I remember back in my middle school days, I traded one of my friends a copy of Onimusha: Warlords for his Devil May Cry for PS2. I remember being excited to always go to his house and play it until he gave in and offered it to me in exchange for one of my games. In retrospect, I definitely got the better deal there. I was hooked on Devil May Cry's stylish gameplay. That trend continued to its subsequent releases though by the time the fourth game came out, I was more or less done with the series. That makes this return to Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition a relatively new experience to me, meaning I can look at the game from a relatively fresh perspective, rather than simply comparing the new to the old.
If you're familiar with the Devil May Cry series, then you already know that it's a game mostly about stylish combat with quick weapon changes stringing it all together. After all, Hideki Kamiya, the man currently at Platinum Games who directed both Bayonetta games was behind the original Devil May Cry. At the core is Nero and Dante, two playable characters with slightly different skill sets with a storyline that interweaves between the two. The Special Edition adds three more playable characters across two other campaigns; Vergil in one and Lady and Trish in the other.
The big issue though is that despite having five different characters to play as across three campaigns, you are essentially replaying the same levels, as well as retreading those levels and bosses in the same campaign.
Thankfully, each of these characters have a slightly different playstyle that change up the pace of combat. Lady for example is a much slower character than Nero or Dante, focusing more on her ranged weapon with high powered rockets, but can also use the blade attached to the back of the cannon. She can switch between various ranged weapons as well dual pistols and a shotgun. Vergil on the other hand is the polar opposite, quite easily the quickest character in the game with ranged ghost blades, an instant teleport for gap closing and blindingly fast slashes with his katana. If you're not getting a ton of variety in level design, at least the game makes up for it in varied stylish action.
The game certainly looks good. Though I can't recall the visuals of the original version back on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, I can say that the Special Edition looks very sharp with 1080p visuals and 60 frames per second. Despite the sharp visuals though, it's clear that this is a game from the late 2000s, and where this is clear is the level design. The game is largely made up of hallways with fixed camera angles that hark back to games like Resident Evil, and considering they're both Capcom titles, it makes sense.
For those coming back to Devil May Cry 4 from playing previous iterations can try their hand at the Legendary Dark Knight mode, which much to my disappointment, didn't feature Batman anywhere in it. But all kidding aside, this mode is no joke. The amount of monster it throws at you, as well as their speed is downright ridiculous. You can further alter the game by enabling Turbo which speeds up the already fast-paced game to the max. Newcomers need not apply.
Any way you slice it, Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition does retread old ground with some new additions, but what makes the package enticing is the asking price of $24.99. For less than half of a new retail game, you're getting a solid amount of content and some extremely stylish combat.