Game Review: Bayonetta

Bayonetta: BusyGamer Score 3 of 5

First Glance:
Sexy character, sexy action and gameplay, A varied world full of pretty environments and visually well-designed enemies. Hails of bullets mixed with fighting game-style hand to hand combat, mixed with God of War or Prince of Persia-style adventure, delivered by a colder-than-James Bond English witch.

The Short Story:
Let’s address it straight off- yes, Bayonetta has a sexy female lead character. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not enough to carry a bad game. The good news: Bayonetta isn’t a bad game. The gameplay focuses on action and the execution of over-the-top combat moves to propel you on a tour of an eye candy heavy world populated with antagonistic angels that are both grotesque and stereotypically heavenly at the same time. The game is all about the battles, and the battles happen nearly constantly. But there are also scattered puzzles to solve, items to collect, secrets to find, and lore to unveil. It’s fun, it’s pretty, it’s full of action.

The Score:
Bayonetta’s gameplay is divided into chapters, which are divided into verses. The game will autosave at the completion of each verse, so even if you can’t finish the chapter, you can come back to it with a minimal amount of replay. However, your enjoyment of the game, as well as your performance, will suffer if you don’t have the time to complete a chapter continuously most of the time. A player with average skills should be able to complete a chapter in under two hours generally, but for optimal enjoyment, you will want to have time to play in longer stretches at least sometimes. You can also put Bayonetta down for a day or two without completely forgetting where you are and what you’re doing, and if you do, the fact that you can practice your combo moves on the loading screens should help you pick it back up. Because of this, I am giving Bayonetta a Busy Gamer 3. Players will enjoy the game most if they have the time to play about four three-hour sessions a week.

Reviewer Rika Stead by Jim Brown

Body of Review:
Bayonetta is one of the most pleasant gaming experiences I have had in a while, just for the simple reason that there isn’t much in the game that gets in the way of your enjoyment. It’s easy on the eyes, both Bayonetta and her world were designed with attention to detail. But the game also doesn’t err on the side of pursuing the philosophy of “sex sells.. so we don’t need anything else.” While much has been made of Bayonetta’s sex appeal, she’s not just a cartoon sex doll. Yeah, she’s sexy, but she also has a uniqueness to her that makes her more of a real character, less of a vehicle to bring tits into the game. (BTW, in case you can’t use Google image search yourself, there are no flotation-device-like boobs on Bayonetta, and no perceivable boob bounce animations.) Bayonetta’s character is endearing in a way. Some of the lines they gave her are a bit cheesy, as are some of the moves, but they are delivered in a way that makes you feel like Bayonetta is quite aware of the cheese factor and is dropping her lines with just a hint of irony.

And the combat doesn’t suck either. Bayonetta executes over the top combo moves, and can learn special techniques, such as turning into a panther for bursts of speed or dodging while in the air as the game progresses. The combos are made up of martial arts-style moves accompanied by the constant hail of bullets from all four of Bayonetta’s guns. The most important concept in Bayonetta combat is the dodge. Not only is it necessary to avoid damage, but dodging at the absolute last second also triggers “Witch Time”- AKA time stops for everything around you, enabling you to pummel your enemies without risk of reciprocation or to make your way across obstacles that you otherwise cannot.

Aside from Witch Time, another important aspect of combat is the Torture Attack. When Bayonetta has enough magic power and risks fighting in close quarters with her enemy, she can execute Torture Attacks. When the indicator appears, mash the punch and kick button at the same time, and then max out the attack by repeatedly hitting the button you are prompted to. Crazy animations involving torture devices applied to angels ensue, accompanied by highly effective damage. Climax attacks follow pretty much the same format, except they can only be used as finishing moves in certain fights. Bayonetta also can acquire new weapons through out the game, including a whip, claws containing a demon’s soul, shotguns, and… ice skates.

One of the strongest aspects of the game is the way it is adaptable to different skill levels, play-styles, and interests. Of course there are difficulty levels to choose from at the start (and two more unlock able difficulties) but the choices don’t stop with the menu screen. Every “verse” is scored on your performance, and a medal is given based on how well you did. At the end of the chapter, you are rewarded with a statue- which statue is of course based on your score. If you don’t care about high scores, you can still eek through the levels and enjoy the story and experiencing new settings. If you play as a conquest, you can strive for the highest medals possible. (Get all Platinum and you can play as Jeanne, Bayonetta’s nemesis/counterpart/former associate.) If you’re into collecting, you can devote your attention to getting all of the hidden items in each chapter. This flexibility also adds to the replay value, as you can go back to earlier chapters to improve your score, find an item you missed, or make more Halo, the game’s currency.

Bayonetta is a nice balance of over-the-top stylization and substance in game play. It’s rare to find a game that gives you such glamor without it being at the expense of solid and enjoyable actual play. The one weakness, if you see it that way, is the storyline. It’s not awful, it’s just not extremely literary. (Although actually reading the lore you collect does flesh it out ALOT.) But in all fairness, not every good movie has an epically intricate story- sometimes action and ass-kicking is enough. The same concept can be applied to Bayonetta. It’s not a Final Fantasy VII. It is what it is.. but it’s really good at it.

Posted By Rika Hollinshead Stead

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