Admittedly, there are a handful of reasons why you can’t help wishing Capcom had shown a little more ambition – and even a little more effort at times. DMC4 can feel wilfully old-fashioned, with some shockingly linear level designs, the return of the old ‘we’ll lock you in this chamber until you defeat several waves of enemies’ routine and even invisible barriers all over the shop. Why, in this day and age?
For the most part, the camera is computer-controlled, and while the angles and movements chosen might be arty, they can also be confusing. Worst of all, while you can save just about anywhere you like, actually loading a game dumps you right back at the start of the mission. As you have to buy continues and the game tends to pile on several tricky multi-monster scraps before you even reach a boss battle, this is an issue. It’s also an annoyance if you’re playing late or filling in a time gap and you’d like to stop before tackling the boss. I’m not sure why Capcom thinks this sort of thing is still acceptable.
Beyond these niggles, there’s another major reason why I can’t be too generous to DMC4: repetition. It’s a real pleasure to find out that, having played the first two-thirds or so of the game as Nero, you’re back in the cowboy boots of the premier demon slayer, Dante. Sadly, Capcom then uses this as an excuse to re-use the levels, monsters and bosses you have already defeated as Nero on the way to a big final showdown. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds – new weather effects, new challenges, reworked sections and the very real differences between Nero and Dante when it comes to fighting mean that these levels don’t really feel like padding. All the same, there’s something a little cheap and cheeky about this cunning plan.
I guess there’s something ironic when you criticise a game for dishing out more of the same when – effectively – that’s exactly what makes DMC4 such a strong sequel. Yet you come away feeling that Capcom needs to do something more with a DMC5 if it wants to avoid the accusation that it’s merely clothing a last generation game in a shiny new HD costume. Still, it’s a testament to how good the core DMC gameplay is that we can play DMC4 without that thought continually arising. At the end of the day, the new DMC4 is no rebirth or resurrection, but it is – at least – an awful lot of fun.
Is DMC4 too close to DMC3 for comfort? Maybe, but Nero’s new abilities and the stunning HD graphics go a long way towards hiding the fact. Those slice-and-dice, demon-slaying antics still feel good.