Devil May Cry 4 Hands-On

We plug in a gamepad and unleash the power of the demon on the PC.

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PC gamers have to tip their hats to Capcom. With most of the company's major console releases also appearing on the PC, action fans don't need to run to a console to experience third-person action games like the upcoming Bionic Commando and the already released Devil May Cry 4. What you will need, however, is a gamepad.

We plugged in our handy Xbox 360 wired controller for some bloody Devil May Cry 4 action this week; keyboard controls are supported but this game is simply way too fast. Almost immediately--that is, after the awesome opening cutscene of the type that the DMC franchise is known for--we started slicing and dicing through hordes of evil creatures and sending them back to the darkness from whence they came, collecting proud souls in the process.

Dante makes an appearance as well, and he's not always friendly.
Dante makes an appearance as well, and he's not always friendly.

For those new to the franchise, proud souls are the glowing orbs that you are rewarded with for offing enemies with particularly nasty combos. They act as currency to upgrade your weapons and purchase additional combos. Oh, and you play as Nero, a towheaded warrior armed with his trusty Blue Rose pistol, Red Queen sword, and a demonic arm called the Devil Bringer. To really get a handle on DMC4, check out Kevin Van Ord's review of the console version that was released back in February. We're here to talk about some of the exclusive PC features.

First, there are two new modes. Turbo mode speeds up the action so you'll be sure to develop some calluses on your thumbs as you unleash combos at a ferocious pace--as if DMC4 wasn't already fast enough. The Legendary Dark Knight mode will put your gaming rig to the test because it will up the enemy count, sometimes to more than 100 foes onscreen, so be sure to sharpen your sword. Also, enemies will be located in different areas than the console version, which is a simple change of pace for those who have played DMC4 before, and a good touch if not exactly revolutionary. If your rig is struggling with all of the blood and gore, you can of course customize your graphics settings within the game or try out the new benchmark testing, a series of boss fights that test your rig to see if it's up to the challenge.

Earlier this week we blasted through one of the many boss fights, this one against a demon who thinks he's an angel. Using the Devil Bringer, we latched on to the enemy's face, jumped over his body, spun around, and then unleashed a barrage of aerial attacks followed by a few pistol blasts for good measure. A quick note: Bullets don't usually work on bosses, and they didn't help here. We dodged the demon's impossible-to-block sword attack and the giant gold spears he hurled at us, and then repeated the Devil Bringer combo attack until he was defeated in a gloriously gory cutscene that you have to see for yourself.

The experimentation of the swordplay is really the biggest draw to the combat in DMC4. Timing is everything, and a split-second difference between button presses can change a combo completely. Perfectly executed combos may initiate a deadly finishing move that is so fun to watch you'll wish your rig had TiVo.

Bosses can be, um, big.
Bosses can be, um, big.

Visually, DMC4 looks amazing. The lighting and textures improve on the game's console counterparts, and it takes advantage of the PC platform. The sweeping theatrical cutscenes run at 120 frames per second, which puts the 30fps scenes in the console version to shame. Plus, you can play it in either DirectX 9 or 10. Even though you had to wait until now to play DMC4 on the PC, kudos to Capcom for giving the PC version exclusive content and features that the platform deserves (and for only $39.99). DMC4 is slated to hit stores this July, but you can try it for yourself by downloading the demo here.

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