Review by grandcross

"Bayonetta makes it worth your while."

(PS3 version reviewed)

Faced against countless waves of vengeful angels, the powerful, sexy Bayonetta swings her body around more elegantly than a Cirque du Soleil dancer while punishing each of her foes in the most over-the-top ways. But does the game Bayonetta deliver the “non-stop climax action” it promises?

Yes it does - Bayonetta is a balls to the wall action-packed game that picks up the ante from the very beginning and rarely slows down, with plentiful amounts of combat, numerous weapons and attack combinations to use, while the cutscenes in-between carry the flow. It's not without some flaws, but there was certainly truth to the excitement this game delivers.

The very first thing Bayonetta gives you is an incredibly epic battle, setting the stage for the rest of the game. This provides an early chance to experiment with what the gameplay has to offer, and in the very next battle, you're given a chance to learn what you can really do with a quick tutorial. Bayonetta can pull off plenty of moves from the beginning, with a large list of various attack combinations in her arsenal, witch-time to slow the action down, and torture attacks, which use her witch-powers to literally torture her enemies with various tools. She is given more weapons to play with later, ranging from whips, swords, nunchakus, laser guns, and more. These weapons diversify an already long list of attack combinations, making combat both creative and intense. There's a large variety of enemies and bosses to kill, and each of them do things differently to keep the action mixed up. The real fun of Bayonetta is when you've mastered the mechanics and are dishing out all sorts of unique attacks and running circles around your foes. There's plenty more surprises along the way, as well.

The drive; the motivation to kick ass in Bayonetta, is how the game grades your performance. Each battle is graded with a medal, ranging from the poor “stone” medal to the perfect “pure platinum” medal. At the end of each chapter, you're scored on these medals, and the better you do, the more halos, or money, you get. These halos can be cashed in, and you can purchase items to help you out, accessories, weapons or techniques to make Bayonetta even more flexible in battle, or treasures, which add some cosmetic features. These purchases are quite expensive, so simply put, you're better off with the more effort you put in.

When the action does slow down, some of the flaws in Bayonetta become present. One issue that has been quite feverishly brought up is the condition of the PS3 port, which does have some framerate loss. Allow me to say that the PS3 version is very much playable, and these issues have been blown out of proportion. Besides a select number of cutscenes, approximately 3-4 battles, and one part of one chapter, the framerate does not interfere with the gameplay in any considerable way. There's also the issue of less vibrant colors, but considering the fast pace of the game, you probably won't be noticing the minor details. However, the game was indeed built specifically for the 360, so if you are given the choice, then there's not much reason to get the PS3 version. If you don't have that choice, then the PS3 will still run a perfectly playable, enjoyable version of Bayonetta.

Another issue is the story, which might as well have been there for the sake of being there, for the sole purpose to carry the game along. This is not exactly a game played specifically for story, but it feels very meaningless. The characters may be likable, they have their own kicks to keep things going and the concept and setting can be interesting, but it's pretty much forgettable by the time the game's over. Things happen, things go bad, and things get better. It's rather trite. One redeeming quality is that you have chances to explore and observe your surroundings, and books can be picked up and read to provide some background history on the locations and themes. It's a nice touch to what is otherwise a rather mediocre story.

Like QTEs? Well, Bayonetta throws a few of them that are out to get unsuspecting players. As noted, you're graded on how well you do in each chapter, but dying is a severe penalty. Missing a QTE means death, so an unprepared player will suffer if they died in a QTE. The nice thing is that if you did die, the game allows you to continue just before that QTE so you can do it properly next time. However, there's still that penalty, and it feels cheap. There aren't many QTEs throughout the game, but they're around, and they'll get anyone who isn't paying complete attention at all times.

There are a total of five difficulty modes in Bayonetta – very easy, easy, normal, hard, and “non-stop climax” mode. Very Easy and Easy are a bit too easy, Normal provides quite a challenge, and I'm sure the harder difficulties can spank Bayonetta about. These difficulty modes can be adjusted at any time before each chapter, however, making it convenient if you can't handle the punishment. When you finish the game, you'll probably want to spend some additional time playing through the difficulty modes, as there are a number of things to unlock.

Overall, Bayonetta does live up to the hype and brings plenty of fast-paced, exciting and tense action. Most of its' problems can easily be overlooked and forgiven depending on how the game is approached. There are plenty of enjoyable qualities in Bayonetta, so if you're in the mood for “non-stop climax action”, Bayonetta will make it worth your while.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/10

Game Release: Bayonetta (JP, 10/29/09)


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