The story takes place after the Devil May Cry. Nero went to the Opera House to attend the ceremony of Sparda's sacrifice, as well as seeing Kyrie, his close friend. During the ceremony, suddenly, a man in red jumps and break in from the roof of the Opera House, and killed the pope, Sanctus who was praying. He also killed several other knights, and Nero fought him until waiting for backup. After the battle ended, Nero realised that the man in red did not kill humans, but demons. The man in red escaped, and Nero is tasked by Kyrie's brother, Credo to capture the man in red. Little did Nero know that in his mission in capturing the man in red, he will come across to several mysteries that will unlock his power and unveil the truth about the Order of the Sword itself.
The game's story is rather average. The sudden introduction of Nero in the game is rather weird, and there is no background explanation of his origins, his Devil Bringer, and etc. If there are introductory missions that explain his background, it would help us to understand the game's story much better. Unfortunately, the game does not have it, and the game's plot is rather simple and unmemorable, due to lack of certain plot twists that makes the story interesting.
Characters in the game are rather interesting, but lack characterisations to make them more memorable. Gloria only appears in few scenes, and only her true identity is shown in later half of the game. Kyrie is simply a damsel in distress, a good opera singer, and that's it. The game lacks strong cutscenes to make the characters memorable, so it is a minus for me. Perhaps only Nero and Dante are the only two characters I truly like in this game, but Nero's sudden introduction in the game can either make DMC fans excited or turned off since Dante is not exactly the main star of the game.
Despite the inclusion of Vergil and Lady/Trish, both of their storylines are too short for players to enjoy as there are not many story exposition of themselves in the game. Vergil's cutscenes are particularly very ambiguous, as there are only implied hints of his connection with Nero and no direct confirmation of it. Lady/Trish storyline is nothing particular interesting as well, despite it's own opening and ending scenes.
The game's control is similar to previous DMC games. Slash, shoot, jump, side roll, the usual. There are a few puzzles that need to be solved like previous DMC games, and most of the puzzles are rather creatively designed, especially the dice puzzle in certain chapters.
This latest edition includes three more playable characters, updated graphics, 60 fps, 1080p support, Legendary Dark Knight mode, Turbo mode, and Trophy support. New costumes are also included in this game, which can be unlocked by fulfilling certain conditions.
2) Exploration and Progression Section
There are 20 Missions, 13 Missions for Nero and 7 Missions for Dante. It is a bit uneven, and I would prefer if Dante has equivalent Missions as Nero's. Most Missions in the game has the similar progression. Run, fight enemies, run, solve puzzles, and finally fight the boss.
The puzzles are not too hard, but to find the place to proceed can be cumbersome since there is no marker you to go, which requires a bit of exploring if you are new to the game.
Enemies can spawn in certain areas. In certain areas, there is a Red seal that will only be unlocked if you have defeated every enemy in the room. If there is a Blue seal, you can only proceed after solving the puzzle of the room, such as solving the dice puzzle.
3) Upgrading and Customisation Section
As in previous Devil May Cry games, bosses are the real highlights in the game due to their terrific design and have unique moves that can kill you easily. In Devil Hunter mode, bosses won't pose much challenge to you if you are an average DMC player, but can be hard if you are new to it. In Son of Sparda or Dante Must Die modes, they can be very challenging.
Each bosses have their own unique attack patterns and weaknesses. The picture above shows one of the bosses you must fight, by the name of Berial. As for Berial, he specialises in fire attacks and uses some sword attacks to hit you. Most of it can be dodged unless you are not careful. Once you hit the boss enough, they will become in weakened state, open to your full assault of attacks such as Nero's Buster. All bosses except one have their own weakened state, and Nero can use his Buster attacks to deal large damage to them. Unfortunately, Dante has no access to Buster, but he has large number of moves that can deal damage to any bosses, such as Drive, Over Drive, or Dance Macabre.
