Devil May Cry 4 - updated hands-on

Also unlike DMC3, the game is a lot more open, with its entire world consisting of a long, semi-linear trail through a besieged city, some dockyards, a couple of castles and a jungle. The action and story are still divided into "missions," but you're more or less free to backtrack through the assorted levels whenever you want. This comes into play when Dante takes the reins about 60 percent of the way through the game, at which point you'll need to head back from the end of the game world to its beginning, often fighting the same bosses on the way because Nero failed to finish them off. It sounds lame, but calm down - given Dante and Nero's completely different skill-sets and the new challenges you'll face, this never actually feels like backtracking. Besides, you'll have the bouncing bustlines of Trish and Lady  to distract you during cutscenes.

At first blush, Nero himself plays a lot like Dante with a few new tricks up his sleeve, but he's more nimble than his older counterpart, able to pull off more agile moves and combos. He's also limited to using his default sword and gun, although he makes up for this with his "Devil Bringer" demon arm. Not only does this enable Nero to beat up his foes with a giant, ghostly fist, but it can also be used, Bionic Commando-style, for pulling Nero along glowing grapple points and yanking enemies toward him (or, if they're bigger than Nero, yanking him toward them, which comes in handy a lot during boss fights).

Close up, the demon arm lets you perform all sorts of cool grappling moves on demons, which vary depending on their species; huge ice demons, for example, will get smashed against the ground repeatedly until Nero throws them, while certain other enemies will have their weapons snatched away and brutally used against them. Still others can be grabbed out of the air and hurled as projectile weapons, and some just get disdainfully ripped in half; bosses, meanwhile, get slammed around with elaborate, cinematic spectral beatdowns. Experimenting to see what happens is a big part of the fun, and it gets more interesting as you upgrade Nero with new abilities.


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