Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition
System(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher (Developer): Capcom
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Violence
Devil May Cry is in a weird spot. The last game didn’t do so well. For reasons that may or may not be obvious. Maybe they should be; it doesn’t really matter. What matters is Capcom has brought the previous game, the much more successful (though still divisive in its own right) Devil May Cry 4, back in current-gen remaster form. From my perspective, I loved the original game. But it’s already on Steam, and already running as smoothly as a game from that era could possibly run. Not in 1080p, perhaps, but the point is it runs on a modern platform, and it runs well. So what’s the deal with this version? It runs at 1080p now, of course, and comes with a group of playable characters that players can run through the entire game with, sans cutscenes. There’s also a few changes under the hood, but only the most hardcore of fans will notice.
Dante: red leather, white hair, shooty/stabby, half-demon, pizza. Nero: blue leather + hoodie, white hair, shooty/stabby, demon arm, headphones. These two strikingly similar, shooty/stabby dudes cross paths in the middle of a religious controversy, and shoot/stab a ton of demons, evil puppets and other beasties. There’s a girl involved, and she gets kidnapped and stuff, because videogames. Fast forward several years and a console generation later, and a few more series mainstays join the fray. Trish and Lady are two cool ladies who use a sword/magic and hella guns, respectively. Virgil is a more evil version of Dante, with worse hair and floating sword powers. He died or something maybe, but according to the wishy-washy cutscene at the beginning of Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition if you pick him, he showed up in the area several years before the events in the game. But the same events happen, because videogames. Trish and Lady are just there to be cool and pose and shoot some bullets and steal Dante’s pizza. Again, video games.
Devil May Cry isn’t about storytelling, if the above didn’t make that clear. It’s about combos, it’s about learning, it’s about repetition. Play through the silly story and learn the controls, master the controls, play again on a higher difficulty, impress like-minded nerds on the Internet with sick combo videos set to bad metal music. Maybe don’t do that last part, but definitely do the other stuff, because Devil May Cry 4 was a blast from day one. The combat mechanisms are built around forcing you to be creative; as while the player seemingly has endless options, the order and use of those options are severely limited in specific ways. The player’s responsibility is to learn those limits and work around them to extend combos as much as possible, earning points based on both the length of said combos as well as the creativity. A combo using the same few moves over and over won’t earn nearly as many points as one that uses the whole toolbox.
Devil May Cry 4 is arguably the peak of that system, originally offering two different playable characters who, to the disappointment of many, end up going through the same levels and bosses, but handle completely differently. Nero is all about meaty attacks and grappling, while Dante has a ton of different weapons he can swap through on the fly. Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition adds the aforementioned characters to the mix, all three of whom have unique arsenals, perfectly integrated into the existing combat ecosystem. Not only is each new character a blast to play, but the ease to which they fit into the 2008 title is a testament to the strength of its systems.
The visuals received a bump in resolution, and the frame rate is a steady 60 per second. Those familiar with the PC version may be disappointed as it ran well over, and my understanding is that the new PC version doesn’t reach those numbers either (likely due to the resolution bump.) Still, many people struggle to tell the difference between 30 and 60 at times, so the difference between 60 and more than that will only be noticeable to the most die-hard. A new mode pushing the challenge to new heights is present, filling rooms with more enemies than ever. It understandably taxes the system and sometimes breaks the steady frame rate, but the sheer ridiculousness of each impossible setup makes it an easy pill to swallow, and figuring out how to survive is a fresh new task for veterans.
The biggest hangup will be for people who care about Devil May Cry lore, as silly as that sounds. More accurately, the characters and how they interact with one another. One of the original game’s greatest strengths outside of its combat was its goofy sense of humor. So, even if we don’t care about what the heck is going on with Vergil (and that’s not unreasonable), it’s still disappointing to miss out on all the banter, as new characters simply transition from setpiece to setpiece after an initial cutscene at the very beginning. Each character is meticulously designed, bringing out their individual personalities through their elaborate move sets, but it’s a shame Lady and Trish don’t really get to chew as much scenery as Dante and Nero.
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition is what it is: Devil May Cry 4 with a bunch of extra stuff packed in. It’s also at a super-great price point. As a fan of the series, there’s no reason not to play this, save for perhaps a recent purchase and run-through of the original version during a Steam sale or something. It looks great for a 2008 Capcom action joint, the new content is solid (if a little awkward at times) and it comes with all the trappings of a current gen game. Even as just a cool toy for fans who may have grown restless between 2008 and now, especially those unimpressed by the remake, Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition brings solid value to today’s platforms.
A review copy was provided for this review.