In every Mission, you will be ranked accordingly to your performance, such as how fast you complete the Mission, your Stylish points, and how many Red Orbs you gathered at the end of the mission. If you get S ranks for those three areas, you will get an overall S rank. Getting bonuses such as 'No Damage' or 'No Items' can also improve your rank. New to this game is that instead of getting Red Orbs as your reward, you will get Proud Souls instead. The amount given will be according to your overall rank of the mission.
As in the first game, Red Orbs are used to purchase items such as Holy Water, Gold Orb, etc. Using them is useful in completing harder difficulty missions. Keep in mind that using Items can lower your overall rank in a Mission. However, Red Orbs cannot be used to purchase new techniques for your weapons, which now Proud Souls will fill in the job for it.
Proud Souls are used to purchase new techniques for both Nero and Dante, such as Air Hike, Enemy Step, etc. As you purchase a new technique, other techniques will start to increase the cost of purchase. Buying the proper and suitable techniques are recommended because some techniques may not be important as the other technique. For example, buying Trigger Heart is much more important since it allows you to use Devil Trigger much longer. If you are not satisfied with the technique that you just purchased, you can always refund it and buy another one.
4) Nero Gameplay Section
Nero has three weapons. Red Queen is used to attack enemies at close range with high damage. Blue Rose is used to shoot enemies from far away, but with minimal damage. Devil Bringer is used to deal strong blows on enemies, and can be used to grab enemies from a distance, etc. Nero's Devil Bringer is a very interesting and new feature. By using it, you can do several things such as grabbing an enemy from a distance to get slashed up close, or bash it mercilessly with a powerful grab attack. Devil Bringer allows new possibilities in getting Stylish combos.
Nero has another unique feature called Exceed. Exceed system allows you to increase the power of your attacks. Exceed has three levels, and you can get more levels by getting new upgrades for your Exceed. To use an Exceed attack, you need to rev up the gauge to gain level for your EX Gauge by pressing the L2/LT button. The higher the level of your Exceed attacks, the more powerful it is. Exceed attacks do not work effectively while doing normal combos, but it works well when used with special techniques such as Streak, Split, High Roller, etc. My favourite Exceed attack will be definitely EX Streak, since it can hit multiple enemies at the same time as well as highly damaging.
Unfortunately for Nero, his Blue Rose does not deal high damage, even when using Charge Shots. It can be used to juggle enemies while they are airborne, or to attack them from faraway, etc. Upgrading his Charge Shot to level 3 can be a good thing since his Charge Shot 3 can deal quite massive damage to minor enemies such as Scarecrows. However, the drawback is that you need to charge it for some time in order to use it.
Nero is the third easiest character to use in the game, due to his few weapons have variety of moves thanks to his Devil Bringer abilities and Exceed abilities. His long-range attacks are limited, but powerful as well. As the game is designed around his capabilities, Nero has no issues on beating any enemy in this game particularly.
5) Dante Gameplay Section
Dante's skills list are mostly different than Nero's skills list, so you need to get used to both characters skills as much as possible. Dante plays differently than Nero, and he has a lot of variety of moves because he has access to different weapons and Styles. In this game, Dante plays like in DMC3, except one major change.
Dante now is able to switch Styles anytime while playing. That means you don't have to go to the Divinity Statue to change your Style like DMC3. This means that endless possibilities of Stylish combos can be created now that you have access to all 5 Styles at the same time.
Dante has 4 Styles at the start of his playthrough, which are Sword Master, Gunslinger, Trickster, and Royal Guard. Sword Master style unlocks exclusive new moves for his melee weapons. Gunslinger unlocks exclusive new moves for his long-range weapons. Trickster allows Dante to use evasive maneuvers to avoid damage. Royal Guard allows Dante to block and reduce enemy's damage by guarding, and also allows him to unleash the stored energy when being attacked while guarding. Later in the game he will have access to the 5th Style, which is quite cool to be used in fighting enemies and bosses.
