Since Tokyo Game Show 2006 and the explosion of Devil May Cry 4 media, I’ve been keeping Capcom’s demon slaying action game in the back of mind. While it may be the fourth installment in the franchise, Devil May Cry 4 served as my second foray into Dante’s world. Having played and loved Devil May Cry 3, I had high hopes for Devil May Cry 4. I wanted it to be bigger, badder and basically be Devil May Cry 3 in high definition. In many ways they delivered, but I believe they may have taken my request too literally as well.
When compared to its predecessor, there’s a great deal of change on the visual front. The game’s art direction was reeled in from the darker Gothic theme and replaced with a brighter and more orderly backdrops. Clean and proper cathedrals replaced the dark desolate run down castles of yore. Green jungle spaces actually make appearances in this game, but despite the backdrop changes: they are still rooms bound by invisible walls. Interaction with the environment is still extremely limited.
Nero, Dante and the rest of the supporting cast were well modeled and animated. The detailed models is appreciated, but it’s icing on the cake when compared to the smooth 60 frames per second the game runs with for a majority of the time. The framerate dips, but it is only prevalent on those jungle areas which also employ terrible lighting and shadow work. It’s probably the ugliest level out of the entire DMC4 repertoire — and that’s a bad thing. A very bad thing.
Efficient use of assets is a tough balancing act. Do you use the same assets frequently and risk becoming blatantly repetitive or do you spend more resources on creating more unique assets? DMC4 falls with the former. Playing through the game as Nero for the first half of DMC4 is fine and dandy, however the obvious and mandatory retreading of levels with Dante is a bit much. Not only does it highlight the lack of unique content, but it also makes the game needlessly longer. I would have appreciated the Devil May Cry 3 approach where once you beat the game, the option to play the game through as Vergil became available. Capcom, not everyone wants to play your awesome boss battles three times over (twice with Nero, once with Dante) in one play through.