Devil May give you a different path to walk down
For now, the main purpose of the demo is to show off some locations and a range of the new moves available to Nero. So, as well as Snatch, we get to try out Buster, a move that allows you to grab and throw enemies on the ground, as well as Streak and High Roller - the former of which is similar to Stinger if you know your DMCs. Meanwhile, one fiendish new gun move, Exceed, allows you to literally rev your sword like a chainsaw with the analogue R2 trigger, an effect that produces a roaring sound effect and makes us wish that Sony would hurry up and put rumble back in the SixAxis. A little on-screen dial (like a rev counter) lets the player know how much power they can deal on their foe, and well-timed revs appear to be the key to ramping up the power to the max before you finally unleash hell.
Typically, anything that looks like it might involve puzzling in DMC 4 is solved with angry, brute force. For example, a location that could have been in any Resident Evil game shows an uncooperative machine which would lower the bridge were it working properly. Normally, you'd expect, perhaps, to go on an object hunt and come back once you've located the three emblems, scattered around in improbable parts of a dusty mansion. Here, the solution is to just whack it hard. Job done. As chucklesome as such moments are, it does highlight an issue with DMC's dedication to relentless combat. While God of War and even Onimusha have an ebb and flow to the gameplay, DMC's focus is pure combat, almost to a fault. If that's what you want, though, you won't be disappointed.
Devil May have ice bound levels and enemies from time to time
Unsurprisingly, the game's pace doesn't let up at all, and we move on to a snow bound level, on a full moonlit mountain top that harks back to when Capcom very first showed off the game in 2005. We witness a building utterly collapsing, a large creature emerge, with three-blades where hands should arguably be. Known as 'The Frost', we have to dodge his freeze attacks repeatedly, and counter when the opportunity arises. Using the devil bringer to swing enemy around, you have to run near them, hammer circle button and choose which direction to throw them, which results in an awful lot of painful-looking aerial throws.
Shortly after that, we get to meet the inevitable boss. Known to his friends as Berial, and probably slightly uncomplimentary names to his foes, this gigantic, screen-filling demon arrives in a ball of flames, sporting huge horns, a throaty deep voice, and stands menacingly on four legs. Just like Dante, Nero's a cocky wise-cracking sonofagun, and quips: "How curious, fire's bad for the complexion, I burn easily". As their sword tips touch, fiery hell breaks loose, and you're tasked with trying to dodge his rather painful looking attacks with a mixture of stick-based roll evades, plenty of jumping and a little prior knowledge of his lumbering movements and attack patterns. Standing in front of Berial seems to be a one way ticket to Singe City, so working your way around the rear, jumping up and slashing repeatedly eventually removes his flame coat for a brief period. At that point, you can use you Buster attack and drag his flame grilled face down on to the ground, and slash a bit more to chop his rather intimidating health bar down.
Problematically, he gets rather more annoyed the closer he gets to his death, so you have to hope that all the buildings that Berial smashes into give you enough health orbs to make up for the damage you incur. As you'd expect from a DMC game, it's by no means an easy encounter, so expect plenty of button mashing angst before it all falls into place.
Devil May include Dante as a playable character
Enough about Nero, what happened to Dante? Well, he is in the game, and will be a playable character at some stage, though how fits into the storyline isn't clear yet, but appears to be an enemy of Nero at some point before being available to play. We've also been told that DMC 4 is set between 1 and 2, and Dante will come complete with his traditional gun and sword attacks. Whether there will be a co-op mode remains to be seen.
Like a lot of games we've seen on the new consoles, Devil May Cry 4 represents a series evolution rather than anything truly new. For many, that will be more than enough to generate excitement - after all, we're talking about one of the most stylish, intense combat action games around. For many, though, sticking to an ageing formula will be perceived as a missed opportunity to take the series into a bold new direction - or at the very least fix some of the basics like the camera system. Whatever your standpoint, it still feels like a solid entertaining revision to the series, if not an especially surprising one. Let's hope Capcom has a few up its sleeve when it releases the game early next year.