E3 2007: Hands-on with Devil May Cry 4

My eyes weren’t fixed on DMC4 until I ran into our own Colette trying her hand at the game, giggling with a sort of unrestrainable glee that only a good, solid action title can draw out of you. I was blowing away the hordes of zombies at the Umbrella Chronicles booth but kept an eye on the other screen, thinking “Damn, I could be playing that.” Blazing at 60 frames, newcomer Nero was tearing through demons at speeds so swift I could barely keep up, and the experience seemed effortless — I had to give it a shot. That’s how DMC4 became my next stop and, after twenty minutes with the game, one of my standout experiences at E3.

Hit the jump for more. 

DMC and I have had a somewhat rocky relationship. It was passionate at first (DMC1), but the honeymoon was over right quick (DMC2). The series’ lifetime on the PS2 ended on a very high note, but not so much that the game’s announcement and the forthcoming multiplatform genre got me terribly keyed up. Having played the game, however, I can attest to the fact that you 360 owners should be very, very happy you’re getting this game.

The focus on DMC4, as with previous games in the series, remains fast-paced, hard-hitting combo-oriented asskicking. The demo we played at the show featured some basic exploration and granted us a few basic abilities to help us along, chief among them the “devil bringer” arm, new to Devil May Cry 4. Once upgraded, the devil bringer allows Nero to grab at long distances — certain highlighted platforms show where the player can activate the arm and reach long distances or great heights. Exploration’s swell and all, but how does the devil bringer work in combat?

Maintaining a constant flow of combat and keeping your enemies in the air as you cut them to little crumbly bits is a lot easier with the inclusion of this new gameplay mechanic. The “snatch”, as it’s referred to, is performed by pressing R1 and the circle button at the same time. Nero will hurl the devil bringer towards the nearest or locked-on enemy and pull him back, paving the way for a combo. This works no matter where the enemy is located, including over your head — one of my favorite means of dispatching the foes in my path was knocking them around a bit, using the “high roller” attack to knock them into the air, shooting them several times and snatching them back to the earth for more up-close attacks. Makes for intuitive and fast-paced play, but don’t expect those other enemies to go light on you while you’re going to town on a single poor schmuck.

The game now features a minimap in the lower-right portion of the screen, which is swell for those with no innate sense of direction like yours truly. From what I played I only had one complaint: jumping still feels somewhat unnatural and stilted as it had in previous games. For someone who can move as swiftly as Nero can, you’d figure the jumps could at least be more precise — with some time, though, it’s something you can get used to. What can I say? I’ve been spoiled by God of War

The game looks and plays phenomenally on a PS3, running at a swift 60 frames and slowing down only once: standing on a balcony overlooking a room with what an absolute ton of enemies. Even then, things didn’t chug — it only dropped enough that I noticed compared to the buttery-smooth framerate I had seen up to that point. The game’s draw distance is wild — I got to see some very beautiful vistas along the way beyond the reach of the level itself. Despite its somewhat gothic roots, DMC4 is quite colorful, and on the right setup, it’ll make your eyes bleed. You know, in a good way.

360 and PS3 gamers alike can look forward to DMC4 this Winter.

Aaron Linde