When Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4 was first released back in 2008, it heralded a number of intriguing new changes for the franchise. Not only was it the first Devil May Cry game to be featured on the (then) new –gen PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, it was also the first game in the series to be released on a non-PlayStation platform (in addition to consoles, it was also released for PC). The game’s “dual narrative”, which starred both series mainstay Dante and newcomer Nero, had its share of hits and misses (critics praised the story but derided the over-emphasis on backtracking) but overall it succeeded in its mission of bringing Dante and co. into a new generation of gaming. Now Capcom is hoping to reignite that spark with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition; a remastered version of the game that adds in new modes, new playable characters, and visual enhancements that bring it more in line with the capabilities of today’s *newer* new-gen consoles.
Retreading Old Ground
From a pure gameplay standpoint, very little about DmC4 has been changed in the Special Edition. If you played the console version of the original game, the controls are virtually identical on each console’s new-gen counterpart. Dante still has his multiple “combat styles” (and can freely switch between them mid-mission unlike in Devil May Cry 3) while Nero can “rev up” his Red Queen sword to add power to his melee attacks and utilize his “Devil Bringer” arm to traverse the environment and propel himself towards enemies. There are no additional cutscenes or levels (at lease for the standard Nero/Dante campaign) but a new optional tutorial that teaches the basics of movement and combat has been added in, making the Special Edition an ideal entry for those who never played the original version.
If you already played the original version of DmC4 and you want to dive straight into the new content, you’re free to do so without having to first clear the base campaign. In addition to the Nero/Dante storyline, the Special Edition features two additional campaigns; one that replaces Nero and Dante with female protagonists Trish and Lady (marking Lady’s first playable appearance in the series) and another that allows players to venture through the entire story campaign as Dante’s twin brother Vergil.
Trish functions in a very similar manner to her playable Devil May Cry 2 incarnation, armed with twin pistols and the sword of Sparda, while Vergil plays in a near identical fashion to his Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition appearance, sporting his Yamato katana, Beowulf gauntlets, and Force Edge sword. Vergil’s one new mechanic is his “Concentration Gauge” which allows the player to build up a damage bonus by landing varied attack combos without getting hit or running. Lady is the one character whose fighting style is completely new and unique, focusing more on ranged combat using her Kalina Ann rocket launcher, a pair of pistols, and a shotgun. A bayonet attached to Kalina Ann allows for some limited melee combos but Lady’s main focus is on punishing foes from afar.
Again, aside from a brief new cutscene included at the start of both new campaigns, the mission progression remains the same even when playing as Vergil or Lady/Trish. This means that, for longtime Devil May Cry players, there’s really nothing new aside from the addition of Lady as a playable character. Sure it’s fun getting to replay the DmC4 campaign using the new characters but playing through the exact same sequence of missions three separate times can wear on even the most dedicated Devil May Cry fan’s patience. The Legendary Dark Knight difficulty mode that was originally only available in DmC4’s PC version is also included but its punishing difficulty means only hardcore players will even care to try it.
What’s Old Is New…And Then Old Again
Many past Devil May Cry games have followed a cyclical sort of pattern. Most fans play through each new entry at least once in order to experience the new story and gameplay improvements but only the truly dedicated stick around to play through all the various difficulty levels and unlock all of the hidden costumes and modes. With DmC4 Special Edition, Capcom has made a game that takes away the new story incentive (since it just rehashes the original game’s story campaign three times over) and also doesn’t add a whole lot to the “new gameplay” pool (since, with the exception of Lady, all of the playable characters function in the exact same manner as in past Devil May Cry games). Add to that a camera system that still manages to be problematic during platforming sequences and you’ve got a game that only hardcore Devil May Cry fans can truly embrace.
It’s likely that Capcom realized this ahead of time, hence why DmC4 Special Edition only costs $25, but it’s still disappointing to see that the developer elected to take a shallower, lazy approach with porting the game over, an approach which offers virtually no incentive for more casual Devil May Cry fans (unless they’ve never played DmC4’s original version). If you’re one of those players who absolutely can’t get enough Devil May Cry, you should find some fun in Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition. If, however, you’d rather not waste your money on a game that is 90% rehashed content you’ve likely already played, you’re better off saving your money.