Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition review

Last year Capcom brought 2014’s DmC to current consoles with a definitive edition. Now, 2008’s Devil May Cry 4 sees the same treatment, jumping over to the Xbox One with enhancements and new features. Loyalty is divided between the two versions of Devil May Cry, and now fans of either style can dive back in and slay demons to their heart’s content. However, with such a significant gap between Devil May Cry 4’s original releases, can this refreshed version still compete?

It turns out it certainly can, achieving a high level of visual clarity as well as a refreshingly bright colour palette sees it stand toe to toe with the majority of refined re-releases. It also enjoys some new features, but underneath it all are the same issues that plagued it back when it first released, making for a compellingly intense action experience but not the most coherent one.

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Style over substance is clearly Devil May Cry 4’s philosophy, and its special brand of over the top action is an enjoyable spectacle. It all starts off with you jumping into the shoes of series new comer, Nero, and after a cut scene introduction you’re battling series favourite and previous protagonist, Dante, in a tutorial combat scenario. Your three weapons are broken in during this sequence, with swordplay, gunplay and demon hand-play, all introduced as you fight against a cocky Dante, who’s just blown the heads off seemingly innocent people. Wall running, bullet dodging and blocking, and insanely showy sword combat is unabashedly shown off before Dante scarpers and you take to the streets only to find demons invading. It’s now up to you to slaughter the demons and chase Dante down. However, things aren’t quite what they seem, and soon a convoluted plot unravels.

It’s a story that drives the action at a great pace but leaves the narrative behind, largely. Mindless combat is punctuated by impressive showdowns against boss demons, with a trickle of storytelling on the side. Half way through and you control switches to Dante, where you retread Nero’s path and re-fight the same boss. Finally, with the end in sight, it’s back to Nero and a third skirmish with the same bosses. It can’t help but feel padded and unimaginative, and despite how great the boss fights and combats overall is, it feels dull and frustrating to face the same challenges multiple times. And the combat really is spectacular, achieving a high level of style and spectacle whilst remaining technical and clever.

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A style metre measures your skill in combat, rewarding you for variety. As such you’re encouraged to switch between your three weapon types rather than focus on a single one, as well as upgrade them all and learn new moves. It makes combat more cerebral despite the button mashing ease of using your weapons, striking a unique balance of easy to use and learn yet difficult to master. Moreover, Dante has four separate styles of combat: Trickster, Sword Master, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard, with each providing different moves, strengths and weaknesses for you to experiment with. With spectacle being such an integral part of the Devil May Cry persona, this accessible, versatile, and visually stunning combat system is a fantastic highlight.

The re-used boss encounter and locations hurt the tale Devi May Cry tries to weave but an abundance of unanswered questions and lack of ties to the previous titles and their lore, also makes it feel very disconnected. Nero’s striking resemblance to Dante, for example, remains a mystery. Things get worse for the story with the new features in this Special Edition.

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You can now play through the story as Dante’s twin brother, Vergil, as well as series favourites, Trish and Lady. All three have their own combat styles that share the same ease of use yet complex nature as Nero’s and Dante’s. They’re a terrific set of characters to play through with, offering up a different enough combat experience to make them all feel unique. However, although the odd cut scene with them helps move the story along, you’re still playing through the same tale as Nero and Dante, and the confusion only multiplies with their presence.

Devi May Cry 4 Special Edition brings the same brilliant combat, diverse colour pallet, and intense action as the original version back in 2008. Moreover, the visual enhancements make the aforementioned spectacle even more exhilarating. Additionally a new, even more intense difficulty mode, Legendary Knight Mode, gives veterans a new challenge, and the option to play as different characters is neat. However, the story is still a mess, and whilst the series has always leaned more towards combat than storytelling, it’s prominent enough here to distract you.

Thanks to Xbox & Capcom for supporting TiX

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