Comic book artist Kevin Walker has gone through a number of different styles over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is his ability to deliver some iconic Judge Dredd pieces.
This particularly moody, styled cover featured on prog 1453, announcing the start of the equally dark Mandroid thriller story arc.
British comic book artist Frazer Irving has turned out to be somewhat of a premiere horror artist, churning out some fiendishly good work for 2000 AD in the past, before going on to make some big waves in the American comic book scene.
Apart from his acclaimed black and white art on Necronauts and his more groovy pencils on the psychedelic Storming Heaven, Frazer Irving also provided the haunting visuals for John Wagner’s Judge Death: My Name is Death and Judge Death: The Wilderness Days story lines.
And of course, when the time came around to collect My Name is Death as a trade paperback, what better to wrap it in than this fantastically dark image courtesy of Mr. Irving!
Hands up if you were a fan of the trigger-happy button masher on steroids that was Devil May Cry 3, featuring everyone’s favourite son of Sparda come Demon Hunter, Dante? Yes? Well I absolutely loved it and I’m happy to say that Devil May Cry 4 kicks off exactly from the level set by Devil May Cry 3 and then raises the bar just that little – Oh and it even looks a whole lot prettier this time around!
For this outing the story follows a man other than Dante, a young trouble-maker with a itching for a fight and a demonic hand to match, who just happens to be in the employ of the Order of the Sword that currently worships Sparda as the saviour of its people. Nero is however drawn into an unlikely conflict as demons are unleashed upon the world once again and at the same time, a mysterious man in red appears to murder the Order’s leader and spiritual guide Sanctus. With only the safety of his beloved Kyrie in his mind, Nero accepts the challenge and enters the fray – though the extent of the deception and danger that still awaits him has yet to fully reveal itself!
Released in 2008 from makers Capcom, Devil May Cry 4 slips snuggly in the same fast-paced 3rd person, hack and slash gameplay of its predecessors, though it brings a new element into play thanks to Nero’s Devil Bringer demonic grappling arm. Again we have the fixed camera locations, the industrial metal soundtrack, the over the top sound effects, screams and one-liners, a variety of some fairly strangely designed demons together with a LOT of very cool, well executed CG cutscenes to take in.
In terms of gameplay, you get to experience the game controlling both Nero and Dante through the course of the game, though it is without a doubt that this new upstart Nero is the main protagonist from stage 1. Armed with both a ranged gun attack as well as a sword attack, Nero gets the added grappling abilities gifted through his Devil Bringer arm, a new gameplay mechanic and one that actually elevates the Devil May Cry experience and actually makes Nero more fun to play with than Dante himself! In terms of Dante, you have access to the same abilities and styles as from Devil May Cry 3, meaning you still have your various guns and swords available to you to switch through as you like (though now you can switch between all at a simple button press during a stage whenever you want), plus the added four styles of Trickster, Gunslinger, Swordmaster and Royal Guard to play with.
Both Nero and Dante have access to a Devil Trigger ability that when activated grants them a cool new look, increased power and abilities and also a slow health regeneration boost. As for the actually running around and playing, the pace is still frenetic as you jump, hack and slash away at enemies to eventually reveal over the top, larger than life boss characters and of course obtain those all important red orbs that can be used to upgrade your weapons and abilities at designated divinity statues and stage begin menus. As before, the style system is in place to judge your overall score on a particular stage as well as the amount of orbs dropped from defeated enemies, meaning that it is in your best interest to constantly switch between attacks and avoid get hits – all in order to reach that sought after Smokin’ Sick Style (SSS) ranking!
Visually Devil May Cry 4 is as polished a game as what you could hope for. Character models are well detailed, special effect are beautiful to behold and the character animations and movement is smooth and shows off all the right visuals. Of course, no Devil May Cry game would be complete without beautifully rendered and often over the top CG cutscenes and I’m pleased to report that DMC4 has these dripping in abundance, complete with those crazy Dante performance that you got used to witnessing the last time round in this particular franchise.
In terms of difficulty, DMC4 is not overly aggressive and will actually dumb down boss characters should you find yourself on a game over screen just one too many times. Also, because the red orb and experience point accumulation is exactly that, accumulated, it means that you’ll keep levelling up even if you keep losing, meaning that eventually you should be able to make your way through to the end. Most of the boss fights are pretty simple to work out and give a decent challenge, but be warned that the final battle has a trick to it that you’ll need to think around in order to beat it (Devil Bringer – it’s all I’m going to say!)
Aurally Devil May Cry 4 delivers the good exactly as what you would expect from a AAA title, featuring a beautiful and haunting soundtrack mixed in with some frenetic and hardcore riffs during the fight scenes. Voice acting is top notch and for the most part there is very little to complain about.
In summary, Capcom’s MT Framework game engine is once again responsible for bringing to life a superb entry in the fast-paced, button bashing and trigger happy hack and slash genre that is difficult to put down and even harder not to enjoy. It is satisfying building up style points, getting good ratings for levels and eventually beating the game. It looks good, sounds good and plays smoothly, making it a firm favourite of mine – in other words, pick it up if you are a fan of this genre… you won’t go wrong! :)
(Just a tip though. In order to unlock the secret game ending cutscene, you need to protect Kyrie and basically ensure she doesn’t take a hit. Not go after the bad guys like I did. Doh!)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_May_Cry_4
At last! News just in is that Rebellion and 2000AD have finally announced that a new Judge Dredd movie will at last be in the making. DNA Films, the guys behind Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later have been pressed in as the production company behind this new project and the movie is slated to go into production 2009.
According to Jason Kingsley, CEO and Creative Director for Rebellion, they don’t exactly want to give away too many details at this point, meaning that just who is going to be filling the director’s chair and more importantly, who is going to play the part of the toughest lawman of the future, is pretty much anyone’s guess at this point in time.
All I can say is that I hope that this time around they’ve learnt their lesson and won’t try and forcefully adapt this true British original for the American market – as what they did with the horrible 1995 flop starring Sylvestor Stallone and Rob Schneider of all people!
Me, I would love to see someone like Jason Statham fill Dredd’s oversized boots, but I have to admit, Ron Perlman already has the perfect chin profile for the job! :)