Review

Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition Review

  • First Released Feb 5, 2008
    released
  • PS4
  • PC
  • XONE

The devil you know.

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Devil May Cry 4 is excessive by design, from the mammoth swords to the boss battles rooted in elegant mayhem. The action can feel like a firework show that spurns a nuanced routine for a non-stop, thirty-minute finale, and there's a certain charm to this bravado. But the excessiveness takes away just as much as it gives. The structure of the extended campaign works against its own momentum, forcing you to retread recently explored locations and battle all-too-familiar enemies over and over again. While this Special Edition provides slight combat tweaks and additional characters to toy with, there's just not enough mechanical or architectural variation to justify the fluff. As a result, the endless combat rooms and recycled scenarios can be exhausting.

The re-progression is thematically justified by a character swap, giving you at least some reason to remain engaged during this slog. You spend the majority of Devil May Cry 4 with Nero, a silver-haired, sardonic punk whose emotions swing from caustic rage to lovesick sweetness at the drop of a sword. He's a suitable protagonist for the series, with enough emotional intrigue to carry the early portions of the story, but the eventual shift to Dante is welcomed. Collecting new weapons and experimenting with his unique combat stances spices up the action, and his comically blasé attitude toward towering demons hurling fire, ice, and everything in between adds an additional layer of absurdity to this ballet of angels and demons. It's just a shame that Dante is left with so little meat to pick off the bone, being relegated to retracing Nero's steps.

The Devil Bringer can transform even the toughest of foes into pretty blue explosions of light.
The Devil Bringer can transform even the toughest of foes into pretty blue explosions of light.

The most significant change introduced by the Special Edition is the inclusion of three additional characters: Lady, Trish, and Vergil. The fresh cast is playable from the start, and thankfully, each member provides a much-needed layer of combat variation absent from the original release. Lady’s proclivity for projectiles punches up your offense at range, allowing you to more easily dust airborne foes and wipe out large groups with a single, charged missile. Trish and Vergil aren’t as unorthodox in their play styles, but both benefit from swift hypersonic attacks that help you smoothly transition from demon to demon. Vergil, especially, can quickly jump from place to place and easily build upon a string of combos without having to waste time walking to a new target.

Devil May Cry 4 is deeply flawed, but the new 1080p, 60 frames-per-second wrapping provided by the Special Edition does well to modernize the aesthetic while maintaining the series' blistering speed. The action rarely skips a beat--even when a sea of enemies floods the screen--and while you might not mistake it for a brand-new 2015 release, the characters and environments just look cleaner. The uproariously extravagant cutscenes, where you'll find Dante and Nero elegantly sliding under deadly projectiles or bouncing away from massive demons with aplomb, benefit the most from the improved visual fidelity.

No Caption Provided
Nero is like a younger, moodier version of Dante.
Nero is like a younger, moodier version of Dante.

But like a stubborn wine stain, the repetition so deeply rooted in Devil May Cry 4's fabric can't be easily washed out. The additional characters replace Nero and Dante in the same scenarios, so you're still playing through identical missions you're likely already tired of. Starting the game over with a different character only highlights the lack of unique locations, so once the initial wonder of Vergil's lightning-quick technique and Lady's devastating grenade launcher wears off, there's not much left to enjoy. You can avoid replaying the main missions by instead testing out each character’s abilities in the Bloody Palace, which is a series of combat challenges where the deeper you descend, the more difficult the enemies become. However, Devil May Cry 4 can already feel like a combat gauntlet, so stripping out the story, puzzles, and exploration doesn't do it any favors. It’s nice to have more options, but the Special Edition's prevailing new features are hampered by the nature of its main adventure.

The series of events is both interesting and challenging the first time around, at least--even if they're weighed down by too many back-to-back combat sequences. Nero's combo-driven sword-play is bolstered by his pistols and wonderfully versatile Devil Bringer--a demonic arm that acts as both a quick means of transportation and a powerful melee option. Beyond its practical use, the Devil Bringer gives you greater opportunity to increase your style gauge and extend combos to great lengths. By diversifying your attacks, you can earn more points and, most importantly, complete a combat scenario in the most surgical, exciting ways possible.

Like a stubborn wine stain, the repetition so deeply rooted in Devil May Cry 4's fabric can't be easily washed out.

You can grab, pull, and pound enemies into the dirt through Nero's glowing grip, but the manner by which this arm translates to platforming and puzzle solving is more frustrating than fun. Devil May Cry 4 provides very limited camera control, and shifting perspectives often obfuscate your view as you use your arm to grapple from point to point. It can be difficult to determine your position, let alone time a jump or push certain objects to unlock doors with such a restrictive, jarring point of view.

