>DMC4 demo

>Demos are a tricky business. They’re arguably the most effective way of selling a game to a prospective buyer, but you have to very careful about what you actually show off. The Crackdown demo was utterly fantastic, as you were able to quickly level up and see what your character could eventually do; the Burnout Paradise demo was terrible, because it was incredibly restrictive and failed to show off the game’s strengths. (See this fantastic article about that very topic.)

That said, I went into the Devil May Cry 4 demo with an open mind. Let me just say, right off the bat – I’ve never played any of the games in the Devil May Cry franchise. I’ve been repeatedly told in the gaming press that I should be super-excited about DMC4, though; it’s using the Unreal 3 engine, it’s finally on the Xbox360, etc. I downloaded yesterday’s demo like everybody else, because, well, why not? I was home sick and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Now that I’ve played both of the demo’s segments, I am totally underwhelmed. But this is a much more damaging situation than the Burnout Paradise demo. The BP demo was showing off a tiny, tiny piece of a much larger puzzle, and taken out of context it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The DMC4 demo, however, looked to be what the game will ultimately be like, and frankly it looked stupid.

Well, maybe that’s not the right word. The game looks tremendous, after all – the environments are absolutely beautiful and the character designs look incredible. It’s just that the game itself is stupid.

To wit:

  • the main player character is a whiny, petulant douchebag
  • the game’s geography makes absolutely no sense; you are in a sunny seaside town, you open a door and suddenly you’re on a snowy, frozen mountainside; then you open another door and you’re in a burning village, in the countryside (which looks right out of an early level in Ninja Gaiden, actually)
  • for all its technological prowess, it still adheres to well-worn cliches every chance it gets, none more annoying and nonsensical than the arbitrary sealing-off of rooms while you fight bad guys
  • the boss you fight in the burning village is a fucking Balrog, for all intents and purposes
  • right before you get to the boss fight, your character actually whines: “Oh great. More demons.” If your douchebag protagonist is whining about the stuff he has to do – i.e., combat, the stuff that supposedly makes your game awesome – then maybe your game sucks.

It’s staying on my Gamefly queue, because, well, why not. But goddamn, this demo did absolutely nothing to whet my appetite.