Bayonetta Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

Mature games that treat adult gamers as adults are a more prevalent happening these days, though nowhere near to the extent that one might expect. SEGA’s and Platinum Game’s Bayonetta, with its eponymous, potentially embarrassing leading lady and Juvenile OTT action, is far from being part of this elusive group.

Bayonetta is reminiscent of Devil May Cry (not the biggest shock, when you consider that both games were created by Hideki Kamiya) with all of the style and the wit of Capcom’s great series having been carried over to Kamiya’s new extreme action game effort. It’s a game of the zany Japanese variety, with a story that’s likeable nonsense and a lead character with magical hair that she uses as a weapon in combat, some attacks of which leave her half naked, as her outfit also happens to be crafted from those very same follicle strands. She also has guns attached to her feet and some cheesy Dante style wisecracking that marks her out as a memorable and likeable new heroine, so obviously from a personality standpoint she’s not really anything new, but on the other hand, her visually spectacular fighting style certainly is.

The fighting is fluid, deep and rapid, though the camera does an admirable job of framing the insane action (thankfully the perverse cameraman’s obsession with getting the best view of Bayonetta’s sizable rear end in the cut scenes, doesn’t interfere on an interactive level) it’s also combo heavy, but nonetheless accessible to all. The easier difficulties have generous combo windows, allowing even the most inept to deliver some powerful combos and feel empowered with next to no effort. Playing it on normal difficulty or higher however, will require more carefully timed attacks and a skill for dodging enemy attacks.

Dodging is all the more important when you consider that doing it at the last possible second will trigger Witch Time. This slows the usually supersonic action down to a crawl, allowing you to, within that brief timeframe, gain a vital edge over your enemies, not always only in regards to speed, but also because enemies that you were previously not able to knock into the air can be with certain combos, just as long as Witch Time is activated.

You also have a magic bar too, which is filled through successful attacks, though lost through incurring damage yourself. Once you manage to get the bar full, you are then able to use Torture Attacks on your enemies, summoning pain dealing objects, and, being the most damaging attacks in your rather hefty arsenal, are just as nasty as they look.

Unsurprisingly there are multiple weapons, but in a welcome touch you aren’t expected to learn a whole new range of combo commands to make use of them. Instead, all of them have the same button combinations, which means there’s no need to memorise and master new ones. Better still is the option to equip weapons to Bayonetta’s hands and feet, offering scope for fairly individualised fighting styles.

Boss encounters are a fairly regular occurrence in Bayonetta and the best are amongst the most epic and memorable fights that the genre has to offer: some of them have you running along their huge bodies, to pound on their weak spots, which gives you an idea of just how insane the action can get. All of them are destroyed in brutal manner via Bayonetta’s freaky, cannibalistic hair, with your involvement in such destruction being button bashing.

Each stage is divided into smaller sections and upon completion of them, you are then ranked based on your overall performance (that being the time you took, the level of damage you received and the amount of combos you executed) which does wonders for the lifespan of the game. Halo’s are awarded, of which can be spent to learn new manoveoueres or to buy items or upgraded versions of weapons.

There’s also exploration, though this certainly is nowhere near as prevalent as the combat, and some light puzzle solving elements scattered throughout, as well. They serve as a great respite from the core of the game, even though they don’t quite manage to match the domineering fighting aspect in terms of quality.

A further change of pace comes from (minor spoiler warning) a motorbike and flying section, both of which are homage’s to two of SEGA’s most famous games, Super Hang on and Space Harrier. They don’t feel tacked on, as they would do in many other games and, as with just about every aspect, they contribute to the overall quality of Bayonetta.

It may very well be juvenile, but, similarly to Devil May Cry its distant relation, with Bayonetta that’s all part of the madcap fun. It’s hard not to be charmed by its strong Japanese sensibilities and dazzled by its ultra fast and fluid combat, all of which makes Bayonetta easily one of the best games of its class and the first classic title of a year that could potentially be filled with them.

9/10

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