I should have played DMC4 before DmC in this retrospective. The games control so very different that it’s jarring to go from one back to the other. I was so used to the pulls and dodges of DmC that it took me much longer to re-acclimate to DMC4’s traditional controls than I’d like to admit.
There was a bit of controversy surrounding DMC4 because of the way it “pulled an MGS2,” replacing the series protagonist with whinier pretty boy. I guess that makes this comparison even better, as the main character of both games isn’t what a majority of people wanted from a DMC title. However, the biggest difference between the two is how they were handled. Nero is similar to Dante, Dante is still in the game, and the developers didn’t actively provoke fans of the series.
Of course, it also helps that Nero was one of the best designed characters in not only the series, but the entire genre. His combat style is similar to Dante, but still unique. He has his own versions of the iconic Dante techniques, such as Stinger, High Time, and Helm Breaker. At the same time, the Exceed Gauge moves and Devil Bringer give him a feel all his own. It’s a real testament to the ability of the development team to make Nero so versatile with one sword, one gun, and one “style” command.
Combat is an absolute blast, but it does have its flaws. The camera really works against you at times. Though lock-on really helps to nullify that as much as possible, directional inputs can be a pain in areas where the camera shifts. This is extra annoying when your evasive roll is tied to lock-on and said directional inputs.
The combat is the solid aspect of DMC4, and what you do between battles is the game’s weakest points. The run speed feels abysmal until you purchase the upgrade for speed, but even then you have to run for a few seconds before it kicks in. Faster movement should have been there from the start, especially considering the fact you do a lot of running with no enemies around.
Puzzles have always been a part of DMC. They’re a holdout from when it was going to be a new Resident Evil entry. Usually they’re stupidly simple and combat related, so it was never a big problem. DMC4 breaks that mold in a bad way by adding luck to the equation. At one point you have to strike a dice block, moving a game piece around a board to advance. Actually, this happens at several points and it only becomes more annoying each time it occurs, as you can circle the board multiple times before finally landing on a correct space. It’s the second lamest thing you could add to a game like this because it only slows you down.
While the dice games were the single worst element in DMC4, there’s another problem that really sticks out: Platforming. I am a platformer snob of sorts, and let me tell you, the jumping and aerial abilities of this game do not make for fun platforming at all. It’s bad. Not only that but there are times when you attempt jumps and the camera shifts, completely disorienting you. The only upside is that the worst platforming bits are optional.
Finally, the last major complaint about the game is the back tracking and reuse of bosses. The Dante portion of the game is spent retracing Nero’s steps in reverse to return to the starting area, and almost every boss encounter is repeated two to three times. I feel everyone hates this part of the game, while I don’t.
Backtracking isn’t terrible when done right, look at “Metroidvania” games for example. I would hate the backtracking if it were just Nero retracing his steps, but it’s not simply more of the same. Since Dante has his own set of abilities separate from Nero, and parts of areas are destroyed or altered as Nero passed through, the way Dante traverses an areas is different. Combat and boss encounters also unfold differently because of the multiple fighting styles he implements and the lack of “Buster” moves.
-Combat is almost perfect.
-Both characters have their own combat styles that are well crafted.
-Great enemy design.
-The camera is your biggest enemy at times.
-Luck based “puzzles.”
-Platforming is bad.
87/100. The flaws are offset by the high level of combat. Most of the problems in this game comes from what happens between combat. Failure in these sections is often punished with a waste of time and even more combat though, so while it can be annoying, you get to blow off some steam with one of the best combat systems ever made.