Bayonetta 2 - Review
Bayonetta 2, at its core, is simply a playground. This is a game that opens with a giant hair-dragon/demon tearing apart a skyscraper before being bludgeoned into the earth by a witch with wings, and that's just for the tutorial. Yet, for all its over-the-top cinematics and humongous enemies, it's also a game with a tremendous amount of depth, building on the groundwork laid out by Devil May Cry over a decade ago.
For those that have played the original Bayonetta, this sequel will be familiar territory. Many of the game's improvements are subtle, rather than radical, changes. Combat remains incredible simple on the surface; one button for punching, another for kicking, before becoming incredibly more complex once you factor in Witch Time, magical bullet-time that's triggered whenever you dodge an attack at the last second.
That of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. The abundance of equipment options have also been fleshed out; many weapons can be equipped on either your hands or feet, affecting the timing as well as style of attacks you carry out. The number of combinations alone is immense and it's all tied up together in a fighting system that's beautifully designed; easing in newcomers whilst providing more hardcore players with plenty to sink their teeth into.
New weapons such as a arm-mounted bowgun, allow you to swap into a more long-range, defensive style when the need arises, as well as take down some aerial enemies with greater ease. Other weapons are remixes of old ones, tweaked enough that they feel fresh. The first game's Durga claws make a comeback, except this time they're a pair of flame/ice throwers, complete with new a new moveset that allows them to pump out a gout of flame or ice at the end of a combo.
If the core of the game is built on Devil May Cry's foundations, Bayonetta 2 still takes the time to crib a few ideas from elsewhere. As with the original, there's plenty of spectacle to rival God of War. The first game was no slouch in this regard, but Bayonetta 2 cranks things up another notch. Square Enix have spent years churning out botched games that attempt to replicate Final Fantasy: Advent Children's fight sequences, and Bayonetta comes along one-ups it, and does so without turning the whole thing into an interactive cutscene
Visually, Bayonetta 2 is something of a different beast to its predecessor. There's more variety this time around, while the initial chapters have you taking on the usual statue-faced winged monsters from heaven, there's a switch-up about halfway through that sees you also fighting monsters from hell. The enemy designs remain incredibly fresh, avoid the typical gore-covered monsters that you'd normally expect. A giant cyber manta-ray is a particular highlight in game that's full of unique moments.
Hell itself is a surprisingly beautiful place, made up of bright hues of purple and red, contrasting well with the gold-tinged heaven of the original game. Platinum Games aren't afraid of using colour to evoke a particular mood or tone. Oh, and let's not forget this is a Sega published game, so always been on the lookout for those crisp, bright blue skies.
As with the gameplay, the story and cutscenes have also seen a trim, in order to refine them. The original had plenty of visual spectacle, but the overly-long cutscenes and bucket loads of daft exposition began to drag after a while; this is a game that's meant to be played, not listening to hours of pointless dialogue. Bayonetta 2 seems to understand this, with cutscenes and general plot info taking a back seat.
There's still plenty of great moments between some of the supporting cast, such as Jeane and Rodin. And if there was ever a character that deserved his own spin-off game, it's surely get to be Rodin; the cigar-chomping demon weapons salesmen, with a penchant for classical music. Whilst Bayonetta's story might be completely clichéd; full of talk of magic power and a war between heaven and hell, it's characters still remain incredibly fun to be around.
If anything, there's slightly less comedy this time around. After a comical opening the game's tone is played relatively straight, which both helps and hinders the game in different respects. On the one hand it puts the combat front and centre; without the distraction of having to come up with silly jokes and quirky references, the game can focus instead on doing what it does best, being a great action title.
On the other hand, the reduced emphasis on comedy makes Bayonetta's character somewhat more awkward. The original always walked a fine line in regards to its female lead. On the one hand, she's an incredibly powerful female character, whose sexuality was more a part of her playful sense of power than it was something be ogled at by frustrated teenagers. Sure, she's absurdly proportioned, but the game's bizarre tone gave that some kind of justification, with almost all the characters being walking, talking hyperboles. With the tone being, to a degree, more serious this time round, some of the roving camera shots that constantly zoom in on her arse are a little bit suspect.
The game's undergone a few more subtle changes too, most notable is the reduction in difficulty. Don't be mistaken, Bayonetta 2 is still a hefty challenge, with those Pure Platinum trophies being particularly hard to achieve. Yet, overall, enemies seem more manageable this time around. Muspelheim, the game's bonus areas, are significantly easier than the original Bayonetta's Alfheim stages, with the requirements being much easier to accomplish and far less complex.
This concession in the game's difficulty is not a major problem however, the higher difficulties will still ensure veterans are in for a tougher challenge. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself comfortably hitting gold and platinum trophies even during you first playthrough...
A multiplayer mode allows you to team up with a friend and battle online through different challenges. It's a nice addition, but is also strangely unnecessary, considering that Bayonetta 2 is one of those rare games that has a single player that's worth playing through multiple times. A second pass through the games opens up so many new possibilities, trying out new weapon combinations, unlocking new equipment, not to mention striving for that perfect score. Familiarity usually breed contempt, with Bayonetta, the opposite couldn't be more true.
Overall, Bayonetta 2 is a perfect sequel...provided you like sequels that don't risks. It builds on what made the original great and carefully tweaks that game's weakest elements. There's a sense that Platinum Games didn't want to damage Hideki Kamiya's baby and so were reluctant to make any drastic changes, this is more a clever remix than it is a total evolution of the previous game. Still, fans can rest easy knowing that this sequels delivers pretty much everything they wanted, and Wii U owners can be thankful they've gotten arguably the best action game of the year.
Bayonetta 2 was released October 24th, exclusively for the Wii U.
© 2014 LudoLogic