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Devil May Cry 4 (360/PS3)

March 10, 2008

Long coats, massive swords, more ammunition than an American gun shop and enough one-liners to show up James Bond, it can only be another excursion into the ever flamboyant and continuously ridiculous world of Dante and pals. Except this is not the DMC everyone remembers… At first.

New to the world of hack and slash is Nero, winner of the Dante look-a-like competition and new entry into the ever-inconsequential story of killing more and more demons. However, Nero’s appearance is his main deception as he is anything but a straight copy of Dante, wielding a sword and single six-shooter, Nero’s trump card is his possessed ‘devil’ arm. These demonic powers let him reach really far to bring enemies to himself, and throw them around in all manner of flamboyant methods from sup lexes to simple slams and lobs.

Nero presents a fresh approach while still retaining the traditional DMC flair while Dante (who appears half way through the main story to trek through the levels in reverse order) feels significantly improved over his DMC 3 outing simply through the addition of switch styles. This means that Dante is now able to switch between his DMC 3 styles as well as melee and projectile weapons on the fly making him a much more flexible character than Nero, with the biggest crime being that he can only be played in the weaker retread of the game.

Fighting enemies and tower block sized bosses with both Dante and Nero is entertaining as well as rewarding as you topple them on the various difficulties, and the fact that you encounter the majority of them three times during just one run means you will know them as well as your neighbourhood by the time you finish the game just once.

And while the levels offer some of the best combat this side of Ninja Gaiden, the game also offers up some of the worst design decisions this side of Ninja Gaiden. For a game based on speedy stylish combat, the selection of slow uninspired ‘puzzles’ act as car crashes during the first run through the game, and the level and boss repeats certainly feel like a cop out. The way you play them as the two different characters somewhat eases the pain however it is not enough to completely conceal this lazy decision.

But even with these annoyances the game offers a great deal of silly fun, from cutscene to cutscene and level to level the game reaches unthinkable levels of absurdity that all adds up to reminding the player of what DMC 4 is, fun. And thankfully the developers have taken the difficulty down a notch which means more people will be able to experience the ludicrous world of fire dogs and angel robots without paying for a game pad to be surgically removed from their TV.

The formula has not evolved even slightly since Dante first ran a sword through a demon and made him a honeycomb using bullets but Nero successfully adds a new character to the ever growing roster while the game still delivers an entertaining action adventure. If you are only thinking about playing the game once then you will leave with a sour taste in your mouth. But for those willing to put the time in, the game is packed full of additional challenges that you may still be struggling through by the time DMC 5 is released.

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