Games for Lunch: Devil May Cry 4
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Windows
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site
0:00 Another day, another Devil May Cry game. If it's anything like No. 3, I'll be happy.
0:01 A woman walks through an orange marble conservatory. Lightning in the distance as a guy in a red coat (Dante?) watches. A winged thing descends. A floating snake slinks by. Dante and the girl look at each other. Quick jump cuts show Dante in action, getting kicked in the face, grabbing enemies, riding them like scooters, shooting them, getting eaten, kicking them into the air, pile driving them into the ground, etc. "The story goes that Sparda served as the feudal lord of the city long ago. The people of the city take these stories as truth and worship him as a god." Scenes of citizens fleeing from monsters. Dante kicking falling blocks of granite. The girl floats in a blue stasis field. "She has nothing to do with this... Let her go!" Etc. etc. Contemplative music over slow-mo action scenes. Dante leaps and reaches out for something. He screams out as the title appears. I feel like I've seen the whole of the story already?
0:04 The title screen shows which of my Xbox Live friends are playing the game and how much they've completed. Is this supposed to unleash my competitive fires?
0:06 I can choose "Human" or "Devil Hunter" difficulties. I'm not exactly "new" to the series, but I've only played for an hour, so "Human" it is. I choose to turn on "Automatic," whatever that means.
0:07 "CAPCOM Presents"... a dusty alley in a slummy city. Dante (?) runs through with a cast on his arm. Credits roll over a shot of the woman from before woman in a cathedral. She looks serene... at peace. The music swells as the woman begins to sing. I can barely make out the words. "Hear the devils cry... always turn your back on him," possibly. A bunch of clawed monsters stand in Dante's way. He takes them out with a jump kick and some slashing. The woman notices a seat in the pews is empty... is it Dante's? Is he trying to get to church? Beautiful, slow-mo animation on Dante and the singer. The juxtaposition of beauty and carnage is pretty moving. This is much more elegant than the DMC3 opening.
0:10 The carnage done, Dante resumes running. The singer finishes with a final high note. Applause. Dante is in his seat... he looks exhausted. They smile at each other. Awww. A shot of the sun over the city. More loading.
0:11 Still a cut scene: "2,000 years ago, the Dark Knight Sparda turned against his demon brethren and took up his sword for the sake of mankind." Spoiler alert! Also, isn't Batman the Dark Knight? The preacher warns against the fusing of the human and demon realms. The singer sits next to Dante, who starts listening to his headphones. She picks up a present in his bag. The hooded assemblage kneels to pray. The singer just called the guy Nero. So it isn't Dante? He gets up to go: "All this preaching's putting me to sleep." Suddenly, the real Dante (I can only assume... he also has a red coat) bursts in through a skylight and blows the preacher's head off at point-blank range before anyone can react. He turns slowly to show his blood-spattered face to the crowd. Whoa!
0:14 Some of the hooded guys draw swords and attack Dante, but he takes them out with his usual panache. Nero and singer girl run off and her present gets trampled in the fleeing. More beautiful destruction as Dante decimates the guards. Singer girl goes back to protect a guard and gets knocked over. Dante looks at her funny and Nero runs in and TOTALLY KICKS HIM IN THE FACE. YEAH! An epic battle of the red-caped guys ensues. They end up in a Mexican stand-off. The head guard goes off to get help. "I won't hold my breath," says Nero. Jumping, flinging, destroying priceless cement statues, flipping, running up a giant sword, etc. Wow...
0:16 Apparently the Automatic mode I chose lets me pull off complicated combos just by repeatedly pressing a single attack button. Sweet. The game tells me this as I begin "Mission 01: Birds of a Feather."
0:18 The game commences an extremely slow-paced tutorial based around the battle between Nero (my guy) and Dante (the bad guy?). I have to repeat each new move three times to prove I know how to do it. I much preferred the fast-paced tutorial in DMC3, which just threw you into a fast-paced battle and told you how to do stuff.
0:20 I'm forced to skip a cut scene when I get a phone call. I'll just assume there was some cool posing and posturing amid a hard-fought battle.
0:22 More tutorial, then yet another cut scene. Nero blocks a sword strike with his cast. OW! But the cast is actually a gauntlet that seems to absorb the energy from the blow. Nero ends up picking up a chunk of cement and throwing it at Dante.
