E For Effort – Devil May Cry 4

To my friends, I am known as a man of hatred. I tend to hate on a lot of fairly popular games for not advancing their respective genres in any meaningful way. My friends will all boast, “HOLY SHIT, GEARS OF WAR IS STELLAR,” yet I simply think, “Meh. It’s like Resident Evil 4 without the tension.”

So whenever I say I hate something, they usually expect that I find no redeeming qualities in the title. This isn’t the case for a few of my more recently disdained games. While I won’t talk about disliking Okami, I figured Devil May Cry 4 may be interesting to a few people.

I’m sure most people know about Devil May Cry (it only paved the way for Ninja Gaiden and God of War). A little series Capcom started while trying to make Resident Evil 4, Devil May Cry has become ingrained in gamer memory as the staple game of the action genre.

While Capcom hit a snag with 2 and nearly obliterated the first title with 3, the move to the HD era and the lack of console exclusivity had people worried that 4 may be lacking. That certainly wasn’t the case, even if 4 couldn’t touch the first game in terms of raw quality.

But, as much as my friends loved pummeling demons with Nero and Dante, I couldn’t help but feel bored and generally angry at what was going on. Why did Capcom copy and paste certain aspects of the gameplay? Why did Dante’s character radically change from previous entries? How come the final boss was a pushover?

I couldn’t understand the appeal, even if I knew the game was rock solid. It had extremely beautiful and flashy graphics, the voice overs were actually not bad for an English dub and the story had some actual emotion in it. Hell, even the combat was improved from previous games.

What I think was inherently wrong with the game was how Capcom divided the story between two characters. You spend the first 10 levels becoming acquainted with Nero and learning a brand new play style to the series (something reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden). I fell in love with how easy it was to knock enemies around, even if their AI couldn’t do a damn thing to stop me anyway.

When Dante finally comes into the mix, you learn that he’s now a pompous douche. While he always had an attitude, he is either in over-drive or woke up and had a full serving of Carnation “Instant Bitch”. Just listening to him is aggravating.

But the game goes back to the exact style of combat present in DMC3. While that game is great, why in the hell would I want to relearn something after playing a new character for close to 8 hours? Not only that, Dante doesn’t have any concrete combos. You just mash buttons like a madman and hope that enemies die.

Nero eventually comes back and, low and behold, you end up facing the previous bosses again. I think there are only 4 actual bosses in DMC4, but you end up facing them each about 6 times. The worst part of this game (level 19) has you on a Mario Party style board hitting a random dice and fighting off either waves of enemies or a boss (a boss you already beat, mind you).

The thing is Capcom always does this in their action games. Even Mega Man falls into this ploy in the Wily Stages (granted 10 does something neat with revisiting old bosses). I don’t mind if the guy is powered up, but when I’ve already taken him down twice, why should there be any reason to continue? The bastard should know that I’m just going to kick his ass again.

The levels in-between all these boss shenanigans don’t really fair much better. Nero has to backtrack a lot through environments to solve puzzles and place statues to open doors. As Dante, you essentially replay the entire Nero campaign with enemies that are even easier due to your constant upgrades from Nero. It just makes it feel like a bland action title.

But I digress; everything about this game is slick and entertaining. I managed to finish the game twice within a week, even with my constant hatred flowing. There is just something about how polished the combat is that makes you want to press on, or possibly how personal Nero�s story is (love does go a long way for narrative).

And like I said, the graphics were stellar back in 2008 (they actually still look fairly good). While graphics can’t save a game, DMC has always been based on stylish kills and frenetic combat. DMC4 doesn’t disappoint at all in this regard.

So while I hate DMC4, it definitely is a quality title. It gets an E for Effort from me, though I would be surprised if someone else felt the same way.