Whatever the series may have been in the past, the demo we played of Devil May Cry 4 was rightfully light on the crappy Resident Evil-style puzzles and heavy on the combat. And the Devil Bringer, via the Hell Bound teleport move, enables you to cross levels swiftly - which hopefully will open up more engrossing exploration as the game hits its stride (it was pretty basic in what we played.)
We think we've already answered this question, but yes - Nero can stand alongside Dante proudly. Of course, the story we've seen so far has him chasing and fighting Dante - and little else - but that's a mystery that will have to be solved later. So too will learning what's up with Nero's demonic right arm - there was no hint of the full-on transformation into a demon that Dante can go through in the prior games. But know this: we were given a small taste of Dante's play through a short demo controlled by one of the developers, and we can assure that Dante is ready to fight. While his levels weren't done - the ones he was showed off in were "geared towards Nero" according to Kobayashi - and we saw very little of his advanced moves, the original Devil May Cry man is whole and present in DMC4 even at this early stage. His fighting style changes from DMC3 are intact, and on-the-fly weapon-switching is also on deck, too.
What did we take away from our time with Devil May Cry 4? This is a game made by a man who cut his teeth on fighting games, and combat is the number one priority here. Throwing an enemy up into the air, slashing it with a sword, following that with a few quick shots and yanking and slamming it back into the ground is extremely addictive. The Devil Bringer is fully integrated - essential - to the combat, and is the key to what makes DMC4 feel fresh. The graphics, of course, are packed with detail and flash. Our complaint: the demo we played was piecemeal and clearly forged from disconnected areas of the game, so we just couldn't figure out if the intense pace of the demo will translate to the final game. But right now, what we played was beautifully speedy and responsive. It was tough - but the kind of challenge you want to return to. We're ready to come back.