All this negativity is rather unfortunate, because, in our view, the game's failings were totally avoidable and come across as lazy game design for the most part. Bad form Capcom. But that doesn't stop us believing that the game is the best in the series since the first one - yes, despite all these problems, it's that good.
DMC4's plot, bafflingly Japanese as it is, revolves around Nero's love for Kyrie, a damsel in distress in every sense of the phrase. The game opens with the assassination of Sanctus, the head of the corrupt Order of the Sword religious cult, by Dante during a sermon in a cathedral. Then, in the chaos, demons attack. Eventually, when the dust settles, Nero is sent to sort out Dante. We're under orders to keep the story under the most secure of wraps, but what we will reveal is that Nero eventually uncovers some nasty stuff within the Order itself, Kyrie is kidnapped and, as you'd expect, there's more than one face off between the two white-haired demon hunters. But what are Dante's motives? Why did he kill Sanctus? And exactly why does Nero have a glowing, demon arm in the first place? We know some of these answers because we've finished the game. But there are still tonnes of unanswered questions left posed following its completion. Perhaps too many for our liking. Still - the story, told through gorgeous rendered in-game cut scenes, won't win any Oscars, but is everything a DMC fan could want.
Have we mentioned the game's graphics? Shame on us. On consoles DMC4 was a next-gen master class, effortlessly whizzing along at 60 framers per second at all times. If you've got a decent PC then you'll get exactly the same experience, if not an even better one. The characters are gorgeous, the environments wonderfully detailed and the bosses breathtakingly realised. The PC game even includes a new Legendary difficulty mode which throws even more enemies at you than normal - something that perhaps consoles might have struggled with. On a top-end PC capable of running the game with all its graphical bells and whistles turned up to max, Devil May Cry 4 on the PC is the best version available. It's worth noting that the game is only really worth playing if you have a game pad, ideally an Xbox 360 controller. The game supports keyboard controls (not mouse), but it's an altogether inferior experience.
We finished the game in just over 16 hours on the Devil Hunter (medium) difficulty. Expect some rock hard difficulties to follow if you're so inclined. There's tonnes of replay value too, including earning enough Proud Souls to unlock all Dante and Nero's abilities and combos, beating your level scores, which can be uploaded to online leader boards, and generally just having a load of fun trying to improve your timing, combos and stylish ratings. It's densely packed for a modern action game, that's for sure.
You'll need to master the entire move list in order to play through on the harder difficulty settings
In many ways, we think DMC4 is one of those games you'll keep coming back to. It's got a strange addictive quality to it in that way, and, once completed, has a lot in common with the pick up and play for a quick 30 minutes feel that something like PES or FIFA has. Capcom has done such a wonderful job recreating what makes DMC great, it makes all the game's failings a much harder pill to swallow.
Here's a theory - DMC4's game world feels like it was built from the ground up for Nero, with bosses and level design tailored to his Devil Bringer attacks. Perhaps Capcom, at some point through the game's development simply thought they couldn't release it without having fan favourite Dante playable at some point. And so, rather than redesign the game, they had our stubbly anti-hero thrown into environments and facing enemies that weren't designed to get the most out of him.
It's a crying shame, because with a little more effort, DMC4 could have been truly excellent. As it is it's a brilliant, addictive, just plain cool hack and slash action game which goes some way to bringing the series back to its initial lustre. It also stands alone on the PC. Whereas console gamers have the likes of Ninja Gaiden and God of War to fight for their attention, on PC Capcom is the only developer to have seen value in bringing its hack and slash over from consoles. Capcom has done nothing to make it more appealing for those who have passed on the series in the past, has been very brave with its decision to replace Dante with Nero, and, in many areas, been extremely slack in terms of game design, but, on the whole, DMC4 will leave fans with a smirk the great demon hunter himself would be proud of.