TGS 06: Devil May Cry 4 Hands-On

We get our hands on Capcom's stylish PS3 action game for the first time in Tokyo.

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TOKYO--Yep, it's Devil May Cry. Thanks to a bout of sprinting, we were one of the first few people to play Devil May Cry 4 here at TGS after the show floor opened this morning. While it's not an earth-shattering revolution in gaming, fans of Devil May Cry 3 will be pleased to know that the series's trademark stylish action is returning in an almost identical form, at least based on the impressions that the demo left us.

Graphically speaking, DMC4 is obviously a pretty game, albeit not overwhelmingly so. The demo we played was somewhat low on the wow factor for the most part, which was mostly due to the environment that we were playing in. The action started off in a garden initially and then shifted into some grungy warehouses before moving outdoors into a dock area. It's done well, but not jaw-droppingly so--at least, not at this point in development. There are still frame-rate issues that will likely be cleaned up in the future, though.

Nero himself will be instantly familiar to anyone who played as Dante in Devil May Cry 3 since he looks and is controlled in almost the exact same fashion. The square button shoots his gun (a large revolver in his case), triangle slashes his large sword, X jumps, and circle causes him to punch with his demon fist, which is attached to his arm at the elbow and glows red. The combination of his demon fist and sword makes him control somewhat as if you were using both the sword and Beowulf from DMC3 at the same time. No evidence of weapon-switching was apparent in the demo we played, although we're betting that any new weapons you get will only replace the triangle attack; the demon fist seems to be important enough to always be equipped.

With that said, we didn't see any evidence of styles or the devil trigger. The normal style button, circle, was bound to the demon-fist attack command, so that seems to be irreplaceable. The normal devil-trigger button doesn't cause any kind of transformation but instead causes Nero to gain a short burst of speed. We're betting that our demo was from fairly early in the game, based on all of these factors.

This isn't to say that combat was uninteresting. It is, instead, overwhelmingly familiar, enough so that all of our (admittedly meager) skills were instantly applicable when we started playing, since most of the move sets are apparently identical to DMC3. The normal sword attacks can be combo'd together to form some rapid slashes, while the familiar forward-plus-triangle dash is back and capable of hitting multiple opponents. Back plus triangle will, likewise, kick enemies in front of you up into the air, letting you jump up after them and start slashing them while in midflight.

Fans of outdated street slang will be pleased to know that your ability to quickly land a variety of blows without getting hit will again get you a rank, anywhere from D all the way up to (presumably) SSS. The higher you go, the more red orbs you get when you kill your foes. We managed to scope out a few of the titles you can earn, spotting "Come On," "Big Ups," "All That," and, after a furious bout of button mashing, "Slammin' Beat."

The demon fist acts quite like Beowulf attacks from DMC3, with the default combo hitting enemies up into the air a bit and then smashing them back down into the ground, causing the floor to fracture and staggering nearby opponents. In addition to that, you can perform what's known as a "snatch" on distant enemies, where the fist will quickly detach from your arm, grab opponents by the head, then teleport them back to your location, letting you beat on them at close range.

Speaking of enemies, the trademark bizarre opponents of Devil May Cry games of yore appear to be influencing the design of the enemies here. We only saw a couple of varieties of foes in our demo, both of which were patchwork-doll-like creations, seemingly made of many body parts stitched together with a number of blades attached to them. The difficulty of the fighting here wasn't overwhelming, despite the inability to switch styles or weapons, so perhaps the difficulty adjustments made to the Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition have been incorporated into the initial run of Devil May Cry 4.

Overall, the experience of playing the Devil May Cry 4 demo here at TGS is very similar to playing Devil May Cry 3, save for the graphical upgrades. We weren't particularly surprised by anything we encountered, although the game did show off a huge, flaming Balrog-like enemy that stepped out of a fiery portal before the demo timed out. Only time will tell what Capcom has up its sleeve for the full version of the game; we're sure that it hasn't revealed everything about the title here at TGS. For instance, one of the postcards that representatives from the company were handing out as you exited the game booth features Nero standing on a set of steps with someone who's wearing Dante's red-colored trench coat walking up the stairs beyond him. What role Dante himself has in Devil May Cry 4 is yet to be determined, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more details on the title as they become available.

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