Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition Review
Devil May Cry 4 first appeared seven years ago as one of many sequels in a very successful old guard of the Devil May Cry franchise. When handling the special edition remaster of DMC4 Capcom have stuck with the game’s format as it stood before the alterations made by the DMC reboot a couple of years ago. Very few of those popular changes have been included in DMC4SE. Fans of the series will all know what to expect; a hack and slack fest with a spray tan story that serves as a very slight excuse to slay group after group of precisely staged demons in ever more vertical and stylish ways. It’s all the classic combat system, and the classic mission layout here. You mostly play as Nero, a knight of the impressively titled Order of the Sword. He embarks on lengthy mission to find out why a powerful and mysterious assassin gatecrashed a religious ceremony that Nero cared little about and killed a religious leader he didn’t know from Adam. Mush be personal then.
As Nero I found myself playing as a character who felt like a Dante reskin but with certain nuance changes. He certainly had the arrogance and moves of a Dante. I could see that right away as in the first mission I was fighting Dante himself. He has the standard hand cannon sword combination but also wields a demonic arm called Death Bringer that allows him to perform certain special moves. You can grab enemies from afar or throw them as the arm changes shape. I also liked the grapple hook ability that the arm unlocks in later missions. These moves are all upgradable by a pretty standard ability point system. I found that it does add a little variety to the repetitive combat system that I associate with DMC but it doesn’t do enough. It is still the slash, slash, slash pause slash fest that is fun for a while and then as your consciousness slowly crawls in that slumber of repeating the same action over and over again, you hit the close application button. This is not so much a criticism of this remaster as it is of the now very old looking DMC4 from nearly a decade ago. It’s a game from a bygone era in gaming and unless you’re a super fan or a glutton for punishment you will not enjoy this exercise in combo mashing. Firing up this remaster is like visiting a gaming museum but without the free rose tinted spectacles that a few more years since release would have afforded it.
At least this time around you have added the ability to play as three new characters. I found that to be a good reason to remaster the game and I don’t normally find such wholesale additions. You have Dante as the original demon hunter extraordinaire. Then there is the aforementioned Nero; protagonist of Devil May Cry 4. There’s also Trish, someone descriptively named Lady. and Dante’s brother Vergil. If only these character additions were enough to save me from the monotony of the combat system, or the boring linear environments, or the retracing your steps every five minutes, or the fact that I could less whether Nero lived or died. I found that sadly not to be the case. Add in the fact that playing as Dante is merely an exercise in repeating Nero’s missions as you follow him locked door for locked door. Then consider that essentially Nero and Dante are ridiculously similar to play as and you have the perfect recipe for the most forgettable DMC of the entire series to now have the most forgettable remake of the entire DMC series. Saying that, I actually found Trish, Lady, and Virgil worth trying. I mean they are lumped into the game with a very shallow attempt to bed them into any kind of story but given the paper thing storyline anyway I wasn’t that upset. They’re a bit different and interesting and I found that unlike Nero or Dante you have to vary your style to play as them successfully. There are additional difficulties for each of the characters for the really committed and the combat at the higher levels require a hefty amount of skill but finding yourself invested enough to get that far probably has the highest difficulty.
Often remasters update just the graphics and leave everything else untouched. DMC4SE is playable in 1080p at 60 frames per second as I would expect. Few types of game benefit more from top of the line responsive visuals than an action hack and slash game. When juggling an enemy and trying to string together a chain of stylish moves I didn’t see any slow down or stutter. I found the action snappy and responsive and regardless of whether it was a basic environment render or a giant boss character engulfed in a sea of flames the game held steady at a jitter free framerate. Throw in a group of demon enemies and still I was happy with how it played. And this is with the updated visuals and textures that look clean and shiny if not beautiful. I found the visuals pleasing on the eye but my jaw firmly remained without drop. It is a technical feat and another sign of the increased firepower of the hardware inside the current generation consoles. I should however mention the shoddy camera. What a horrible reminder of what games used to be like in the good old days. Devil May Cry 4 SE’s camera flat out destroys whatever was there to experience in the first place. It’s not like modern games are perfect in camera issues. Take Batman Arkham Knight’s lack of actually knowing who Batman will punch off screen most of the time as an example. The camera in DMC4SE is slow, unresponsive, and has the lowest field of view imaginable. Growing up I accepted the camera colliding with the environment, or disappearing inside a character to show me a close up of their eyeballs. It was funny and a sign that designing games was still a juvenile imprecise science. People were still trying things that didn’t always work out and a bad camera system was more common in gaming than micro transactions are now. Having to deal with these issues now is just a deal breaker.
Ultimately DMC4 was a strange choice to remaster. It is a relic of what a good game looked like seven years ago. Judging it by today’s standards as I must, I simply can’t recommend it to anyone aside from massive fans of the series who want a nostalgia hit. If you enjoyed DMC4 in the past you’ll love the updated visuals, fluid frame rate, and additional characters to try out in a familiar environment. If you didn’t you’ll find everything I disliked about the game waiting for you to deal with.
Slick, fluid, 60FPS action
3 new characters to try out
Forgettable main character and a forgettable story
Camera system from the dark ages of gaming