I was asked months ago to review this game for an X-box review site, but never completed the game. If it is such a great game, then why is it that I struggled for so long to finish it? Devil May Cry 4 is Capcom’s latest in the line of “extreme combat” action games. For those that have followed the storyline up until now, there is a new protagonist named Nero that brings with him a “demon claw” to add to the over-the-top weapon combat that characterizes this line of games. Don’t worry, Dante is still around, and players get to play as both Nero and Dante throughout the 20 primary missions available in Devil May Cry 4.

What immediately caught my eye with Devil May Cry 4 is that there is a Direct X 10 version for the PC that obviously wasn’t available for the console systems. Cranked all the way to the full 1920×1200, the graphics in this game look pretty dang amazing; especially considering this game was released back in 2008. Two years is a long time in the world of technology. My Core2Duo and GTX275 were able to handle all the settings pumped to the max, although someone should let Capcom know that they need to lay off the bloom lightning effects a little. It makes certain areas of the game look washed out.

Our story starts with Nero attending a religious service. He isn’t happy to be present, but it is obvious that he is there to watch his beloved perform. Things don’t remain calm for long as Dante, the former hero from previous Devil May Cry games, comes crashing through the glass ceiling and assassinates the high priest. You immediately jump to his defense unknowingly choosing the wrong side. The first mission is a face-off between Nero and Dante, which lets you get acclimated with the controls.

For people that have played previous Devil May Cry games, Nero plays a lot like Dante. Armed with a pair of twin pistols, an over-sized sword, and crazy acrobatics, Nero can jump flip, dive, dodge, and do just about anything to keep the upper hand when facing off against a dozen demons. As you progress throughout these missions, you are rewarded with “tokens” that can be used to purchase new combos and abilities. Nero plays a lot better once you pick up the Dash and Split attacks. Combined with his demon claw for a Scorpion “get over here” type effect, you can chain combo enemy after enemy without taking any damage. To reward you for this, a meter pops up and keeps track of your winning streak for bonus points and tokens at the end of the mission.

Combat is a blast in Devil May Cry 4. Nero is clearly the most fun of the two characters to play mostly because I found his attack combos more fluid and natural on my X-Box controller. Dante’s lack of a demon claw meant that after some devastating combo, you had to run halfway across the room to start on your enemy again. With Nero, one quick tap of the button, and your enemy is pulled right back in front of you for a second beating. Dante though expands his arsenal as the game progresses. He comes with a shotgun on top of his twin pistols, but also as you complete later missions, he picks up the souls of various demons and in turn gets new guns and new swords, as well as a pretty cool hand-to-hand combat fighting style. All the same though, most of them were gimmicky, like the demon briefcase that transforms into projectile missiles, so I ended up using his sword for most of the missions as it was the most natural and well-rounded of the styles. I did enjoy jumping into the air a lot and using the twin pistols though as he does a pretty cool flip over the enemy and rains bullets down upon their heads.

So great graphics and wickedly fun combat, then why is this game so hard to complete? Simple, it is repetitious. While Capcom does a great job changing it up by giving you control of Dante for a while once Nero’s abilities become stale, it’s simple things like the combat music, which is the same song every single fight. What used to pump you up no longer gets you excited about fighting, and merely reminds you that there are more enemies on the loose to kill. Also, there are very few levels to actually explore. All of the levels that Nero completes, Dante visits in later missions. So while you may end up completing the map in a different manner, it feels like you’ve done all of it before. Not only that, in a classic move akin to older console games, every boss is rehashed in the last couple of missions in what seems like a lame attempt at adding more content for nothing. Fighting each boss again a second time isn’t even challenging with all the improved weapons and combat. It felt like going through the motions. Even the final encounter is the same high priest that you fought earlier in the game. You use the exact same tactics to defeat the exact same boss, except he has a few more graphical effects to make him look meaner, I suppose.

Capcom really does not hold your hand in this game, but will gladly insult you with a D grade for taking too long to complete missions. At least a half a dozen times I found myself in need of help because I was stuck or lost. There is nothing to prevent you from accidentally getting turned around and running all the way back to areas that were a part of previous missions. Likewise, after you’ve completed the first 10 missions or so, there are no new maps, just rehashed ones with new missions, so you always have that feeling as though you’ve been here before. I got lost a lot, and when I would type “stuck on mission 11 devil may cry 4” into Google, it would immediately come up with someone else stuck at the exact same spot with an answer given. Clearly Capcom could have spent a little more time in the play testing phase to iron out some of these obvious design problems.

Would I recommend this game? You bet you! If you can get it for less than $20 on Steam, it is worth a good 20 hours of game play, and despite the repetition, it is very fast-paced and enjoyable. Capcom has embedded the game with a ton of very well done Anime style cut scenes with enjoyable voice acting. What happens though is that after you beat the game, there is no desire to go back and play again on one of the harder modes that is unlocked, so the replayability of the game is pretty low. Also, once you have seen all the cut scenes, you start to skip them, which translate into annoying pauses and choppy gameplay. I’m not one to typically pickup a game that I’ve completed though, so at a buck an hour, Devil May Cry 4 was a good steal.

Graphics: B+ C+
Gameplay: C+
Story: B
Enjoyment: B-
Replayability: F