If you don't fancy reading the review (we know reading can be a chore sometimes), head over to our Devil May Cry 4 video review, where you can sit back and let us do the reading for you.
Dante, lead demon slayer of the Devil May Cry series, is one hell of a bad ass. His sword slicing, gun-juggling, devil-transforming antics have made him a hero for millions of adrenaline junkies across the world. For three games now (first one wicked, second one disappointing, third one ultra hard) Dante has been laying waste to the demon horde like it's never gone out of fashion. And along the way he's accumulated a loyal following - a fan base if you will. His public adore him. And it's not just because he gets the job done - sending the evil minions of hell packing on a regular basis. It's because, in true Will Smith fashion, he makes it look good. He's a showman - when not nonchalantly sitting cross-legged a top a stone structure, oversized sword resting on his shoulder and a coy smirk on his face, he's taunting and wise-cracking his way into the bad books of the biggest, baddest bosses the bods at Japanese publisher Capcom can come up with. In short, Dante is one of the best, coolest video game characters ever to grace a game console.
Which makes Capcom's decision to replace him as lead playable character in the franchise's first next-gen outing with Nero, a sort of "Dante-lite" demon hunter from the corrupt religious cult The Order of the Sword, either incredibly brave or ridiculously risky. Fear not Dante stalkers! He's not been entirely banished. Dante turns up as a playable character for just under a third of the game, but Nero remains DMC4's central character, and one you'll be spending much more time with. For newcomers to the series it may be less of an issue, but let's be frank here, for serious, die-hard DMC fans, letting Dante go is a shocking decision.
Before the bitching, flaming and all that other horrible angry Internet stuff commences, let's give our Nero a chance. He's very similar to Dante - sort of like a younger, more brash and naïve version (and sans the stubble). He has silver hair, like Dante, wields weapons with funny names, like Dante - Nero has Blue Rose, a rapid-fire, double-barrelled six-shooter and Red Queen, a giant sword that can be revved like the handlebar of a motorbike - at his disposal. He can jump, dodge, air-juggle, infinite combo and, like Dante, generally make a mockery of any demons that might be stupid enough to cross his path. But there are a few key differences which combine to make Nero his own man.
Chief of these is the Devil Bringer, which grants Nero's left arm a blue glow grapple hook effect which he uses to drag himself towards enemies or drag enemies towards him. With it, Nero can initiate a combo string, air juggle and then drag himself towards the next target without pausing for breath. He also has special close range grapple attacks which are different for each enemy. These range for the spectacular and downright savage-looking to the mundane, but they do help to give Nero some individuality to his carnage repertoire.
Here's a few examples - early on in the game, you'll get to fight a boss called Berial, a giant fiery Balrog-type demon with a massive sword. Berial is your typical DMC boss - big, spectacular and predictable. Once you've worked the pattern of his attacks and adjusted to the timing of the required dodges, you should be ok, at least on the easy to normal difficulty levels. Weaken him with repeated slashes, and you'll be able to grapple and initiate a special attack - hurling the huge demon into the air then slamming him into the ground. It's amazing to look at, and heart-thumping to experience first hand.
Getting to a boss or a mini-boss demon and seeing what happens when you grapple them is what keeps Nero's combat interesting through the first play through. We won't spoil anything for you, but Nero brutally pummels one of the bosses during a mission about half way through the game in an attack that ends with a super-slow motion punch to the face that'll have you wincing every time you see it. This is what the DMC games are all about - over-the-top, brutal, Japanese-style violence. And we love it.