If Devil May Cry 4 was rated on first impressions alone, it would not fare well by this critic, as the Sony PlayStation 3 game took more than 22 minutes to load before playing for the first time.
This is normal, confirmed publisher Capcom, but the game's levels load fairly quickly throughout the rest of the lengthy adventure. The issue isn't found in the Microsoft Xbox 360 and PC versions. Fortunately for fans of this Gothic action series, it just keeps getting better after this disappointing start.
Devil May Cry 4 introduces you to a mysterious new demon-killing machine, Nero, who not only has a number of weapons of mass destruction at his disposal — including guns and enormous swords — but he also sports a glowing "Devil Bringer" arm to knock creatures into next week.
With this powerful right arm, Nero can yank a nearby creature toward him, hurl it into the air with superhuman strength and then plug two-dozen bullets into its body before it falls to the ground. A variety of attacks and combo moves can be mastered throughout this 20-chapter game while playing as Nero as well as his nemesis, Dante, the white-haired, half-human half-demon who starred in past Devil May Cry games. (Only after certain goals are accomplished will Dante become a playable character, with his own set of unique fighting techniques and weapons.)
As told through an engrossing introductory short film, the story involves a coastal town run by worshippers of the dark knight Sparda. During a prayer ceremony, Nero witnesses Dante, the son of Sparda, crash through the cathedral and assassinate the cleric leading the ceremony, as well as much of the congregation. Nero swears revenge for Dante's vicious actions and sets out to find him, which of course unravels more of this Gothic tale. This epic battle is highlighted by over-the-top movie sequences such as Nero throwing bullets into the air and catching them all in his revolver's open chamber in a slow-motion The Matrix -like fashion. You will also enjoy playing with Nero's Red Queen sword, which can be revved up like a motorcycle before slashing opponents with the fiery blade.
Played from a third-person perspective, Devil May Cry 4 features many cinematic camera angles that follow Nero (or Dante) around the gorgeous, high-definition environments that range from town squares to seaside ports to snowy mountaintops. You are encouraged to explore the environments as you'll find hidden areas to roam in and even unlock secret missions.
The enormous boss fighters you'll face at the end of most chapters are also a sight to see, including the 100-foot-tall horned fire demon, Berial, the icy Frost creature and the ghostly Mephisto.
At the end of each mission you are graded on style, time of completion and number of magical orbs, which are often left behind by fallen enemies or found in objects such as crates and nooks in the wall.
If PS3 owners can get past the excruciatingly long load time when first playing Devil May Cry 4, you'll find a deep, immersive and stylized action thriller worth playing to its climactic conclusion. Capcom deserves kudos for this entertaining sequel with high production values, but it's too bad we must wait so long before playing.
Contact Saltzman at email@example.com.