Hands-On Preview: Button mash your way through the hordes of Hell
Capcom's multimillion-selling console hit Devil May Cry 4 is making its way to the PC next month, and the developer is promising a class act. There will be two new play modes, some changes to the level layout, and improvements to the cutscenes to take advantage of the PCs power. Recently, I got my hands on a strictly-for PC demo to take a look at what it had to offer.
First things first: this game looks good on a high-resolution computer monitor. With the antialiasing cranked up at a resolution of 1680x1050, the scenes and characters have an impressive amount of detail. The first segment of the demo takes place in a cathedral-like area, and it shows off some nice environmental details like stained-glass windows and complex brickwork and grillwork. The second segment of the demo is a boss battle against a massive demon named Berial. Every inch of his thirty-foot tall frame is covered with some kind of cool visual effect. His skin and muscles have a wrinkly texture that glows and ebbs with his movements. What appear to be rivulets of lava stream down his shoulders, and he exudes fire from all his pores. When he's gravely wounded, though, he collapses and loses the fiery effect for a moment, and his skin appears smooth and hard, like a cooled lava flow.
The battle against Berial makes up the bulk of the second part of the demo, and the first part is nowhere near the same scale of spectacle. It seems to be part of an early level, since it trains the player how to control Nero, the new main character with the demon arm and giant sword. It's mostly a linear fight through a few urban areas, and doesn't seem like it offers a real look at the extreme combat that makes Devil May Cry such a popular series. To be fair, the transfer to PC looks good: the gamepad works great (though it's set up for a 360 controller) and there are plenty of options to tweak video performance. But the fights this level offers up just aren't all that interesting. They involve just a few relatively weak enemies at a time. It's simple to keep most at bay while dealing with one or two, especially once you've figured out the ?Bash? move. It's basically a power slam that deals a whole lot of damage and can defeat any of the demons in the demo (aside from Berial) with just a few button presses. Capcom has promised that the PC version will include a mode called ?Legendary Dark Knight? that will increase the number of bad guys in fights, but this was nowhere to be seen. The final PC release will also include a Turbo Mode which will speed up the action for an increased challenge.
There's also a benchmark program that can be downloaded separately from the demo that has shows off a few more varied environments and also a fight with more characters. One scene features a fight in a forest area that looks pretty nice. Another shows a battle that involves at least twenty different characters swirling around Nero and mixing it up. The benchmark might also be useful for anyone doubtful about their system specs, since it allows you to tweak game settings and then run some tests to determine what kind of framerates you can expect.
If the first segment of the demo seems more or less a chance to show off the game's graphics rather than gameplay, the second segment's battle against Berial is more of a challenge. It'll take a few tries to figure out a good way to defeat him as you figure out the best way to damage him while avoiding his sword and other attacks. You can stun him and move in to hit him when he's down, but you have to watch out for an area attack as he gets back on his feet. His attacks are capable of knocking down nearby buildings, and before the fight is over, the combat area will be nothing but a pile of debris. The problem with this fight is that it will take multiple attempts, and it's prefaced by a lengthy, unskippable cutscene. Hopefully, this is just a demo issue and will be fixed by the final version.