tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

An Interview with the Devil

In this case, the PC version of Devil May Cry 4. Capcom has bestowed upon us a demo and a benchmark test, so I took it upon myself to download them and give them a shot.

This isn’t Devil May Cry‘s first outing on the PC, although arguably the PC version of Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is best left forgotten. So how does this new instalment fare on the PC? Actually, it’s looking a lot better than I had hoped.

My first excursion into the game was the benchmark tool, which does a real-time render test of one of the game’s areas. The first thing I noticed was that like Lost Planet, the range of resolutions the game supports is thankfully wide, with a healthy variety of 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratio resolutions available. MSAA is also supported, which is nice if you want to boost your framerate by running in a lower resolution yet dislike the jagged edges this causes.

I opted for 1280×800 with 2x MSAA, and managed to get a fairly smooth framerate in the demo level (for some context, I have a Core 2 Duo E6750 clocked at 2.66Ghz, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB nVidia GeForce 7900GS). The framerate never quite hit 60 fps, but it never really got choppy either, and was more than adequate, hovering in the 40-50 fps range. One oddity is that after you exit the in-game options screen, the game enters a prolonged loading phase for about 30 seconds. I have absolutely no clue what it’s loading – it does this even when you don’t change anything in the options. The strange part is that the actual level loading is really snappy (as one would expect, given that it’s not reading off a slow optical drive).

The demo itself features a time-limited run-through of one of the early levels, as well as a boss fight against Berial, the flame demon featured in the Xbox Live/PSN demo that was released earlier this year. I haven’t tried the boss fight yet, but I gave the other mode a shot.

Control-wise, the game wisely lets you use a gamepad. However, when it comes to configuring these controls, it opts to fall in line with other Japanese PC ports like Guilty Gear XX #Reload by having you map your gamepad controls to an intermediate mapping, which you can then customize from within the game. In GGXX‘ case it had you map your controls to PS2 buttons; in DMC4‘s case it’s the Xbox 360 controller. The additional layer of indirection is irritating and unnecessary, but I suppose that’s what you get when a company that normally deals in console games starts doing PC releases.

That said, there isn’t really anything wrong with the gamepad controls. I plugged in my PS2 pad using a USB adapter, and it controls just fine. There are keyboard controls too, but I was able to tolerate them for all of 5 seconds before giving up and going back to my pad. The mapping is something like WSAD for movement, I to attack, K to jump/dodge, J to shoot, L for Devil Bringer, Space for targeting mode, N for Devil Trigger, M for taunt, and the arrow keys to control the camera. You can give it a try if you have some irrational phobia for gamepads, or are a raging masochist, but count me out.

As for the game itself? It’s Devil May Cry. You should know what to expect. I don’t think commenting on the game mechanics from a demo is going to help anyone, although I will say that the Devil Bringer technique is pretty cool and satisfying to pull off. There’s nothing quite like grabbing your foe out of the air, slamming him on the ground and watching him explode into a shower of red orbs. At the same time timing seems to play a significant role in how effective your Devil Bringer attacks will be, which has me salivating at the juggle possibilities.

Configuration quirks notwithstanding, the PC port of Devil May Cry 4 looks to outdo the port of its predecessor by a significant margin. It’s probably not going to be the version of choice for most people, but for those who game primarily on their PCs and haven’t invested in either an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 yet, it should be worth picking up.

On a side note, I hear that Capcom may be planning to release Resident Evil 5 on the PC as well. It goes without saying that this interests me a good deal (particularly if they actually add mouse aiming unlike the lousy PC port of Resident Evil 4). With that new Bionic Commando, Street Fighter 4 and now possibly Resident Evil 5 all heading to my platform of choice, it looks like Capcom is really trying to get my attention…

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