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Devil May Cry 4 refrain

For: iPhone

Dante's inferno

Product: Devil May Cry 4 refrain | Developer: Capcom Mobile | Publisher: Capcom Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.00.00
Devil May Cry 4 refrain iPhone, thumbnail 1
If action games are a dance, then Devil May Cry 4 refrain is the basic two-step.

This plain action game offers button-mashing antics that feel like the first steps to a more sophisticated routine that never plays out. It's a decent beginning, but not enough to make your two thumbs tango.

Issues with the controls, which reinforce the limited nature of the action, combined with a general lack of polish yield a game that is only mildly enjoyable.

Half and half

When you consider that Devil May Cry 4 refrain summarises a much larger, more robust console game, its brevity and basic nature make sense. Along with a condensed script, features have been cut and mechanics tweaked for a more accessible, more basic mobile action game.

As the half-demon, half-human Nero you're drawn into a war to prevent demons from destroying humanity. In other words, you're tasked with kicking demon butt. Through the ten-mission story, you jam on three action buttons to slice, shoot, and slam demons out of existence. Plot plays a bit part, ceding the spotlight to action - insane aerial moves, bullet showers, and fanciful grabs with a magical gauntlet.

A nicely tuned virtual analogue stick handles movement, while a set of buttons in the lower-right correspond to Nero's handguns, sword, and Devil Bringer gauntlet (a simplified control scheme condenses handguns and sword into a single button). There's also a 'jump' button, although it's rarely needed.

Mealy combo

The setup is solid, though the gameplay never moves beyond the basics. Each short mission consists of samey button-mashing action punctuated by bland boss battles and the occasional obvious puzzle. It doesn't help that the controls are inadequate to the task of delivering dynamic action.

Executing combos - a key part of the Devil May Cry experience - is awkward. The lack of a targeting system causes problems, particularly when the game confuses an order to move toward an enemy and attack as a combo. Too often you do a rising slash instead of approaching an enemy for an attack.

Most surprising is that the abilities to evade and block - two fundamental abilities in any fast-moving action game - are missing. Instead, it's all about attack, attack, attack.

Overture, not reprise

Without a manageable combo system and basic defensive maneouvres, Devil May Cry 4 refrain has difficulty moving beyond the basics. Halfway through the game, it feels as though you're still playing through a tutorial.

A general lack of polish furthers the disappointment. The graphics are merely passable - unsatisfying in their muddiness when played on a high-definition iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch. Static dialogue scenes can't always be forwarded. There's nothing to purchase with the souls you collect from defeated enemies.

While it's understandable that not everything from a console game can be packed into a portable release, Devil May Cry 4 refrain strips things down too much. The essentials - exciting action, interesting boss battles, slick visuals - just aren't here.
Devil May Cry 4 refrain
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 3 February 2011
Devil May Cry 4 refrain is too basic to be anything more than mildly enjoyable, its lack of depth, excitement, and polish preventing the delivery of a more satisfying experience
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