Bayonetta (Review)

With no new Devil May Cry anytime soon, Kratos and God of War III probably thought they’d own 2010. Yet he’s having to face off a triple offensive of Darksiders, Bayonetta and Dante’s Inferno, one after another. Out of the three, original Devil May Cry director Hideki Kamiya has changed tactics the most by sending the sassy temptress Bayonetta in instead of yet another angry man. Hoping to charm her way in, before going berserk in a way we forgot Japanese games used to do.

Bayonetta on PS3 is a mixed experience. On the one hand you have some excellent Devil May Cry-style action with some of the most enjoyable combat you’ll ever play. While on the other, you have a half-assed port of the same game on the Xbox 360, with a ridiculous amount of extra loading screens, lower frame rate and dulled graphics.

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The long load times between areas aren’t too bad because you can practice a list of Bayonetta’s moves in the loading screen. It’s all the little ones for the smallest of things that really grate. Picking up an item or accessing your inventory triggers a loading message for a few seconds while the game slams to a halt. Sometimes, pressing Start will take over ten seconds to get to the pause menu. The long winded process of going to the game’s store involving multiple loading screens and cut-scenes is a complete waste of time too. There’s been talk of a patch, but nothing confirmed so far.

The graphics are lazily ported on Sony’s console too. With a lack of detail and the vibrancy from many of the colours sucked out and everything covered with a light grey misting. I’ve played both systems’ versions and it is noticeable.

On the plus side PS3 gamers, our 360 cousins have had to put up with the same dreadful story and cutscenes as us. It gives the Metal Gear Solid games a run for their money for number of infuriatingly frequent and pointless interruptions. Some of the dialogue is truly awful. There are some well-co-ordinated action scenes in some of them, but mostly you’re sat there bored waiting for a go yourself. At times you’ll start to think that more enemies are killed in the cutscenes than by you. Even worse are the many cut-scenes made up of bland film-cell images with voice-overs and almost no movement as it flashes between frames. It’s credit-crunch cutscenes at its very worst.

It does kinda kick ass though

The fighting in Bayonetta is excellent, with a huge variety of combos available from the start. There’s so many in fact, you might not even care to buy any more from the agonisingly long-loading store. The PS3 version’s slightly reduced frame-rate might cause you some problems in the higher difficulty settings with your button-timings though as the fights are ludicrously fast.

Weapons include guns, kicking, swords, whips and gauntlets, collected by picking up pieces of LP records and trading them in. You can swap between melee weapons mid-combo which can be devastatingly effective. Hold down an attack button at the end of a combo and Bayonetta will hold the final position while shooting her guns from her hands or feet. Brilliantly stylish and a cool way to finish a killer combo.

Instead of blocking, Bayonetta can nimbly dodge any attack with a push of R2. If you do this at the last moment before getting cut in half you activate Witch Time. This slows everything down for a few seconds letting you get in a handful of unanswered blows. It looks, feels and plays awesomely and is easily the most important feature of the combat.

That’s saying something seeing as you can also shove your enemies into a cruel variety of torture instruments or activate a Wicked Weave move which is where a portal will open and your hair transforms into a giant fist or foot to smash and stomp enemies. This gets even more nuts with Climax attacks for boss fights where you summon various demons (still made of your hair) like giant dogs or birds to tear them up like chew-toys with you bashing buttons to inflict extra damage.

Bosses are suitably huge and time-consuming. They’re generally floating deity’s or giant stone statues, often with a baby-faced dumbness about them. And a giant axe. You chip away at their health with the guns before getting in close with your melee weapons to do some proper damage. There’s plenty of double-button Quick-Time-Events to make sure you’re paying attention too. Many of these epic opponents are recycled throughout the game with alarming frequency though which feels a little cheap.

With the exception of a few sections where you slow down time to move through fast closing gates there aren’t any puzzles in the game and platforming is kept to a minimum. This is fine because the fighting’s that good, just a shame about the all the interrupting cut-scenes.

Take it (very) easy

The two easy modes with the ‘auto’ functions are no challenge and are rapidly gaining reputations as ‘one-handed’ modes as it locks-on automatically and players can just bash the attack buttons with a wide variety of combos spewing forth with no need for precise timing. Normal on the other hand is much tougher, with some foes able to take 90% of your health in one combo. However, if you are finding it too tough you can change to Easy Automatic at the start of a chapter, and if you go into your accessories menu and unequip the Immortal Marionette you’ll find you have much more control over your attacks, similar to Normal mode.

Overall

360 gamers can add an extra point to the score because of the lack of technical issues which adds a noticeable limp to the PS3 version. That and an awful story aside, this is still a wild ride of a game that you should experience. The fighting is much more enjoyable and deeper than games like the recent Darksiders or Brutal Legend. It’s right up there with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 as one of those tough games that when played right, makes you feel like a gaming badass. All that’s left now is to see how it faces up to Dante’s Inferno and God of War III. We’ll find out soon enough right here at The No Sleep Gamer.

7.5/10

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