Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: Bayonetta

Bayonetta (2010)
Developer: Platinum Games
Platform: X-Box 360, Wii U
Induction Date: 01/05/2010, 10/29/2014

She likes sucking on lollipops slowly and surely.

When I played the game's demo early last month, I was quite impressed with Bayonetta that it became a point of obsession for me. In what would be a first in my video gaming life, the end product was not what I thought it would be. This is a history in the making because I have never been so hyped-up about a game and then gets totally shafted by the experience. This may sound dramatic but I can tell you that Bayonetta is still an incrediblly fun game. It's just frustrating to know that the game could have been a masterpiece if not for some stupid design choices made by the developer.

A heavenly ascension or a trip to hell? Maybe the latter for the angels.

Having awakened from an eternal slumber, Bayonetta is forced to live a modern world without any memories of her past other than the fact that she wields the powers of a witch and that she is constantly being harassed by the agents of heaven. We later learn that Bayonetta is being guided by a mysterious voice that beckons her to dig deeper into her past and this lead to an adventure of epic proportions. Having played the full version of the game, it is obvious now that the game's story is very tongue-in-cheek. Though a bit thin and unsatisfactory, the story is fortunately not that convoluted. It is incredibly silly, however. I do like the idea that you are playing a witch fighting against angels and the game doesn't justify that these angels have gone rogue or anything like that. You are fighting the forces of light that hate the forces of darkness, which means that they want Bayonetta dead while desiring to steal the secret of her existence from her. The entire game is told via real-time cut-scenes and I always like it when developers do so because it maintains great coherence in the game's visual presentation. When you are running a game using a great 3D engine like the one found here, there's really no need for full motion videos. For those who own both the PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360, get the 360 version. It's prettier to look at.

She likes implementing hardcore BDSMs into her fighting moves.

Bayonetta is a full action game with some light platforming elements and limited instances of quick-time events - yes, we can still blame Shenmue for making QTEs popular. The fighting mechanics is definitely very polished and it's not until after you have purchased all of the available moves that you will see its brilliance. You can equip Bayonetta with a number of weapons and they all come with their own unique set of combos. Everything is tied together by the game's dodge mechanics - if you dodge during the last moment before Bayonetta is hit, "Witch Time" is triggered where everything on the screen slows down. It's another version of "bullet-time" but it's very brief even though you can do a lot of damage during that short window of opportunity if you know what you are doing. Beating up your enemies build up your magic meter and once you have acquired enough of that, you can perform "Torture Attacks", a fatality of sort, that can take out a huge chunk of an enemy's life or kill the enemy instantaneously. Then, there's the "Climax" attack where you get to totally humiliate huge monstrosities, including the game's ridiculously gigantic bosses, by summoning a variety of infernal demons to do what they please to their helpless victims. It's all very satisfying. The game also contains a couple of totally out of place stages that involve more than clearing enemies from point A to point B but as out of whack as these "special" stages are, they fit perfectly into the overall aesthetics of the game's already goofy premise. After you completed a chapter, you can revisit it as often as you like and you can change its difficulty level as well. You will be doing a lot of this after completing the game to collect halos to buy new items from the store as well as to beat your previous performance record.

Little girls look up to her while big boys want to be with her.

Bayonetta is a fun game that you want to keep playing over and over again but there are things that hinder it from true greatness. Its most cardinal sin is its vanity - no, I am not talking about the pole-dancing, quick-witted, overly sexy Brit of a main character. She is definitely a lot of fun to watch and her dialogues never fail to make you to let out a laugh or two. The problem here is the constant interruptions from long-winded cut-scenes between the action. Some of these cut-scenes were actually removed in the demo version of the game - so apparently, the developer does know how off-putting they can be, especially after the first time seeing them. They can be skipped but it's not a one-button input: when you pause the cut-scene, you need to select and then confirm the action. The process of doing this is fast (be warned that it comes with loading time on the PS3) but I wish that there was a main option to just skip all of the game's cut-scenes. Then, there is also the problem with boss repetition, which is always a big no-no in my book. Bosses are meant to be unique but the game likes to recycle bosses like how Bayonetta herself likes to suck on lollipops: Very often! When you have completely decimated a boss with such gory and glory via the "Climax" attack, the last thing you want to see is the same boss showing up again in front of you alive and well later in the game. Lastly, the "Climaxes" themselves. When triggered, they are pretty much nothing more than a collection of pre-set interactive cut-scenes. I wish they could happen anywhere in the game's real time 3D space like the "Torture Attacks" because it would have given them more impact.

Fact: Supposedly "holy" books have always been used to summon mindless minions.

So after all of the pain and suffering that I have endured waiting for this game's arrival, what did I get in the end? Well, I did get a little bit of that Bayonetta fever but sometimes I wonder if it was just a symptom of the swine flu. The game has its moments when it comes to presenting grand spectacles but they are few and far between. The game seems to drift off into laziness halfway through though the responsive fighting system still shines brightly every single time I found myself playing the game. I don't think this game is better than the more structured Devil May Cry series and that my friend is a hurtful thing to say to such a charming and attractive old witch like Bayonetta.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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