Published by SEGA
Developed by Platinumgames
Rated M for Mature
From the creator of the original Devil May Cry, we get Bayonetta, a game that shows roots from the DMC series with enough of its own personality to be more than a simple clone. Does Bayonetta set a new bar or is it simply another clone thrown into the action genre pool?
The game is purely anime inspired so if you’re not a fan of anime and the outrageous antics seen in anime, a lot of the game’s humor and direction are going to be lost on you. The game starts out with a prologue having you play as Bayonetta. You fight alongside another woman against ‘angelic’ creatures back to back on a falling clock tower. As you’re fighting in this epic scene a narrator is giving a brief history of the Umbra Witches and Lumen Sages. This sets the tone and basic plot for the rest of the game as the two factions fell out of balance and how the infamous witch hunts began. Throughout the game the story tries to keep you guessing, but it’s fairly predictable even though it’s a bit convoluted. Bottomline: it’s typical anime storytelling. There’s a lot of action, silliness and ‘epic revelations’ the further you go. Personally I didn’t have anything against the story, I even found it mildly entertaining, but it’s not a crucial part of the game’s experience like Uncharted 2′s cinematic story. Bayonetta herself is pretty much a female version of Dante as far as character personalities go, just with more sensuality infused in her character. Seriously, they portray Bayonetta a bit to the obnoxious extremes for fan service; it may put off some who aren’t fans of anime.
REVIEWER’S NOTE: To those that are more theocratically inclined, Bayonetta only borrows a few concepts from Christendom; namely the Heaven, Hell, Angels, Demons, The Devil but it is not directly connected to biblical interpretations and is in fact a completely different mythology in itself.
What will keep you glued however is the gameplay. Similar to DMC battles section off areas and most of the time you will have to defeat all the enemies to advance- and you’ll be graded on each section. The rating is based on how quickly you advanced and how much damage you took. The action itself as I mentioned before is fast and furious, you won’t have much time to sit and strategize in the heat of battle. You’re constantly being attacked and you’ll need timing and quick reflexes to initiate Witch Time. Witch Time, when activated, slows down time your enemies while you’re moving at normal speed. Suffice to say you’ll want to activate it often as it can give you a breather plus it opens up your enemies for massive damage from combos. How do you activate Witch Time you ask? Simply by dodging an incoming attack last minute will activate it and allow you to unleash devastating combos on your unsuspecting victim. After 20 minutes or so, you should have the gameplay down.
Bayonetta starts out with four guns; two in her hands and two strapped to her feet. But as the game progresses you do unlock other weapons and you’ll even be able to swap between 2 weapon sets you created on the fly to really chain together something fierce! It doesn’t stop there either, as Bayonetta can also pull off brutal QTE attacks once she has enough magic stored up from combat! The animations for these are pretty humorous and there are enough of them to keep it from feeling too stale in the long haul. On the normal difficulty the game really made me fight tooth and claw for every step of progress. Thankfully the game saves after each fight (called verse), so you won’t have to worry about starting from the beginning if you die…and you WILL die a lot. You can buy and find upgrades to booster Bayonetta and some of the items really do come in handy, but in all honesty you won’t particularly “need” them to complete the game. It helps that you don’t need them because the items are expensive and will take multiple playthroughs to really bring Bayonetta up to snuff. Once you complete the game’s normal mode, you’ll unlock the hard mode. One thing that does throw off the gameplay however is the slowdowns that occur during some of the heavier action sequences. It isn’t gamebreaking per se, but there will be times when the game will hit slowdowns.
Bayonetta never slows down to a chug and most probably won’t notice it that much, but it is worth mentioning just the same as those with a keen eye will easily spot it. Otherwise graphically the game gets better as it goes on with the environments and enemies, though the art direction as a whole may be one of the ‘love it or hate it’ types. The cutscenes are not consistent in quality as some scenes look good while others look plain. SFX and voice acting are decent but the bgm is another case of love it or hate it. They went with a more jazzy dance beat instead of rock, I’m guessing because it would more compliment Bayonetta herself, but the action screams for something a bit heavier in my opinion. You’ll either like it or tune it out, it’s not great but it’s not bad either.
LOADING!!! Oh.My.Word! For some reason when SEGA was doing the PS3 version, they ignored the fact that the PS3 has a HDD and can do mandatory installs and as a result, loading times are in the tubes! To access the pause menu? Loading. Starting back from a checkpoint because you died? Uber loading. The longest loads are when the game is loading stages. You’ll think you’re back in the old PS/Saturn days again.
REVIEWER’S NOTE: SEGA has released a patch and it is now live and it cuts down the loading by spades!!
Bayonetta is easily one of the better action games I’ve played in awhile! It’s just sad that the PS3 suffers from excruciating loading times and isn’t as technically sound as the 360 version. That said it’s still a game that action fans should give a try. With the amount of items to unlock and fun battles, Bayonetta will chew you up and spit you out and have you coming back for more. This my friends, is a diamond in the rough, but it’s still a diamond.
Worth it? At the very least action fans should give it a rent.