One of the last things you probably expect to happen while sitting in a church is for a white haired man dressed all in red leather to come crashing through the ceiling and gun down the priest, before becoming engaged in a massively destructive battle with a younger man armed with a giant motorbike-inspired sword and a demonically possessed right arm. This is exactly what happens in the opening to Devil May Cry 4 however, and it sets the tone for one of the most stylish games available for PlayStation 3.
No devil, no cry
The fourth game in Capcom's Devil Hunter series, Devil May Cry 4 casts you as brand new protagonist Nero, a cocky kid endowed with incredible powers. While he may seem similar to Dante, the series' traditional protagonist at first glance, Nero has his own special powers, moves and weapons. Chief amongst these is the awesome Devil Bringer, Nero's demonically possessed right arm. This power adds a third element of gameplay (in addition to guns and swords), allowing Nero to grab distant enemies, pull them in to be attacked, slam them into the ground and zoom across areas on a demonic grappling hook, and helps make Nero a very distinct character to Dante despite their identical hairstyles and love of sarcastic one-liners.
Nero also has access to a couple of extremely useful new weapons. His primary sword, known as the Red Queen, has a motorcycle-like handgrip that Nero can twist to rev up the sword and increase its impact. He also uses a single handgun, a revolver known as the Blue Rose, with a distinctive under-and-over barrel that allows two shots to be fired at once. Dante fans won't be disappointed, however, as you have the chance to play as Dante during the game as an integral part of the storyline. All of Dante's trademark moves return, including his four main fighting stances of Royal Guard, Gunslinger, Trickster and Sword Master, as well as several brand new moves, weapons and styles.
Both characters also have the power to transform into a demonic version of themselves through the Devil Trigger technique. While the Devil Trigger is active both Dante and Nero will have increased speed, endurance and attack power and have access to new offensive moves and powers.
Gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played any of the previous titles in the series but for the uninitiated the premise is a simple one; action, and lots of it. Broadly speaking, the game is a third-person action adventure in the survival horror style, although unlike most survival horror games you'll be facing wave after wave of seriously tough enemies that you must dispatch with as much flair and panache as possible.
As in the other Devil May Cry games, defeated enemies let loose Demon Orbs upon their demise which you can use to purchase health, continues, Devil Trigger recharges and holy water grenades. At the end of each mission you are also assigned a Devil Hunter rank, and the higher your rank the more Proud Souls you receive. Proud Souls can be used to improve your skills, ranging from new combos to charged shots for your weapons, increased footspeed and greater Devil Bringer range. In this way you are able to set up your character to suit your play style, and there's also an automatic skill up option that gives you a balanced moveset as Proud Souls become available.
Rush n' Attack
Despite the sheer number of different combat options available, this never feels overwhelming as most combos are achieved by simple one or two button presses. Enemies vary wildly too, so you can't just go through the game using the same moves over and over again. Even the lowliest opponents in the game are a genuine threat, and you'll have to hang back, learn attack patterns and weaknesses and strike at exactly the right moment to take out your foes.
Devil May Cry's bosses have always been the game's standout feature, and Devil May Cry 4 certainly doesn't disappoint, with some of the hugest, most imaginative and downright toughest bosses to ever grace a PS3. Part of this is to do with the game's stunning visuals that help to create a genuinely epic sense of scale and spectacle, as well as sheer good design. Each boss has its own specific weaknesses, attack patterns and environmental hazards and each boss is absolutely tough as nails, giving you a real sense of achievement when you finally beat them.
Overall, Devil May Cry 4 is a gem for action adventure enthusiasts. Fans of the series will need no convincing, while newcomers should prepare for a game that is extremely compelling, deliciously challenging and that oozes style at every turn.