second most prominent issue lies is within the level design and game structure. Often times you'll be wandering around rather bland environments not quite sure what to do, or you'll find yourself backtracking far more than you'd ever want to. This becomes much more apparent as you are introduced to playing Dante at a point in the game, as you'll mostly only get to use him to backtrack through levels you've already completed with Nero. Were there some serious time constraints over at Capcom? Sometimes your destinations can be somewhat unclear as well, and you might find yourself wandering around for a good while before figuring out where you're supposed to go. I did, and trust me it's not very fun.

Speaking of Dante, he is far more fun and versatile to play than Nero. It makes you wonder why they didn't just create a story exclusively around him in the first place. Okay, to be fair, Dante is far too snarky to drive anything resembling a sensitive storyline, but that eludes the point. When playing Dante, you're treated to various different fighting styles and weapons selectable on the fly from both the d-pad and triggers respectively. When playing Nero, you're stuck with the one sword and one set of pistols, yet he has a few more tricks up his sleeve, including his Devil Bringer arm, which can grab enemies from afar and do all sorts of nasty melee moves to them. This can be very useful, but also feels a bit broken in some respects.

Probably the most fun to be had in the game, besides gawking at the incredibly choreographed cutscenes, is fighting bosses. It's a good thing too, because you'll be fighting the same ones over and over again. I did notice that the bosses were much easier with Dante however, because his arsenal of weapons and tricks far outweigh even the handy Devil Bringer that Nero packs. You'll fight various formidable foes (including the towering flame boss Berial as shown above), as well occasionally getting introduced to some humorous villains. It's worth noting that there are quite a few chuckles to be had during the pre-battle banters.

The visual presentation of the game is top notch as far as console action games go. You'll fight towering bosses and face dozens of enemies without seeing the game slow down from its solid 60 frames per second. It's all quite impressive to see pulled off, but you're not going to have an eye orgasm in result. As for the audio side of things, the voice actors do their job well to get you interested in matters at hand. I would like to point out though, that the way Kyrie is pronounced got on my nerves after a while (they pronounce it something like kitty-ay.)

Finishing the main storyline in the game will take you anywhere from around 8-10 hours to do, although it might feel longer due to the inhumane amount of backtracking and replaying you'll be forced into. There are some reasons to come back to the game, and again, fans of the series will know about what to expect here, being basically the same reasons as always. There are multiple unlockable difficulties including the infamous Heaven or Hell mode where all enemies and yourself die in one hit, there's the Bloody Palace, which basically acts as an extreme endurance test throwing waves of enemies at you, and of course there's the goal of raising your mission ranks and maxing out your characters weapons and abilities.

Speaking of which, I'd like to touch on the shop and upgrade system, because it pisses me off. After each mission, you may spend any red orbs you've earned within missions on items, and any proud souls you've recieved for completing missions on upgrades and abilities. The problem with all of this is attributed to the store's pricing model. You are shown supposedly the exact price for each item you can buy, but every time you buy something, the prices go up a seemingly random amount. This is incredibly annoying when it comes to getting abilities that have multiple stages, since when you buy one of them, the rest skyrocket in price, making you unable to purchase them. Why bother showing me how much they cost if I can't have them at that price. I know this is nothing new to the franchise, but why must this happen? The fact that this also applies to health and other recover items makes it even more sadistic. Obviously if the game is busting a person's balls, preventing them from recieving aid is not encouraging. To make matters worse, this price hike is irreversable.

I can't quite put my finger on what to think of this game. There were times that I seriously did not want to continue playing (due to the backtracking, level design and puzzles), and there were other times where I was having a blast (mostly when playing as Dante and executing "Smokin' Sick Style" combos). There are times when you don't quite understand what you're doing, and other times when you don't quite care because you're busting some skulls (and it feels so good). If you're a Devil May Cry fanatic, you should already own this game. For everyone else, give it a rent.

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