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Looking back at 10 years of… Devil May Cry 4

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Next up on TheXboxHub’s look back at games celebrating an anniversary is Devil May Cry 4. It may not be the most obvious place to start in the series, but as it was the first in the series to release on any Xbox platform, that is good enough for us.

In the week that was its Western release: Michael Jackson released Thriller 25, a 25th anniversary celebration of the biggest selling album of all time, Thriller, and Roy Scheider passed away at the age of 75. In gaming, the only other major release was the rebooted Turok game.

Originally planned as the next Resident Evil game, the team at Capcom knew that what they were creating was too much of a huge shift in gameplay and decided to create a new franchise.

Devil May Cry 4 released in Japan on 31st January 2008, and a week later on Western and Australasian shores. It also enjoyed a Special Edition release on the Xbox One in June 2015, but we will be focusing on the 10th anniversary of the 360 release. It is a highly stylized hack and slash title with a focus on high difficulty and grading you on every flurry of attacks you perform, much like the rest of the series. So you have to deal with tricky demons and enemies, and do it whilst looking cool.

Chronologically, Devil May Cry 4 is the third game in the series before the rebooted DmC game came about in 2013 – following on from Devil May Cry 3 which was a prequel to the original Devil May Cry, but before Devil May Cry 2, continuing the story of lead protagonist Dante whilst also introducing a new character called Nero.

In the opening moments, Nero and Dante have a fight, leading players into thinking Nero is the primary antagonist. As the game continues however, and you find yourself taking control of Nero more and more, you discover that Nero and Dante have the same aim – to destroy the Order of the Sword and their leader Sanctus, whom Nero follows begrudgingly.

Initially at odds with Dante, Nero soon discovers the truth and by the end of the game, Dante entrusts Nero with the Yamato, a long-lost Devil Arm that once belonged to Dante’s twin brother Virgil.

Playing through most of the game as Nero and then being gifted Yamato by Dante at the end, it always felt to me that Devil May Cry 4 was almost a passing of the torch moment for the series, with subsequent entries into the franchise having Nero as the main protagonist. Other series entries also had multiple playable characters – Devil May Cry 2 for example had two discs for the two characters, Dante and Lucia – however, they were always viewed as supporting characters to Dante. Nero felt much more like a main character, and had a completely different battle mechanic with the Devil Arm to further separate himself from what had come before. Had this version of the franchise continued, I am sure that we would have seen a lot more of Nero, perhaps being given missions directly from Dante himself and his devil-hunting business.

Another reason that Devil May Cry 4 felt like a shift for the series was that I remember it being a lot brighter. Instead of just relying on gothic architecture and a darker colour palette, Devil May Cry 4 featured a lot of fauna to run through and even climbing up the final boss was done during daylight hours. These moments stand out to me more than any gothic street and tower in the distance ever did. It helped that the final boss needed to be climbed, as they were several hundred feet tall, and the camera pointing into the sky was a by-product of this.

There are reasons for this though, but one of those is also the biggest criticism of the game. These jungle-esque levels were used repeatedly throughout the game, as you were running to and from locations, passing through the same spots. In a linear game cut into 20 separate levels that starts and ends in roughly the same location, this is to be expected though. Linearity in a game is something I feel should never be held as a criticism against it when it does a good job of telling a story.

Maybe it’s just because we have become too desensitised with the plethora of open-world offerings out there? But hey, that’s a conversation for another time.

At the moment, the franchise itself appears to be in a bit of limbo, and I don’t just mean that as a reference to reboot game DmC and its setting, but it has been five years since a new release in the series. Since then, DmC and Devil May Cry 4 have been re-released on current gen consoles as Complete Editions featuring some extra features. Speculation was rife at the end of 2017 that Devil May Cry 5 was due to be announced imminently, but then where did that leave the rebooted series?

Instead, we got an announcement that the Devil May Cry HD Collection – a collection of the first three games originally released on PS2 and then again on PS3 and Xbox 360 – is due to be released again on PS4 and Xbox One on 13th March 2018. This means that all games in the series are now on the Xbox One, but there is still no sign of a new game.

Given time – and hopefully a couple more releases – I feel that the Devil May Cry franchise could be up there with the greats. Arguably, it is underrated as it is. Dante epitomises the term ‘bad-ass’ with his personality and ability to kill demons whilst looking cool, calm and sophisticated. Nero also came across well in Devil May Cry 4 and the chemistry between the two needs to be explored more. But for now, fans of the series will just have to settle with playing through the first three again on a third console.

Dull or stylish? Let us know in the comments below!

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