Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition Review

By Blair Nokes on July 15, 2015

I remember playing Devil May Cry 4 when it first came out in 2008 with a mixed feeling. On the one hand, the gameplay was arguably the deepest and most versatile yet, and the newer enhancements to the core gameplay mechanics like offering the ability to swap stances on the fly or mid combo, and even the introduction of Nero's Devil Bringer offered a new way to play. However the game's plot felt very padded and that was largely due to the fact that all of Dante's missions were basically Nero's in reverse. It was a shame because Dante was so much fun to play. The story was fairly well done, but Devil May Cry 4 always felt like it was missing something; it never felt like the complete package that Devil May Cry 3 was. After 7 years, a reboot and a remake of a reboot, Capcom seems to have finally listened to fans by rereleasing Devil May Cry 4 as a Special Edition remaster of the game. They hoped to entice players both new and old with the addition of 3 extra characters: Vergil, who has his own campaign, and Lady and Trish from the previous entries. All characters come with their own unique opening and ending movies. In a generation that seems to be thriving on remasters, let's take a look at how Devil May Cry 4 fares.

The main campaign is largely untouched. Nero is a young man who works as a demon hunter for The Order of the Sword "“ a religious cult that worships the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda as a god. As he sees his love interest Kyrie perform for The Order's ceremony, their high priest was murdered by former series protagonist Dante, who happens to be one of the twin sons of Sparda. After encountering Dante, Nero learns that the Holy Knights Dante just effortlessly defeated were actually demons in disguise. He eventually discovers that Agnus - The Order's chief technology researcher of the Holy Knights has actually been experimenting with demonic powers by harnessing the power of Yamato "“ the sword that once belonged to Dante's twin brother, Vergil.

Where the campaign largely changes is the incorporation of Lady, Trish, and Vergil. Lady began as a flashback sequence where she came to Dante's famous office at Devil May Cry to offer him a job. She informs him of the Order of the Sword, of their worship to Sparda, and of their recent experimentation with demons and Devil Arms. Upon hearing all of this, Trish silently leaves for the castle town of Fortuna to investigate this Order. With Vergil, he merely visited the Castle of Fortuna before the events of Devil May Cry 3 to investigate The Order of the Sword. Vergil, like Dante years later, wondered why anyone would worship Sparda.

It was neat to see a considerable amount of effort go into inserting the characters into Devil May Cry 4's main storyline, and they all seem to make a lot of sense and flesh out the game rather than feeling like simple additions. It felt less like padding and more like a genuine expansion onto an existing title that greatly increases replay value and the game's total play time. Vergil starts off with Yamato, his trademark blade, the Force Edge "“ Dante's default weapon in the first Devil May Cry, and Beowulf. He plays very much like how he played in Devil May Cry 3's Special edition, and that is a sensible decision seeing as how this would take place before that game. Lady is very firearm focused, utilizing the classic Kalina Ann which is a customized missile launcher, a shotgun, and dual pistols. Trish has a very wide array of weapons at her disposal, and her biggest advantage is that she does not have to worry about swapping weapons via L2/R2 like the other characters. She has access to all weapons at all times. Her main weapon is Sparda "“ legendary sword that belonged to The Dark Knight of the same name. Her legs also have an electrical charge to them for some added combo potential. Her ranged weapons are fairly diverse, offering pistols akin to Dante's Ebony and Ivory, and the weapon Pandora, which can turn into 3 different weapons. One of those transformations will require some devil trigger meter but you're rewarded with an enormous blast of energy.

Aside from beefing up the player roster, Capcom has also updated the game with bonus costumes, and the Legendary Dark Knight difficulty mode, which was previously only found in the PC version of Devil May Cry 4 due to the hardware impediments of the PS3 and Xbox 360. This mode greatly increases the number of enemies on screen for every battle, and is a true test for any veteran of the series. They have also added a newly recorded Japanese voice track for those who wish or prefer to hear it that way.

One odd choice was how they handled something called proud souls. Typically, they were earned after completing a mission in the original version of the game. Capcom has decided to be almost insultingly forgiving in the Special Edition, by granting players proud souls for succeeding, and for dying. Every time you die, you accumulate proud souls that carry over. So essentially you can basically unlock and upgrade a character at the very beginning if you just want to die a lot. Unlocking all of the combos used to be a neat accomplishment in the series, and sure, the practice is sort of there still. It just feels like a lot of hand holding for something I never really thought was a huge issue in the past games. Alternatively, you can also buy proud souls via microtransactions if dying is too much of a task. Red orbs can also be purchased this way as well.

And naturally, the visuals received a nice bump up, sharpening the picture, increasing the draw distance, offering more detailing for character models and textures, increasing the native resolution to 1920x1080, and of course maintaining stable 60 frames per second for the majority of the game. On the PS3, Devil May Cry 4 was already able to perform at 60, but it's nice to see that with all the visual bump ups, and even the addition of the player count in Legendary Dark Knight Mode, that the game's framerate was never sacrificed in place of anything else.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it was very impressive to see a surprising amount of detail that went into this remaster. The addition of 3 extra characters, giving players a total of 5 to play around with, the new difficulty and challenges all show that they really wanted to make this a valuable remastering. And to top it all off, the title is sensibly priced at only $25 as a digital only title.

Three new characters to play.
New characters weren’t just thrown into the mix, and actually have a thoughtful placement.
$25 is a great price for what you get.
The new proud souls system seems to really make the game a lot easier.
Microtransactions for something already made ridiculously attainable isn’t needed, but I guess it’s the way business models are set up these days.
No physical release seems weird especially when the remaster of DmC Devil May Cry received one.
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