In a day and age when it seems like every second game being released is a reboot of a classic game, it’s kind of refreshing to see the release of a special, remastered edition of a fairly recent game. Initially released seven years ago, DMC4 took the already absurd action series to further absurd heights with constant, frenetic combat, massive unforgiving bosses and a protagonist that veered wildly in personality from nihilistic angel of fury to goofy teenager yet could always remain hilariously unimpressed by demons, no matter how large or deadly.
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition is a pretty spectacular game. The well optimised engine can deliver crisp 1080p, 60 frame per second silliness on moderate hardware and rarely show a dip in performance no matter how many enemies clutter the screen, and believe us, there will be a lot of enemies on screen, especially during later levels. Technically the game is a triumph, but seven years on from the initial release the weaknesses of the original design are rather glaring. The demon-armed, emo git hero, Nero fights his way through combat arena after combat arena in flashy but ultimately kind of hollow style, stopping every now and then to pick up and experiment with a new weapon, solve a simple puzzle or interact with one of hte over-thetop NPCs. Then you do it again. More combat arenas, more simple puzzles, more silly conversations. Once you’re done with Nero, it’s time to do the same thing all over again with original Devil May Cry hero Dante.
As spectacular as the combat looks it’s more fatiguing than engrossing. Things are constantly happening on screen in an explosion of colours and… explosions, but the lustre of the spectacle wears off fairly quickly. The spectacle of 2008 feels dated. That said, there is some fun to be had experimenting with the combat styles of the three new characters added to the Special Edition – Lady, Trish and Vergil. Lady is especially interesting because unlike all the other characters she focuses on ranged attacks as her primary way of taking out demons, rather than the melee approach of the others. Luckily these characters are available from the beginning because unless you’re a hardcore fan of DMC you probably won’t want to play through again. There is a Bloody Palace mode in which players can test their combat skills – a series of combat arenas with progressively harder enemies – but given that the bulk of the game is almost the same thing with a few puzzles thrown in it has little overall appeal.
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition is a fairly lengthy game, but at heart it feels hollow. Spectacle makes up for depth in story and combat and repetitious combat arenas replace any interesting level design, even before you start to backtrack through areas you’ve already explored with another character. It looks great and runs smoothly, but underneath the glitz and glamour there is very little substance to sink your teeth into.
Why you should play this game ?
- You want to party like it’s 2007
- You like small arenas and repetition
- You like to fiddle while Rome burns