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Devil May Cry 4 Review

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It's demon-slaying time...

★★★★

Devil May Cry 4 is guaranteed to split gamers; from the console fanboys who petitioned Capcom to keep the series as a PlayStation exclusive, to the long-time aficionados who griped that early footage looked identical to previous instalments, the series’ next gen debut will struggle to please everyone. Yet despite the developer’s dogged determination to stick with a tried-and-tested formula, making everything about DMC4 bigger, bolder and more outrageous than before has spawned an action adventure that’s hard to resist.

Focusing on the escapades of a new demon slayer, Nero – silver-haired charmer Dante still appears later in the quest, natch – DMC4 follows the same template as its ludicrous predecessors: slaughter an army of monsters, explore some shadowy crypts, then face-off against a towering hellion who blocks your path to the next challenge. But, while there are few surprises along the way, it’s how the action unfolds that will have DMC addicts soiling their leather trousers and Victorian frockcoat.

While preposterous sword and gunplay has always been a hallmark of the series, this time the combat nuttiness has been cranked up a notch, with Nero sporting the ghostly, impossibly-powerful Devil Bringer that allows him to grab distant opponents, wrench them across the room, then unleash a brutal flurry of attacks. The chance to flip into the air then plummet headfirst towards the ground while pumping enemies with bullets still makes the action insanely thrilling, and tweaked attacks such as being able to spike rivals in the air and summon a spirit helper also means DMC buffs will soon be hooked to mastering the fresh moves, just as newbies will be seduced by the ability to unleash absurd attacks with the simplest of button presses.

In terms of presentation, DMC4 also does an incredible job of updating the series, with expansive worlds seeped in gothic moodiness that adds weight to every encounter, and an epic soundtrack that makes walking across an empty room feel like the most significant event in gaming history. The enemies you’ll dispatch along the way also take the series’ menagerie of monsters to unprecedented new heights, ranging from creepy, Frankstein’s monster-style patchwork zombies that never know when they’re beat, to hulking devils that dwarf the cocky protagonist and make Lord Of The Rings’ Balrog look like a piqued puppy.

But, like previous DMCs, what makes the game a genuine treat is that it’s so damned cool; as if packing a double-barrelled shotgun and six-foot sword wasn’t dandy enough, the handle of Nero’s blade can be revved like a motorcycle, charging up a devastating attack and making you feel like a diabolical badass. And combined with the game’s theatrical action, sharp costumes and briefcase called Pandora’s Box that can flatten entire armies with its destructive power, playing DMC4 is an electrifying experience that makes other action adventures feel pedestrian by comparison.

Of course, the fact the game sticks with its crowd-pleasing template – and carries DMC’s perennial problems, such as a dodgy in-game camera and lack of multiplayer mode – means DMC4 squanders that elusive fifth star, especially in the wake of this month’s star pupil, Burnout: Paradise, which shows what a developer can do by ditching convention and trying something completely different. But even though there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, DMC4 is still a blast from beginning to end, and worth a punt if only to wield weapons called the Lucifer, Rebellion and Gilgamesh.

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