Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 01/05/10 | Genre: Action
Bayonetta has been attracting the media's attention for months now, but is there any substance behind the sexuality? Find out in our review of the first big release of 2010! I would like to point out that this review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game; not the PS3. I've added some notes on the PlayStation 3 port at the end so be sure to read those if you're looking at the game on Sony's system.
We'll start with the obvious; Bayonetta is hot. Make no mistake about it, the developers knew what they were building and they ran with it. Bayonetta's feminine charms are highlighted throughout the adventure making this one not at all appropriate for young children. The game's rating should tell you that, but I just wanted to be sure to point that out. That said, it is this very blatant attitude that makes the game so much fun. If you know what you're getting into, it's hard to be disappointed with this game; especially if you're a straight male gamer.
The gameplay is very similar to the Devil May Cry series. The focus is on action and killing enemies with as much style and flair as possible. You'll be rewarded for dishing out long combos and pulling off some of the more flashy techniques. While the game may at first appear to be heavily attack focused, defense actually plays one of the bigger roles. By pulling the right trigger you can dodge enemy attacks. If done with the right timing, this will send Bayonetta into "Witch Time." In Witch Time enemies move in slow motion giving you ample opportunity to pummel them into oblivion. Then there are what the game calls wicked weave attacks which leave Bayonetta wearing next to nothing as her hair powers a big attack.
You also have a magic gauge that allows you to perform special torture attacks. These attacks are devastating and offer you the chance to earn bonus Halos, the game world's currency. These attacks range from iron maidens to spiked S&M wooden horses. If you're not familiar with the concept of the wooden horse, I invite you to google it for yourself - though you should consider yourself warned. When it comes to boss fights you will also be able to execute the now famous Climax attacks. These are the attacks you've no doubt seen screenshots of where Bayonetta's hair strips her down while she strikes a pose and summons a giant demon to punish the enemy.
The game's combat takes place at high speeds making it an exciting and visceral experience. The unique mix of weapons includes guns, swords, whips and even enchanted ice skates. There are plenty of collectibles for you as well. For instance there are notes all over the world that describe some of the lore of the game and also ingredients you can find and combine to create helpful items (not unlike Resident Evil's herbs). Many of the games more interesting weapons won't be available until you've found the pieces to some golden records in the game. Once you've completed a record you can exchange it for the weapon when you enter the Gates of Hell.
Relax, the Gates of Hell is just a bar run by one of the game's supporting characters, Rodin. He will sell you various items and also techniques and new costumes. The Gates of Hell can be entered between stages and also through various portals within the levels themselves.
The stages, like Bayonetta herself, look visually stunning; the textures and effects are fantastic. I did notice a bit of screen tearing throughout the game, but nothing major and only in a few locations. I think the characters speak for themselves; it is obvious that a lot of work went into creating the models and animations; particularly on Bayonetta. The same can't be said for the audio; the soundtrack to the game is pretty bad and most of the voice acting is what you'd expect from a video game: not great. There are a couple of exceptions, notably Bayonetta and another character, Luka.
Bayonetta is a fun, crazy and over the top game. There are a lot of references to other popular video games that many players will recognize and appreciate. The game is completely over the top in almost every respect; the ridiculous hotness of the main character, the action, the dialogue and many other elements as well. While I did enjoy the game it is worth noting that it might be too over the top for some people. In one instance, a female boss character appears and sits on the floor, spreads her legs, rubs her crotch with her hand before sliding it up to her nipple. All this while a radiant light beams from her vagina and she moans softly. That is her grand entrance. See? I told you it was over the top. The game's blunt sex appeal is probably a bonus for most guys (including this one), but it may be off-putting for women.
Speaking of being over the top; I believe the developers went too far with the game's difficulty. I might just not be very good at the game, but I found it incredibly challenging. At times it felt like the game was just a long string of boss fights with no time to recover in between. Am I just a crappy player? Hey, perhaps I am, but on the normal difficulty level you don't expect to get punished that bad. I will say that as I improved with dodging the game got a bit easier, but the problem is much of the important game mechanics are left up to you to discover. For instance it is fairly obvious that one is meant to replay previous chapters in order to power up for later stages in the game. However, the game never even lets you know this is possible. I simply didn't know this was an option until about 5 hours in. Also there are no good tutorials on equipping weapons or mastering techniques and the menus aren't the most intuitive I've see.
Issues aside, Bayonetta is a great game. You get a lot for your money too; the main game will take you around fifteen to twenty hours to complete. Then you unlock more difficulty levels and items to collect giving you good reason to come back and play multiple times. For Xbox 360 owners, this one is a solid buy.
Unfortunately the PS3 version is not up to par with the Xbox 360 game. PlayStation owners will be disappointed to here that the game suffers from several technical issues on Sony's platform. The game has more slow down and the textures just do not look as good as the 360 counterpart. The worst offense though is the excessive loading. The game loads for just about any reason you can think of whether its just picking up an item, pausing the game or even navigating the menu screens. The core gameplay remains the same, but it is not the same experience. For those reasons, drop the review rating to RENT on PS3. You may find that you enjoy it, but I'm guessing a lot of people will find it isn't worth the full price.