Devil May Cry 4 Reduxby Mischief Maker 01/23/2013, 11:38am PST
Zaarock at the Shmups forum wrote:
DMC1 is more interesting than the others in this respect IMO, you don't have long combos and the enemy design is interesting (+ most have some sort of weakness you can use to kill them quick which takes some setting up)
Obiwanshinobi at the Shmups forum wrote:
Shinobi (PS2) isn't quite the same genre, though. Has more in common with THPS than 2D brawlers of yore.
Several years ago I wrote a review of Devil May Cry 4 that was published by Caltrops.com and Insomnia.ac. Now I realize that when writing that review I didn't get it. Thanks to this discussion of DMC5 and this analysis of Hotline Miami, I've finally figured out what Devil May Cry 4 is about. And by "about" I'm talking in terms of gameplay (ludology). I approached part 4 as someone who finished a single run-through of DMC1 but really loved DMC3, which I played to death. In that context, I could not understand what the hell they were doing by adding the character of Nero. Now I understand.
I've not played DMC2 (which allegedly sucked) but I can definitely say Devil May Cry 1 and 3 are very different games. DMC1 had over-the-top moves, but it was more about setting up the "right" way of taking out each enemy. Weapons weren't meant to be switched all over the place, it was more of a case of identify the monsters in the room, open the menu select the appropriate weapons, then go to work. For example the "right" thing to do when Phantom starts building a fireball in his mouth is to do a stinger lunge with Alastor sword to cause the fireball to blow up in his face. The "right" thing to do against a ghost is a helm-breaker at its mask during the the correct frame to instakill it. Take out an enemy the "right" way and you get style points. Deviate from the correct way and you lose the style. In addition to the puzzles in the fights, the stages also involve a lot more puzzle elements than part 3. Story-wise, DMC1 Dante takes things way more seriously than his part 3 counterpart, for every scene where he's sneering at gigantic lava spiders to their face there's another scene where he's crying and screaming, "I should have been the one to fill your dark soul with liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!" I can see now why score-hating 1cc completionist icycalm loved DMC1 so much more than 3 that he couldn't stop himself from butting into my review every other paragraph.
In Devil May Cry 3, you play Dante while he was still a crazy teenager during the 80s (or however late into the 90s the 80s lasted in japan) and the gameplay is very much a combat version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater; focusing on this whole concept of combat "style" and DMC's signature move of knocking an enemy into the air and keeping them afloat with a cushion of bullets. Just like THPS, DMC is all about stringing together freeform combos and raising your style rating to the coveted SSS provided you aren't just spamming the same move over and over again. To help this emphasis Dante now has a larger selection of weapons, can switch between weapons mid-combo and has an additional selection of "style" moves to further mix things up. You won't find many videos on Youtube of people showing off killing enemys the "right" way in DMC1, but the net is absolutely filthy with DMC3 combo vids where people show off their own individual flair. The cutscenes are absolutely bonkers in the best possible way and even the weepiest and most emo of the cutscenes happen in the midst of an insane gunkata rountine.
With this in mind, Devil May Cry 4 was clearly a 4th-wall breaking experiment asking "what if we threw both DMC1 Dante and DMC3 Dante into the same story? Who would come out on top?" Suddenly it makes sense that Nero looks almost exactly like Dante because he's an expanded version of DMC1 Dante. He only has one gun and one sword the whole game because DMC1 wasn't about switching weapons. Most enemies have a "right" way of being defeated by Nero with major style rewards if you do it correctly. For example, if a phalanx of Angelos combine and shoot their black hole bullet at you, if you rebound it back at them with a level 3 charged shot you instakill the entire phalanx and get an automatic AAA. Nero does some limited mouthing off at the bosses, but he's clearly taking the story very seriously. Dante, meanwhile is DMC3 crazy Dante with an even more expanded move set (now you can switch styles in addition to weapons!) and treats Nero's emotional conflict as a joke and a chance to show off. There aren't any correct instakills for DMC3 Dante, go take this big briefcase of moves and show us what you got. I'd say the biggest accomplishment of DMC4 is designing enemies that work equally well in both playstyles. The plot is clearly an afterthought, especially considering they forgot to include the very important plot detail that Nero is Vergil's bastard lovechild. Like the janitors in Hotline Miami, the mad scientists in DMC4 are developer stand ins, doing their crazy experiment of running the two Dantes through their obstacle course. In one of the best cutscenes of all time, Dante confronts mad scientist Agnus over the fact that his evil plan makes no sense and Agnus responds essentially, "Hey, with God of War, Ninja Gaiden, and other over-the-top 3d brawlers crowding the marketplace, people were starting to forget that Devil May Cry started it all. The only way to remind them who's the king is to set up SOME kind of conflict!"
The weird thing is, while DMC4's cutscenes seemed to conclude that DMC3 Dante was superior to DMC1 Dante, Bayonetta clearly was picking up where Nero left off.
So THAT's why Devil May Cry 5 is such a disappointment. It's neither a brutally unforgiving R-Type style combat puzzler in the style of DMC1, and it's not a THPS combo fest with its borked style system. It's yet another 3rd-tier God of War QTE-a-thon. Still, its release I view as a net positive, personally. All this analysis made me appreciate my old PC copy of DMC4 that much more!