As much as I am a fan of classic Dante and his stylish devil hunting flair, my time with Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition has made me realize how much I really don’t want to go back to that rendition of the series. The original Devil May Cry 4 was released by Capcom back in February 2008 for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game received a lot of praise from critics for continuing the story after Devil May Cry 2 and adding new playable character Nero that was different from Dante.
When I played the original game back when it was released, I liked it what it brought to the table for the series, but since 2008 a lot of things have radically changed. Purist fans out there may rejoice that Capcom is releasing a more classical styled Devil May Cry game with no relation to Ninja Theory’s take on the series, but those who are a little open minded may find a few issues with this special HD rerelease.
The core game of Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is identical to the original game’s release, only now everything has been polished and smoothed out in HD. There are areas throughout the game where the environments and enemies will look to have a bland assortment of colors on screen, but these moments are far and few between some of the game’s better looking segments. The special edition of Devil May Cry 4 comes with some extra content that may please some hardcore fans, but others will find the extras a bit too meager to warrant another purchase.
The main story follows new character Nero and everyone’s favorite demon slayer Dante in a setting that takes place long after the events of Devil May Cry 2. For those that don’t already know, the third installment of the series is actually a prequel to the original Devil May Cry, which leaves Devil May Cry 2 as the final game in the series timeline of events.
The story in the special edition is identical without any extra story content or extended cutscenes for Dante or Nero that would otherwise make this a “special” release of the game. What is brand new for the special edition is the addition of new playable characters Trish, Lady, and Dante’s demon twin brother Vergil. With all of the new characters for Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition you have a new opening and ending cutscene, fighting styles and moves, as well as extra costumes for each of the three new characters.
Playing with Dante’s brother Vergil was very similar to playing with him in Devil May Cry 3, as his fighting styles and weapons are almost identical with a few minor changes. As you land attacks and destroy enemies with varying moves, a Concentration meter builds up and increases the strength of all of Vergil’s attacks. This can be great when fighting groups enemies, at least until the Concentration meter drains every time Vergil walks or gets hit by an enemy.
Both Lady and Trish also get their unique fighting styles and mechanics in their own playthroughs. The Devil Trigger ability is different for both ladies, but each has devastating power effects when used in combat. Trish plays in a way reminiscent of Devil May Cry 1 and has a Devil Trigger effect similar to Dante’s, where she has powered up attacks and increased speed. Lady is the most different from the rest of the cast, as she is human and uses a variety of weapons and a grapple hook at her disposal. Her Devil Trigger ability has her throwing explosives around her and severely damaging anything caught with the blast radius nearby. Of the two ladies, Lady is by far the most interesting to play with and offers vastly different combat than everyone else.
Yet despite these new characters and fighting styles, the game never feels like a true special edition that is fresh on new consoles. There are no new plot expositions about the characters, nor is there any explanation as to why some of the new ones are there during the events that of Devil May Cry 4. How did Vergil get there and what part does he play in the full story? Don’t expect any answers at all, because the game doesn’t give you anything story related to help you learn more and figure it out.
All of the awkward camera angle placements are still around and still as annoying as ever, even in sections that give you the ability to rotate the camera. This issue was remedied better in Ninja Theory’s take on Devil May Cry, where the camera feels a bit more stable and less constrictive when fighting against enemies or bosses. Some enemies still have weird attack hit boxes and can mess up your combos even when you think you are at a safe distance.
There were plenty of moments I would time a dodge to an attack in order to maintain a combo chain, and yet still get hurt despite the attack never visually touching me. It’s clear that none of the issues from the original game were fixed or even attempted to be address, what you get here is a clear copy and paste with some shinier visuals.
Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is not a bad game, but it’s not something you should purchase again if you’ve already dipped into the original release. The new content for the special edition is pretty neat and offers something that super hardcore fans will love, but it doesn’t feel like enough to dive into this chapter of the series again. Playing as Vergil, Trish, and Lady is very cool and adds a variety to the combat, but is ultimately defused by having to play through the exact same levels and scenarios from the original release. I wish there was some extra story missions or unique bonus rooms that were tailored to the new characters that would really allow me to showcase what they are capable of.
What is here feels like it could just have been easily made available as DLC for the original game and not made into a full retail release. Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition does have some nice style to it, but it really is just a rereleased game that simply wasn’t needed.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition for Xbox One provided by Capcom.