0:23 The Buster move lets me "grab an enemy with the Devil Bringer and toss them away like a cheap toy." Evocative and accurate.
0:24 More cut scene battling... Nero throws Dante through a few rows of church seats. "So you're looking to play huh? All right... I've got some time to kill," Dante looks a lot older than he did in DMC3, which I guess makes sense if it's 2,000 years later. "Looks like I'll have to take you down a couple notches," says Nero. "Whatever you say kid," Dante retorts.
0:25 My first non-tutorial battle. Dante doesn't put up much of a fight as I pummel him relentlessly. The controls feel a little more sluggish than they did in DMC3, and my bullets don't seem nearly as effective or impactful.
0:26 Oh, goody, another cut scene. Lots of face-punching by Nero, then a throw into a statue and Dante gets impaled by a sword. "Getting better. I would even go as far as to say that I underestimated your abilities," He says as he pulls the sword out. "You aren't human are you?" NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Dante runs off with a cryptic statement about Nero being different. Seems the preacher wasn't human, either. "Adios, kid." I get a B ranking and a "proud soul" that will help me acquire new skills. Groovy.
0:30 Yet more cut scenes... shots of the devastated church... the head guard surveys the damage. Singer girl hauls in a case. "Credo requested," she says. "She yearns for your touch." Dirty! I bet she's not the only one, eh? Credo is a sword, by the way. "You must capture him," says Uptight McSourPuss (a.k.a. the head guard). Nero and singer girl share a tender moment when the ground begins to rumble... more loading.
0:32 Still a cut scene: A monster throws a villager to his death. Chaos in the streets, like I saw in the intro. More monsters flood from the balcony. I watch as Nero starts taking them out. Couldn't I be controlling this?
0:34 Singer girl Kyrie runs to help a civilian and is almost killed. Nero saves her in the last minute. Again, something I wish I was doing. Whoever made this game seems more interesting in directing movies than directing gameplay. "This baby sure can pack a punch." Nero's bon mots don't hold a candle to Dante's.
0:35 Mission 02 starts. The map is much more helpful this time around, with clearly marked paths out of the rooms. The game also tells me how to open doors. Anyone who read Games for Lunch on Friday will know this means quite a lot to me.
0:36 I'm wandering around a deserted opera house for a minute or so before some black mist forms into more monsters. There are only three of them. In DMC3 I had fought off hundreds of monsters by this point...
0:38 The camera keeps jumping abruptly, Resident Evil style. I'm not a fan. Sometime I can move it around; other times it's horribly fixed.
0:42 This is lame. I'm stuck trying to get to a door that's blocked by a wall and a fallen piece of balcony. Ugh.
0:43 Investigating a blue orb thing cuts to another cut scene. I pick it up and the pedestal begins turning. The orb glows and gets absorbed into my gauntlet thing. It "awakened new power within" apparently. Now I can use a "Grim Grip" to "bound across an area like a bat out of hell" when I stand on a continuum pad. When did this game become The Legend of Zelda?
0:46 Using my newfound Deus Ex Machina Grip ability, I easily make it to the inaccessible door. Sigh.
0:47 Instead of engaging the interesting-looking monsters below me, I'm forced to soar right above them to access a "secret mission" panel. Double sigh.
0:48 The secret mission transports me back to the courtyard for no apparent reason to take out some enemies within a strict time limit. I feel like I'm fighting the clock more than the enemies, who stand around waiting to be beaten. I fail and decide to try again. It's something to do, I guess...
0:52 Two more attempts and I still utterly fail. The monsters are too spread out and lumber too slowly. Bleh. Moving on...
0:54 The game teaches me an ability to bring far-off enemies close. This probably would have helped with the secret mission. Of course, now I can't go back. Triple sigh.
0:58 The L button is supposed to rev up my sword for flaming hits or something, but I don't notice a difference. And I'm getting a little tired of these deserted areas punctuated occasionally with the one type of enemy I've seen so far.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? I haven't finished Devil May Cry 3, and that game seems a much tighter and more action-packed (and less empty-area-and-cut-scene-packed).
This column was based on a retail copy of the game rented from GameFly.
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