Dante is the most complex playable character in the game, as he has lots of variety of moves to be used albeit with some issues in executing them. Many of his powerful attacks cause Dante to be open to attacks, such as Real Impact and many of his Pandora moves. To gain mastery of Dante, you need to master his Styles moves as many of his moves are very powerful when utilised correctly, such as Royal Release and Royal Guard. Many players can be masters of Dante's playing style, some may be not.
6) Vergil Gameplay Section
Vergil is back in this game, and has lots of new moves for players to utlilise during combat. Vergil still has his signature weapon Yamato, but now he has more skills to use with that weapon, such as several new melee Yamato combos. He also has access to Beowulf and Force Edge, both with new and old skills to use. Vergil also can use the powerful Summoned Swords for ranged combat, with different variations that can hurt enemies from afar.
Vergil's unique gameplay mechanic is called the Concentration Gauge. This gauge increases as you attack enemies, dodge enemy attacks, or by standing still. If your attacks missed, blocked by enemies or damaged by an enemy, the gauge will be depleted instantly. Having a high or full Concentration Gauge allows Vergil to deal more damage on enemies, as well as allowing Vergil to use an extremely potent attack against regular demons and bosses.
His Darkslayer style is absent in this game, however he can still use some of his Trick moves in the game for combat, and he has several new ones that allow him to deal damage on enemies more aggressively such as his powerful Jiudgement Cut End, Rapid Slash, and other attacks. His arsenal of attacks make Vergil one of the most destructive playable characters in Devil May Cry games, like his playable version in Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition.
6) Lady Gameplay Section
Lady is first playable in this game, with her unique arsenal of weapons. In comparison to Dante's Gunslinger abilities, Lady herself is the better Gunslinger with more potent long-ranged attacks. Lady is well-suited for long range combat, with many of her firearms deal good damage with many powerful charged attacks. She has abysmal close range combat moves, and she does not have many evasive moves compared to Nero, Dante or Vergil as well as no access to Devil Trigger.
She also has access to a powerful attack called Burst Attack, which consumes her Burst Gauge which can be filled up by attacking enemies or taunting them. Lady may have poor close range combat moves and few evasive moves, her destructive power of firearm attacks will make many bosses deaths an easy feat.
7) Trish Gameplay Section
This is the second playable game featuring Trish. She still has access to Sparda and her trusty handguns Luce and Ombra, making her a near clone of Dante. However, her primary attack is her hand-to-hand attacks, which can be powered up by unleashing her Round Trip move, allowing her to charge her hand-to-hand attacks with electricity.
She also has access to Pandora, where her three Pandora attacks are significantly more useful and powerful than Dante's variations, especially the Revenge laser attack. She also has access to Devil Trigger, boosting her attack power and granting health regeneration. Unlike other four characters, Trish is my least likable character as many of her attacks do not deal much damage on enemies except her Pandora's Revenge attack. She also does not have charged attacks for her firearms, which can be an issue to players who rely on her long-ranged attacks.
8) Gameplay Conclusion
The gameplay is one of it's best in action hack and slash games, but this game has the same issues present from it's original version. First of all, the game recycles too many previous stages for newer ones as background and stage design, making the game's backtracking process very repetitive. Boss fights are repetitive as well, and not particularly different than the previous boss fights compared to Devil May Cry 1 or Devil May Cry 3 boss fights. The Mission balance is not well-executed, where Nero has access to more Missions than Dante, and this also applies to Lady/Trish playthrough as well. Vergil on the other hand, has access to all 20 Missions for himself. Puzzles are also too simple to be solved, and it lacks complexity or the fun of completing it unlike Devil May Cry 1's puzzles. Regardless, this game has top-notch combat, featuring five diverse characters to play at with unique fighting style, exhilarating boss fights and most of all, stylish action gameplay.
