Dante's new abilities mean you'll have to find new ways around obstacles, which makes it more forgivable that when he takes over, you'll have to backtrack through the game world - which is divided up into missions but is really one huge, semi-linear environment - from end to beginning. It's a design decision that could have been horrifically lame, especially considering that you have to re-fight all the bosses because Nero failed to kill them the first time around. But because Dante is so fundamentally different from Nero, without access to the same items or the Devil Bringer to help him explore, and because the game reshuffles things a bit on the way back, it doesn't really feel like you're just covering the same ground again, and things stay interesting as a result.
Also keeping things interesting is the upgrade system we briefly mentioned earler. Like in previous DMCs, you'll be able to unlock new abilities for the heroes, which range from cool acrobatic dodges and speed boosts to new sword combos, charged-up pistol shots and - in Dante's case - new fighting styles and special-weapon moves. Even better, when you switch from Dante to Nero, you'll be refunded all of the upgrade points you've spent, which can be then put toward new abilities for Dante - and Nero will retain all of his upgrades when you switch back to him later. You'll also retain your upgrades for subsequent play-throughs at higher difficulty levels, giving you an actual reason to play through a second time.
DMC4 isn't without faults, of course. Backtracking through the game might not be so bad by itself, but fighting the same huge bosses again as Dante - and then fighting them again as Nero, near the end of the game - gets to be a drag. (Granted, though, the final boss fight is one hell of an epic.) Also, the game is packed to the gills with cutscenes that feature dramatic, over-the-top action sequences, and while that sort of thing was great to watch in earlier DMCs, now it just sort of feels like watching someone else play. Maybe we're spoiled, but adding interactive, Resident Evil 4-style bits to the cutscenes would have gone a long way toward keeping usfrom skipping them the second time around.
Finally, there's thenow-infamous install-time issueon the PS3 version of the game. Seeing as you only have to do it once, spending roughly 22 minutes watching a recap and listening to Kyrie's song isn't that big of an issue. But considering that the 360 and PS3 versions are essentially identical, and the 360 version performs almost as quickly with no installation, it's still an irritating setback that we can only guess has something to do with Blu-ray load times versus those of a DVD.
Installation or no, though, Devil May Cry 4 is overall a kickass action package that manages to look extremely pretty while still being a lot of fun. All ofthe elements that have made the series great are here -the sense of humor, theslick sense of style and the ridiculously over-the-top action - and the game isat once instantly accessible and surprisingly deep, thanks to a more-elaborate-than-it-lets-on combo system.Add a bunch of secret missions and a fairly compelling (if somewhat shallow) story, and Dante's fanswon't come awaydisappointed.