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developer: Platinum Games
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jan 05, 10
|» All About Bayonetta on ActionTrip|
Designing video games has become a great challenge, particularly for artists, writers and animators. It's not easy to top some of titles you have on the market today, let alone come up with something unique and at the same time appealing to a wider audience. Let's consider two specific games: God of War 2 and Devil May Cry 4. Many fundamental elements of Bayonetta, Platinum Games' action adventure, were taken from the two aforementioned titles. Although, gameplay wise, Bayonetta is a lot closer to DMC 4 than it is to God of War 2, which is no coincidence since it was directed by Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe creator Hideki Kamiya. Still, the developers simply took the DMC formula to new heights, injecting it with an extra dose of wackiness - this applies to almost every aspect of the game, from the art direction and the narrative to the combat mechanics.
The game throws players into a fictional city called Vigrid. Bayonetta, the central character, wakes after a 500 year sleep with no recollection of who she is (yeah, that happened to me once). While struggling to remember her identity and purpose, she discovers that she is roaming a world where two factions are at war - the Umbra Witches (followers of darkness) and the Lumen Sages (followers of light). A long time ago, The Lumen and the Umbra co-existed in peace and harmony, maintaining a perfect balance; until a terrible event triggered a great conflict between them. Bayonetta ended up being the last Umbran Witch who's goal is to seek out the "Eyes of the World" - powerful treasures that disappeared from Vigrid.
Baffling, ridiculous and completely off-the-wall is probably the best way to describe Bayonetta. This is a good thing, if you can believe it. The story and writing itself definitely needs more work though. Our tale progresses in such a way that it may not appeal to most gamers, particularly those who expect to learn something about this new world and the characters that inhabit it (hm, that should be everyone, only it isn't). Most of the cut-scenes were wasted on over-the-top bullet-time action, elaborate combat stunts and freaky acrobatics, rather than a better description of main character and a more detailed backstory concerning witches, demons, paradiso and whatnot. On the plus side, some of these cinematics are funny to watch, featuring some surprisingly amusing dialogue. In the end, I guess it's kind of a nice break from all the frantic action that takes place in between.
Boy, talk about high heels.
They say two heads are better than one.
During this game, you might want to consider taking a break, say, every 10 minutes or so. Enemy encounters come in different packages and every one leads to a boss-fight - sometimes you get larger bosses, sometimes smaller ones and then you have two huge bosses or several mid-size bosses. Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but that's how it is. The funniest thing is, they are all challenging. Every character or creature you encounter in this game has a specific set of abilities, weapons and powers it continually throws at you. Each time this requires a new approach to fighting. To top it off, every time you fight, it's going to be in a different setting and, in some cases, this is very important. For instance, during the highway level you have to engage five different enemies at once, plus one strong half-boss creature, while avoiding numerous oncoming cars.
The combat is fast. Probably faster than in most action games. The whole gameplay is like kicking DMC 4 into high gear. Your arms and fingers will ache after about 20 minutes of slashing, stomping, kicking, punching and clawing. All of this is possible thanks to a vast range of powers and a number of cool weapons at Bayonetta's disposal. One of the powers you'll probably find yourself using the most is Bayonetta's ability to slow down time. This is accomplished by well-timed evasive moves - when you see the enemy's about to strike, quickly jump to the side. When everything slows down, that's the perfect moment to begin grinding enemies with your most powerful combos.
There's an unbelievable amount of moves and combos to memorize and I think if you're that insane to manage six or more playthroughs, you'll still have a hard time remembering all the button combinations. Switching between weapons, however, is easily done and the game allows you to arrange your weapons and then use them in practice depending on the type of enemy (or enemies) you are about to face. Perhaps a subtle combination of both ranged weapons (dual pistols in most cases) and melee weapons (like the katana or whip) is the best way to get through some of the fights as quickly and painlessly as possible, while achieving a pretty decent score. Yes, the game keeps score on nearly everything you do, from combos you use to how you take out foes to the overall combat skill of the player. The greater variety in combat, the greater the reward. Rewards usually come in the form of currency, with which you can buy more weapons or combos or various items. Bayonetta can also craft items herself, provided she collected enough ingredients. If you've failed to gather enough money or items during the main game, you're given a second chance with a delightful little shooter mini-game that comes in intervals between each chapter. In all, these are fun, challenging and a nice breather from all the action.
8.5 Very Good
Clearly the work of DMC creator Hideki Kamiya, the wacky and messy action actually gets more fun with every hour you spend playing, a great amount of different enemies and tough bosses to go up against, it uses concepts from other games, but uses them well;
Not exactly a well-told story, gets too chaotic and confusing in certain segments, a few camera issues, could've done without the driving sequences.