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Bayonetta: Initial Impressions

When I first heard about this game, my thought was “Oh. It’s devil may cry with a woman. That’s not very original.”  Then I saw the character designs and I laughed at the crazy hair, catsuit, and gun high heels.  Quickly though I would get more and more details about the game that would heighten my excitement.

-“What’s that? She summons objects/demons with her hair that is also her outfit so when she summons she shows some skin?” Cheeky, cute, and intriguing.

-“You say she can apply torture finishing moves on enemies that very in numerous ways depending on the enemy?” Awesome.

-“She can turn into animals and fight?” Seriously?!

-“She can take the enemies and bosses weapons and use them as well as collect a number of different weapons that alter gameplay?” Wow.

-“Perfect score from Famitsu?” Wait wait. That can’t be right.  I’m sure the game’s good, but a perfect score?!

At this point I felt the game would be fantastic, but a perfect score seemed a bit of a stretch.   After extensive playing, however, I have to say that I’m incredibly impressed by all that they’ve accomplished.  While on the surface it seems like Devil May Cry with a sexy witch instead of a sexy man-demon, it daresay fixes a lot of the flaws in the Devil May Cry series.   The difficulty can ramp up slowly instead of beating your face in from the get go.  There’s rarely a moment that isn’t in your face with action, where in DMC I found a lot of time was backtracking and exploring.

As for the game itself, you just have to be prepared going into this to not expect an incredibly serious and dramatic story.  The entire game is as over the top as possible and it doesn’t try and disguise that.  Every single action for every attack feels like Bayonetta is posing for the camera and you can tell the modelers/animators put a lot of effort into that.  Now stuff like this has been done before, but it ends up feeling trashy I find because normally the characters aren’t intending to pose like that.  Bayonetta’s character makes you believe that she’s just loving every minute of it and she poses because she has fun doing it.  She’s not just going to kick your ass, she’s gonna look damn fine doing it.  This over-the-top posing is everywhere to the point that she can’t even pull a lever without wrapping her leg around it and stretching.  She treats many of the battles like a dance, and even one of the battles she has a dance/pose off.  Style is the name of the game here and Bayonetta has it in spades.

As for the gameplay, the combat system is really impressive.  It plays different on each mode, but for the most part you have your light attack, heavy attack, and pure gunshot attacks.  The traditional combo system is really well improved in this and every combination of buttons produces its own unique combo.  Add onto this is the fact that she uses guns on her heels and in her hands by default so with each punch/kick she’s also firing magic bullets that ricochet all over.  The game also allows the use of torture attacks.  These are finishing moves that vary depending on opponent and can be pulled off even if a mob has full health, but you will sacrifice magic to do so.  These are short little scenes of fatalities that net you bonus halos (game currency) depending on how much you tap the right button to charge it up.  The boss fights always end in climaxes, which are elaborate and unique torture attacks that generally entail you summoning a demon.  In most games this would lead to an elaborate quicktime event where you have to tap the correct combinations at the right time, but Bayonetta generally just chooses one of two buttons and require you to tap it rapidly to charge a meter that nets you bonus points if you charge it up fast.

You can mix things up a lot in the combat of the game as well.  Bayonetta can pick up an enemy’s weapon which has a certain amount of use.  She can spread the use out by doing a standard attack with it that varies depending on the weapon, or by doing a heavy attack that usually acts as a screen cleaner aoe or a one shot kill on a smaller enemy.  Bayonetta can even pick up the boss weapons that deal out tons of damage and last for a bit longer.  Eventually Bayonetta can get new weapons through the store in the game that can mix things up such as a katana, claws, or shotguns.

In regards to unlocks, there’s a store in the game where you can purchase new weapons, new techniques, new enhancement items, new costumes, and inventory use items.  Many of these are pretty expensive and you’ll doubtfully be able to afford everything on one playthrough of the game.  A lot of the unlocks such as new weapons require you to collect hidden pieces of records that can be merged to create the new items in the store.  Costumes can be unlocked through certain feats or beating the game so many times.

The characters in the game aren’t the most deep and intellectual figures, but that’s not what you should be playing Bayonetta for.  None of them feel particularly frustrating or stupid, and they all seem to have just enough feeling behind them to make them feel like they belong in this setting.  Bayonetta herself is a fantastic character.  She’s clever, sexy, and charming without it ever wearing thin.  Her voice actress does a phenomenal job I think, but others seem to feel the exact opposite.  She’s voiced by Atsuko Tanaka who some will recognize as Chun-Li and Motoko Kusunagi from Ghost in the Shell.  I don’t believe the voice actress changed at any point so this may or may not be accurate, it’s hard to get an exact answer anywhere at the moment.

The game length is reported to be about 7-13 hours on average for the first playthrough, but there is an achievement for beating it in under 3.  There’s still a lot of replayability with all the unlocks and the simple fact that the game is just really fun.  I highly recommend checking the game out and seeing for yourself.

Categories: Gaming Tags: , ,
  1. jettwinlock
    January 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Good review I was wondering about this game myself no review told me how the gameplay really was just that it was good. I just wanted to know how it was different from Devil May Cry and any other button masher. Nice.

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