If you're a seasoned demon hunter, the Special Edition does provide a new, punishing difficulty called Legendary Dark Knight Mode. Here, a greater number and variety of enemies spawn at any given time--creating more opportunities to string together stylish combos, but a higher probability of becoming overwhelmed. Thankfully, the points and skills accrued over time carry over, so some of the difficulty's edge can be dulled by tackling this hellish challenge on a second playthrough. However, no matter how skilled you become, the boss battles here can be ruthless, so even fully decked-out characters can fall after a few mistimed dodges.

The boss battles are beautiful, but sadly, you’ll have to see each of them three times.
The boss battles are beautiful, but sadly, you’ll have to see each of them three times.

The visual improvements and additional characters layered atop the Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition can't conceal its bloated structure. This is, without a doubt, the best this stylish action romp has looked and felt, but just because you can gussy up an old game, doesn't always mean that you should. If you're dying to see how Vergil fares against the Order of the Sword or feel the need to test the extreme difficulty, take the leap. Just be warned that some aspects of the game would have been better left in the past.

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The Good
Impressive visual improvements modernize the look
New characters provide plenty of interesting weapons and skills
The Bad
Backtracking recycles environments and kills momentum
Platforming is hampered by imprecise camera
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Devil May Cry 4

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin has spent his fair share of time slicing and dicing demons as Dante. For the purposes of this review, he completed the campaign, tested each difficulty, and experimented with each additional characters’ special abilities.
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Hard_Serpent

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So the original got an 8 but a graphical enhanced version gets a lesser score? Wouldn't it get the same score by using plain ol' logic? Was it worse than the original in anyway gameplay wise? Or did you just give it a lower score became you been there,done that alot already ?

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WarriorBoy

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@hard_serpent: How is this so hard to compute? I'm failing to understand what is the problem here. At the time, 6 years ago or so, it was alright, but fast forward and it's the same game essentially and the reviewer felt like nothing much really changed to give it a better score. They are taking the original into account, why can't you see that?

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Chaos_Dante_456

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@hard_serpent: Times have changed and games have advanced mechanics from 6 years ago might not have aged that well. SO yeah some of the stuff may have been passible at that time but not now. And like everyone said different reviewer different perspective

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simonbelmont2

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@Chaos_Dante_456: Funnily enough, DMC4 was considered to be a bit dated even when it came out: a few reviewers criticized it for not really taking advantage of the new hardware much, it didn't really evolve the formula much.

When it came out it seemed like a game that was developed by a studio that wasn't quite comfortable yet with the newer hardware.

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Chaos_Dante_456

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@simonbelmont2: I can't argue with that. It really did feel like they were afraid to go all in. I think it could have been a much better game with a greater legacy if they had taken more time with it and put in more effort.

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simonbelmont2

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@Chaos_Dante_456: I agree mate.

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Reichmaster01

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@hard_serpent: I think he is suggesting that some of the poorer aspects of the game mechanics were left unimproved. Which I agree is not a good thing.

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Alurit

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@hard_serpent: maybe different reviewer? at some point gamespot did the multiple reviews for the same thing, but that ended up being for nothing since people only want to read one

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02pheland

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@hard_serpent: its a different reviewer so a different opinion and a different score, using your plain ol' logic does this not make sense to you?

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freonyl

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@hard_serpent: maybe there are really a issue. DMC definitive edition got 9 instead of 8

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WarriorBoy

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@freonyl: DMC wasn't that old either though, and really was a superior game than DMC4. 4 repeated levels over and over again along with bosses and the story made zero sense. DMC, love or hate the new protagonist, was well done, visually a treat and something new, had a decent story line and managed to keep things fresh and add enough good content in the new edition to justify a second purchase. I was one of those people that bought it again. It was a darn good game. I'm not touching 4 ever again. Was just wayyyyyyy too repetitive with a storyline I didn't understand, playing a hero I have never heard of and adding nothing to the story line with bosses that recycled themselves not twice but THREE times! Yea, this game got the score it deserved

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Meta33

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@warriorboy: what it boils down to DMC4 and the orginals loved in japan cause lets face it. Its cooler. In america dmc cause amaericans love emo punks who think cussing at a boss 6 times in less than a minute is cute.

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QCTeamkill

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@warriorboy: I liked DmC for the action game it was.

I'll play DMC4SE a couple hours with Vergil and then most likely will be done with it.

Devil May Cry 4 More Info

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  • First Released Feb 5, 2008
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Devil May Cry 4 is the fourth installment in Capcom's demon-hunting series, but this time it stars a new character, Nero, and his powerful demonic arm.
    8.6
    Average Rating16867 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Devil May Cry 4
    Developed by:
    Capcom
    Published by:
    Capcom
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence