Devil May Cry 4: What has happened here?

DMCrose.jpg

If you’re looking for my review, wait a few days. It should be in this week. However, the thing about newspapers is that they have space issues — and if you read the review, you’ll be able to tell that I was a little frustrated while playing this. So, now’s the chance to get some things off my chest.

Backtracking: Really, enough. No one’s being fooled. It’s almost the same game in the second half, except you’ve switched characters, added some purple smoke in one mission and have me fight a big statue at the end (BTW, sorry for any spoilers. But the game’s been out for a while — get over it). Don’t even get me started on Mission 19.

I’m a sucker for beautiful scenery. Mass Effect, God of War 2, Gears, Assassin’s Creed all have beautiful landscapes … but that doesn’t mean I want to keep staring at them. That’s what knocked down ME and AC in my mental rankings. Everything in Mass Effect’s side quests started to look the same, no matter how well-crafted the starship or space station was. Jerusalem and Damascus were glorious pieces of eye candy in AC, but their allure wore off after I saw them the first time.

However, what made the repetition tolerable for those games was the opportunity to explore. You don’t explore in DMC4, at least not when you’re going through the game as Dante. You fight enemies in levels that Nero got to see before you. Big deal … at least you can envelop yourself in the bad-assitude of Dante, right? That leads me to my next bit of randomness.

Dante who?: Why doesn’t anyone know who Dante is? He’s the Son of Sparda, a legendary demonic knight who apparently EVERYONE knew when he was alive. In the first game, Dante KILLED Mundus, the king of demons! But when you fight the bosses again, they all generally greet you by saying either “Who the hell are you?!” or “I’ve haven’t seen anyone of your power … who are you?” Really? Berial, covered in flames, doesn’t know the guy that took out his boss? The snake lady has absolutely no idea who the guy with white hair, red trenchcoat, two pistols and a huge freakin’ sword is? No bells ringing? The game makes a few references as to how well-known Dante is, but apparently, the hype didn’t reach the place that worships his dad? Sure. Let’s roll with that.

The Law of Disproportionate Cinematic Power: You’ll find this in a lot of games, but it’s at its most obvious in the DMC series. It’s when you see the characters dispatch powerful enemies (even bosses) with very little effort or ammo during a cinema scene — even though you know it’ll take a lot more than that when you switch back to regular gameplay. I especially like how one no-look shot from Dante’s pistol can finish off a boss, even though those pistols do practically NO damage when you’re actually fighting said bosses. It’s altease. It’s like the game is saying, “See this? You CAN’T do this!”

The revving of Nero’s sword: I tried this twice. Did nothing for me. I mean, at all. So … instead of ripping off a combo, I have the option of spending a few seconds “revving up” my sword so I can get a few faster and marginally stronger slices? Can I at least get some demons getting cut in half? Maybe some more fire would have been cool. Sorry, if I’m going to rev up any apparatus in a game, the payoff needs to be bigger. Like the Gears chainsaw.

Dice do not rule: Mission 19′s dice game makes no sense. There’s really no rhyme or reason as to when you get thrown into the boss battle. You roll a two, you can move two spots on the big circle, where you’re not even close to the portal, then randomly bypass all the other spaces on the board and start fighting. Why even roll if it doesn’t really matter what you come up with?

Lady … um, yeah: I’m not going to expound too much on this, other than the fact that Lady went from being a cuteish badass chick in DMC3 to looking like an extreme porn star in this one. I don’t even think I can post pictures here.

Review: Burnout Paradise (Xbox 360)

Burnout Paradise reminds me of a theme park. You’ve got plenty of rides, it’s best enjoyed with friends … and the fun ends too quickly.

This is an example of a game’s biggest strength also serving as its Achilles heel. Yes, it promises and delivers unbridled freedom to players. However, it’s free-roaming concept also shortens its own lifespan. It’s the epitome of what you see is what you get. The question is, do you get enough?

You’re placed in the beautifully crafted confines of Paradise City, complete with everything from a beach to a baseball stadium to winding mountain roads. There are no tracks, only a litany of intersections that lead to race events like the Burning Route (time trial) and Road Rage (take down your enemies for the win). One new event is the Stunt Run, where you barrel roll and flatspin your way to points. Then there’s Marked Man, where you have to survive a run from one point of the map to another while avoiding attacking drivers.

Perhaps the most jarring change is the elimination of the crash event. Instead, we get Showtime mode, where you essentially turn your car into a tumbling harbinger of vehicular death. You can launch your vehicle off the ground and hurtle into oncoming traffic, causing millions in damages. It’s not nearly as grand as the old crash events, which mixed a feeling of feral power with a dash of theater showmanship.

The beauty of the Paradise City setup is that it allows you to choose your path to a better license and more cars. If you hate Stunt Run, then you can try Road Rage or Marked Man for your jollies. The city is rife with jumps, shortcuts and various landscapes, so you can explore to your heart’s content. Online play is practically seamless, as you’re able to use the D-pad to hop on with your friends while driving around.

Just one major problem all of this gets old, and it gets old fast. While you have more than 100 points of interest on the map, they’re all variations of the same handful of events. As fun as Road Rage can be, killing 15-20 cars repeatedly gets a little boring. Strangely, I also thought the game’s speed actually worked against it. I saw lots of Paradise City in a very short time, so the scenery quickly lost its luster. And you can’t play Road Rage online? Really?

I wanted to like this game, and I did … for a few days. When the mood hits, maybe I’ll come back to it. I said the same thing about Disney World. I haven’t been back in years.

Score: 7/10.