High Heels and Halos – Bayonetta Review [PS3]

April 27, 2010 at 13:57 | Posted in games, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Byonetta Logo

Did you ever wonder what would happen if you gave a witch the skill of ten martial artist masters, four guns and a catsuit and then set the forces of heaven upon her in a gory battle? Bayonetta gives you the opportunity to explore this scenario from the perspective of the witch.

Bayonetta is the latest of games from Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry) and Platinum Games (Mad World) published by Sega (Sonic). Landing on the Xbox360 and PS3, Bayonetta follows it’s creators’ roots as a full blown spectacle fighter. That is, a game we’re you beat people (or monsters) in spectacular and (sometimes literal) eye gushing displays of violence and/or finesse and bravado. Half the reward of fighting is how it looks and feels and realism takes a back seat while you enjoy the show.

Sex Appeal

Let’s get one thing straight though: Bayonetta is the probably the most sexist, revealing and obviously flaunting AAA game to come out this year (or indeed that last decade or so). The main character wears revealing outfits and uses such suggestive gestures and mannerisms that they would make most chain mail bikini models blush and seem considerably plain.

It’s virtue is twofold: it goes beyond the titillating and pretentious reverie and into the absurd and almost humorous territory. The main protagonist is a sex devil, and the game doesn’t try to hide it. So if you’re offended by partial nudity and various warm bean brews I’ll save you some time and tell you that this isn’t a game for you. If you however find the concept of using pole dancing as a sort of deadly attack amusing, read on.

It’s second virtue is that the game doesn’t rely on this. It’s merely a choice of style.

I’m here to kick ass and lick lollipops. And I can do both at once.

Bayonetta is the main protagonist the game derives it’s name from. Like so many other video game characters she finds herself lacking her memory except for but a few key pieces: she knows how to fight, she knows she’s a witch and she knows a good deal of magic to boot. She rather soon finds herself being forced to fight the armies of the heavens as angels repeatedly tries to slay her and drag her into hell.

Oh, and she knows how to make magical lollipops that can heal or otherwise boost her powers. Go figure.

The story in it’s whole is rather confusing, filled with some plot holes and probably won’t make sense until you’ve beaten the game. Even then a second play through may be a good idea to get the whole picture. Many will probably like the overarching story, but what Bayonetta does well not only with the story but as well as most battles are the set pieces.

Bayonetta feels very much like a Japanese anime much of the time. From the quirky characters and humorous cutscenes to the over the top action in impossible scenarios. If you’ve ever seen an anime where the characters are fighting on a falling plane or exploding volcano it then comes close to some of the experiences in Bayonetta. In the opening sequence alone you’re fighting on a falling clock tower against a horde of angels. What is really astounding is that it manages to pull this off quite well and then continue to exceed itself in grandeur and scale as the game goes on.

Hit Me Baby One More Time

While Devil May Cry franchise was indeed (in?)famous for being exceptionally hard and punishing on the player, Bayonetta seems to take a bit more lenient approach. The game is good at giving you feedback for when you’re doing something right. Using the right type of combo will create bigger effects such as summoning a giant stiletto heel to crush your enemies. Dodging at the exact right moment will activate “witch time” where all your enemies will move in slow motion and let you dish out some due punishment.

To further accommodate learning the developers made the loading screen part of the experience as it works as your private training room. You have full control over the character and can train on any moves you have access to. Here you can find a list of combos as well as clearly see how you’re executing them. It’s a neat trick to make the loading times seems shorter and give you a good reason to hold on to your controller.

While the battles are indeed rather difficult for most players even on the “Normal” setting and you will most invariably die many times during the learning curve, the game is rather forgiving when it comes to save points.

Practically between every single battle you can expect to have your progress saved and in some cases such as the larger boss battles you may even find checkpoints being reached halfway through. While you’re allowed to jump back in to your last checkpoint at any time if you die this will in the end affect the final score of the level. If you wish to unlock all items and climb the points ladder you’d better learn to stay alive.

Console comparisons

Showing off your high scores might end up being a local matter though as the online leader board rarely seemed to work on the PS3’s I’ve come across.

While on the matter of hardware platforms, there has been rumours that the Xbox 360 version has more vibrant colours as well as faster loading times. This seems to be true even if you install the game on your PS3, and seeing how the game was developed on the 360 and then later ported over to Sony’s console this seems rather plausible. As I have been unable to compare it with it’s Xbox counterpart I cannot give a definitive answer on this, but if you find yourself in possession of both systems I would recommend going for the 360 version.

The Verdict

Bayonetta is probably among the best of it’s breed and it could very well take the throne depending on personal taste. The flowing combat with dramatic and over the top action nails the feeling of larger than life with a musical score that suits the setting perfectly. If you’re interested at all in fighting games I’d heartily recommend picking this up as it’s a vast improvement to many other titles in it’s genre.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn, hard to master
  • Forgiving save points
  • Plenty of unlocks for longevity
  • Spectacular set piece battles
  • Great musical score
  • Amusing and intriguing story

Cons:

  • Intriguing but in the end annoying platform parts
  • Camera not always focusing on the action
  • Leader board not functioning properly
  • Confusing story
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