The graphics are great, with nicely designed characters such as Dante, Nero, Lady, Credo, etc. The demons' designs are also awesome, and the environments are well-detailed. Unfortunately, the setting and environments felt too colourful, and lack of gothic areas as well as the dark atmosphere.
There are not major technical issues to be noted, since the game runs perfectly at 60 fps. The previously slowdown in forest areas present in the PS3 version is no longer present in this Special Edition.
The voice acting in the game is good, thanks to great voice actors such as Johnny Yong Bosch, Reuben Langdon, Danielle Burgio, etc. They fit their roles perfectly, and I like how some of the voice actors did stunts in the game, namely Johnny Yong Bosch, Reuben Langdon and Daniel Southworth. Lady's English voice actor is replaced in this game, which is Kate Higgins.
The soundtrack is great, with some nice and memorable boss themes. Some of the vocal songs are likable, but some are not. Like DMC3's soundtrack, people will either love the music or hate it. Some can be neutral towards it, but I am fine with the soundtrack itself. Since hearing the same battle theme again and again when fighting enemies, I understand why people gets annoyed and bored out of it.
The replay value is medium, and can be considered high if you play all of the difficulty modes available. You can play harder and challenging modes such as Dante Must Die mode, where enemies are more tougher and can use Devil Trigger, or play Bloody Palace.
Bloody Palace is a series of floors with a variety of difficult challenges. All challenges are to defeat all enemies, but some can be hard or easy as you progress in each floors. There is 101 floors, and the objective is to complete as many floors as you can. For every 20 floors, you need to fight a boss. The rule is that you need to complete as many as floors you can in the time limit given. Killing enemies will give you small time extension bonus, whereas defeating bosses net you huge time extension bonuses. Completing the Bloody Palace using Nero or Dante will net either of them a Super costume, which allows unlimited Devil Trigger, but no health regeneration. The other alternative to get the Super costumes is to complete Dante Must Die mode, which is quite challenging.
You may also complete every playthrough on all difficulties, which can be challenging to some. Getting the Platinum trophy is not an easy feat, but a well-earned if you are skilled enough to master this game.
Devil May Cry 4 is a good game, but not a great one, unfortunately. Although it is better than most recent action games such as Darksiders or Dante's Inferno, it fell short when it is compared with other games such as God of War games or Ninja Gaiden games. As a DMC game, it is better than DMC2, but not as good as DMC3 or DMC1. Perhaps what makes this game from being a great masterpiece perhaps it's rush development, since I heard the game was rushed to meet it's release date in 2008. Other factor could be the director's or producer's lack of insight of the game itself as well as lack of direction.
The latest Special Edition does make the game feel worthwhile playing again, with the addition of three new characters and the Legendary Dark Knight mode. Personally, playing the game as Vergil is one of the main highlight of this game, and the main reason I bought this game. The variety of five different playable characters what made this game standout from previous Devil May Cry games, but it is not necessarily the best one. A worthy playable game, but it has it's own issues.
Story - 8/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Final Score: 34/40 or 8.5/10
Pros and Cons
- Solid gameplay.
- Diverse five playable characters.
- Good voice acting.
- Awesome graphics featuring great characters' design, demons' designs and environment's designs.
- Good soundtrack.
- Proud Souls is a good new feature for buying new techniques.
- No major technical issues.
- Dante can now switch Styles anytime, anywhere.
- Vergil is truly a god of destruction in this game.
- Lady is a fun character to play in long-ranged combat.
- Improved game performance.
- Unlockable costumes.
- New game modes such as Legendary Dark Knight and Turbo mode.
- Very easy in Devil Hunter mode.
- Some of the boss fights are very repetitive.
- Very mediocre and unmemorable story.
- Nero does not have access to different weapons.
- Recycled level designs for Dante's missions, which felt like backtracking from Nero's route.
- Some characters are under-developed.
- Very few original cutscenes for the new playable characters.