Sunday, June 16, 2013

Game Review: Bayonetta

Action; PS3/Xbox 360; Platinum Games/SEGA; 2010
Happy Father's Day to all you Dads who read this... None of you are fathers I take it? Anyway, to celebrate the day of patriarchal appreciation I will review a game that all fathers will enjoy... namely because it stars a hot chick with librarian glasses fighting monsters wielding a set of 4 guns and an outfit so skin tight that it would have left very little to the imagination if she didn't take it all off at a moment's notice revealing what remaining imagination there was. This is Bayonetta.... Okay, I didn't actually plan this as a Father's Day entry. I saw the Nintendo E3 Direct and saw footage for Bayonetta 2 and then realize that I hadn't played the original despite having a copy and being a Devil May Cry fan, and today just so happens to be Father's Day... So yeah. Anyway, on to the review.

High on Style, Low on Plot. Not surprising coming from the team behind Devil May Cry.
Bayonetta stars a hairy witch by the same name. She was found 20 years ago at the bottom of a lake with no memories and constantly hunted by Angels for being a wielder of dark magic and a summoner of demonic beings by using her hair that forms her clothing. Searching for answers to her questions, Bayonetta is guided to the European town of Vigrid looking for the jewels called the "Eyes of the World" a possible key to her sealed memories. Fighting Angels, a fellow witch, and being stalked by an investigative journalist who believes she killed his father and a little girl who calls her Mummy, Bayonetta makes her way through Vigrid in a world between Earth, Heaven, and Hell. Are the answers she is looking for waiting for her at the end, or are there some questions that should never be answered?

The plot of Bayonetta is.... well... Interesting. It's more complex than the likes of the Devil May Cry series, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. It's not that the story is some grand opera with a cast of thousands each being woven (or bludgeon) into place with a grandiose message behind it, nor is it all that weird when you think about it (or at least weird to ME considering I watch a lot of anime where weird shit is just a matter of course). It's more like it is actually rather straight forward, but isn't presented as such and a few elements are just poorly expounded upon, like how precisely the little girl is important, or how the villain's plan is anything but one large Xanatos Roulette. But then again, just like Devil May Cry, the story is just here so that we can have some resemblance of plot to tie in the massively large over-the-top action set pieces. As such, take what you can get, even if it isn't much. But at least the characters are entertaining and likable.

Somewhere, Ash is wondering why he can't get THAT chainsaw graphed to his arm.
If you ever played Devil May Cry, you will be right at home as soon as Bayonetta starts up. After watching some over-the-top cinematics where it is made clear that Platinum games have no qualms with making their lead character a sex object (in fact it happens to often you just kind of adapt to it) you are thrown into the action. You have two attack buttons, one for punching and one for kicking, which you alternate between to utilize Bayonetta's combos, which usually ends with her using her hair to punch and kick the enemy to death. You can also hold down the respective attack button to utilize the guns equipped to her hands and feet. Yes, she equips guns on her feet... how does she pull the trigger on those things? Also, by charging up her magic meter, Bayonetta can utilize a "Torture Attack" where she pulls out some torture machine out of the aether and deals massive damage to the foe by having the player bash a button several times (This is also how you defeat almost all of the bosses). However, unlike Devil May Cry which focused more on changing up your attacks, Bayonetta is more focused on evading and counter attacking. By dodging at the very last second of an enemy's attack, you enter "Witch Time" which slows everything except you down allowing you to wail on defenseless enemies. This gives Bayonetta a different overall strategy, as I spent some fights waiting around for the enemy to attack me so that I can enter Witch Time for a more satisfying pounding. You can also walk on walls, which is isn't as disorientating as it could have been, expect for trying to get ONTO the walls, but the limits of when you can and can't use it are very arbitrary, making it more of a gimmick for some sections rather than a feature.

For some reason, whenever a character is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal that is what I call the character.
However there are a few problems with Bayonetta. First and foremost is what I'm told is an issue with the version I played, the PS3 version, and that is Loading time. Good GRIEF, you know your game has a problem when it take 5 seconds just to load the freakin' menus! It doesn't help that there are two menus, a system menu where you have Options and Restart Chapter and the game menu where you equip and use your items and you keep forgetting which menu is for which. You pretty much have to install the game onto the hard drive if you don't want to look at "Loading..." for up to 15 seconds at any given time. On the gameplay side, there are a few choices that while it does make the game harder, I'm not entirely convinced it's for the right reasons. For one, your magic meter decreases, like a LOT, every time you get hit. This makes the magic meter, and by extension the Torture Attacks, more of a Star Punch from Punch-Out!! rather than a Devil Trigger from DMC. It makes it even harder to build up because of the focus on perfect dodges. Another thing I noticed is that Health Drops are actually rather rare in my experience, and with the only other means of healing being items, whose use is penalized just like in DMC, it makes having poor performances in combat a rather lasting penalty. And lastly, the quick time events. Now, I don't mind QTEs that much, what I DO mind is having them come out of no where, asking you to perform any number of possible actions, and then penalizing your for failure by instantly KILLING YOU! And in a game that already is trying to make you feel bad about sucking, that is a little too much.

Now, despite my bitching about it's QTE and the lack of nourishment I still had a blast playing Bayonetta. It's like Devil May Cry 4 if they didn't forget what to do for the later half of the game, and does rest somewhere between DMC3 and DMC4 both in terms of quality and difficulty. If you like these types of over-the-top action Hack 'n' Slash games, then Bayonetta is right up your alley, and if it wasn't for the instant kill QTE or the instances where we completely shift genres and become a very poor Star Fox game, I would have placed it above Devil May Cry. But even so, it comes Highly Recommended.

Until Next Time.

-Crescent, those look familiar....

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