Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4 opens with such a barrage of cool that you alternate between laughing out loud at the overblown silliness of it all, staring in disbelief and being genuinely wowed. This is entertainment.
The initial infatuation blows over fast, though. What you’re left with is decidedly last-gen design coupled with very high resolution textures, detailed models and a smooth framerate. I’m not going to say “graphics”, because the overall aesthetic is not very inspired. It reminds me a lot of Ninja Gaiden, except without the visual imagination that title sported. Not that there aren’t outstanding moments in the mix: some of the cutscenes and boss battles are awesome.
The game is an old-school action adventure. You find your way through the levels and fight a lot of enemies with gun and sword (mostly sword). The fighting is deep and rewarding, although not to the standards of Ninja Gaiden. I have not tried the higher difficulty setting, though, and I have a feeling it might get a lot more interesting. The enemies are too repetitive, but on the other hand the game is more about managing your repertoire of moves to make the fighting as varied as you can, boosting your “style” meter. It can be spectacular and gaining new moves is always a pleasure.
The game is let down by constant camera trouble. It isn’t too bad, but disappointing, with a confusing mix of freely maneuverable camera, fixed locations and suddenly switching viewpoints. It can get disorienting. Another problem is the dreadful plot and ridiculous characters. I thought Ninja Gaiden was bad, but Devil May Cry really outdoes it. It’s somewhat alleviated by humour, though: the game knows it’s juvenile and admits it. That isn’t quite enough to stop me from cringing. Add repetitive, bad music, and you get the feeling that the series would do well to keep the central fighting and rethink its overall approach before the next instalment. It’s solid entertainment and I’m probably going to complete it, but I was expecting more from Capcom.