In recent memory, we've seen publishers reaching back one or two years at best when looking for HD remake source material. Some may view this trend as an easier way for studios to churn out "new" content as production costs continue to skyrocket, but if you've never played the game in question, being treated to a slick, visually modernized version of that semi-dated experience can make for a tantalizing proposition.
And that's about where I stand with Devil May Cry 4. After a few years of sideline-sitting, I took a leap into the Xbox 360 generation midway through the appallingly late year of 2008--that four-figure grad school salary wasn't doing me many favors--so, from my perspective, this fourth installment of Capcom's stylish action brawler might as well be brand new. I understand that's probably not the case for many of you, and, to be fair, Devil May Cry 4 hasn't aged quite enough to have reached "classic" status. At the same time, though, we're not seeing a whole lot of developers outside of Capcom and Platinum (a studio started by Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya) make this type of game, so I'm willing to forgive any cynicism baked into the upcoming Special Edition's release--Scalebound and the next iteration of DmC aren't likely to see the light of day anytime soon. (I'll unfortunately have to assume Bayonetta 3 is a no-go.)
If you played the original Devil May Cry 4 seven years ago, the changes seen in this Special Edition might not seem all that world-shattering. For the most part, it carries over features seen in the PC port that took advantage of beefier hardware: Legendary Dark Knight Mode, which adds significantly more enemies to the main campaign--in a manner similar to Dark Souls II's Scholar of the First Sin edition--and Turbo Mode, which ups the game's already snappy pace. And, of course, Devil May Cry 4 looks somewhat better this time around, though you should know what to expect from a slightly revamped version of 2008 visuals. Obviously, this isn't going to be on par with something like Bloodborne, but even with dated graphics, the general stylish, over-the-top weirdness of Devil May Cry usually makes up for any technical deficiencies.
While the essential Devil May Cry 4 experience hasn't changed much outside of its two optional modes, the Special Edition brings some new playable characters from Dante's past into the mix. Trish and Lady now join the former bro-down hoedown cast that once consisted of only Dante and Nero--and, just as Dante took over for Nero roughly halfway through the original DMC4, these two will also take a tag-team approach to the core campaign. Vergil makes for the final entry to the Special Edition's roster, bringing his moveset from Devil May Cry 3, along with a few tweaks inspired by his DmC showing. And, from all appearances, this content isn't been treated as an afterthought; Capcom's Hideaki Itsuno, who directed Devil May Cry 2, 3, and 4 (as well as Dragon's Dogma), served a hands-on role in developing these additions--which feels like a necessity for a series that relies so heavily on its ultra-technical combat.
A recent, hands-on session with Devil May Cry 4's Special Edition mainly had me dipping into closed arenas to test out the number of ways to approach combat. Lady's moveset focuses on firearms--she uses a rocket launcher to double-jump, after all--and her lack of powerful close range attacks made me reevaluate DMC's typically in-your-face style of fighting. Since some of Lady's most powerful moves involve charging her weapons, you'll need to find safe windows of time to commit to the somewhat lengthy windup.
Trish, on the other hand, feels a bit more beginner-friendly. She's equipped with a single weapon, which removes a chunk of complexity from combat, but thankfully, said weapon can really be a nightmare for enemies. An easy-to-execute attack sends her sword out as a spinning blade of death that hovers nearby and keeps up the combo counter as Trish pulls off her own moves independently--which can be incredibly satisfying to watch. Vergil, the final new addition to DMC4, centers his fighting style around maintaining a ever-charging meter that dips whenever he takes damage or suffers an attack--a sort of "the rich get richer" gameplay reward intended for Devil May Cry combo masters.
Though I enjoyed the hell of 2012's Devil May Cry HD Collection--an outstanding little bundle of games--it goes without saying that Platinum's really evolved the genre since the 2008 release of Devil May Cry 4. And, seeing as their interpretation of "stylish action" is the one I'm most familiar with at this point, going back to this older style takes some getting used to, especially if you've sunk time into the ultra-intuitive Bayonetta 2. There's just something about a powerful counter/dodge mechanic (like Bayonetta's Witch Time and Metal Gear Rising's Blade Mode) that makes this style of combat a lot more satisfying, thanks to how these techniques give you a handful of slow-mo seconds to simply revel in your protagonist's badassery. Simply put, there's a reason Platinum features a concept like this in all of their games--one that isn't at all related to a lack of creativity.
We don't talk much about the cost of games here on USgamer, but, as a budget release, Devil May Cry IV's Special Edition could be worthwhile--doubly so when you consider the original 2008 version can be had for less than 10 dollars. And when Devil May Cry's HD Collection released three years ago, part 3 wasn't as old as part 4 is now, and two other games came along for the ride in a package that cost less than a new release. With this precedent set, I hope Capcom doesn't overestimate how much people are willing to pay for a game that's well-remembered, but not quite a classic. The last thing I'd like to see is consumers growing justifiably cranky over a style of game that feels on the verge of extinction these days.