The puzzles are frequently pitifully easy – to the extent that the game practically dishes out the solution in only slightly cryptic notes for the terminally thick – and the real challenge comes in mastering Nero’s combat skills and slaughtering hostile demons in the most efficient and stylish way possible. At the end of most chapters there’s a boss, differing from the vast majority of Capcom’s bosses in that a) they’re not ludicrously difficult and b) it won’t take you the better part of an hour to work out which ridiculous sequence of actions will bring them down.
In fact, being sensible about the difficulty level is one of DMC4’s biggest strengths. Don’t worry, hardcore Dante worshippers, you can still play the game through on the tricky Devil Hunter mode, and even unlock harder modes above that. If, however, you just want to enjoy the ride you can select the Human mode – without any hint of humiliation – right from the start. You can even set certain game mechanics, including combos and skill upgrades, to be handled intelligently by the game itself. The result? The first truly accessible Devil May Cry.
Now, there are two good reasons why you might want just to enjoy the ride. Firstly, you’re guaranteed to like the views. DMC4 is a seriously gorgeous game. The architecture is a little less dark and gaudiesque this time around, but there’s plenty of gothic splendour to enjoy, and as Capcom has combined some stunningly crisp and detailed textures with a superb, deliberately over-egged HDR lighting system, you can actually see the epic scenery in all its glory. Character and monster design and animation is up to Capcom’s traditional high standards, and the bosses are – once again – brilliantly conceived and executed. This is exactly what you’d expect from a next-generation Devil May Cry; it hasn’t got the clutter, the gritty detail or the realistic touches of an Uncharted or a Gears of War, nor has it got the expressive human animation of (again) an Uncharted or a Heavenly Sword. What it does have is scale, colour, contrast, definition and imagination. Personally, I think it looks pretty damn good.
Secondly, DMC4 is unashamed, old-school console fun of the sort we used to get before every designer started to worry about compelling stories, open worlds and realistic, fully-interactive environments. Capcom wasn’t worrying about real world physics or emergent gameplay when it created DMC4 – it was too busy thinking about ugly monsters, sharp objects, and cool ways in which the two might intersect. The plot is nonsense, the dialogue ridiculous and the whole thing more melodramatic than an entire series of Desperate Housewives – only our Desperate Demi-Demons are packing swords and shotguns. Even the soundtrack is spectacularly overblown, with a genuinely terrible fighting song that sounds like someone’s half-witted attempt at industrial thrash, with cringe-inducing lyrics to match. I wonder if you can download the MP3?