|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: platinumgames||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 5, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Prior to release, much had been made of Bayonetta's titular hero. From her ridiculous proportions to the guns on her feet, gamers either loved or hated her instantly as soon as they set eyes on her. However, Bayonetta the game is much more than its main character. With plenty of gunslinging action, crazy character designs, and a vast world to explore, there is plenty to love about Bayonetta.
Bayonetta does a great job of giving you that instant rush of excitement that has become synonymous with the action genre. Although most games start off with an extensive back-story, filled with character introductions and setting details, Bayonetta does not. Instead, you'll be dropped head first into a battle on top of a falling clock tower. Initially, there's no tutorial and no interspersed cutscenes, just you, some baddies, and your button mashing. Like most action games of its ilk, Bayonetta has an intuitive battle system that relies on mashing buttons in a certain pattern, and by throwing you straight into the thick of battle.
But fear not, because eventually there will be a tutorial mode where you'll learn the finer points of controlling our heroine. Although the control scheme purports to be quite simple, with a singular button tied to hands, another for feet, and a third for guns, the devil, so to speak, is in the details. Simply put, Bayonetta is a woman with many weapons, not to mention magic, which means that the battle system is quite complex. In order to utilize all of your arsenal to its fullest potential, you'll have to master a large list of combos, which grows as Bayonetta's powers increase.
Speaking of magic, let's talk about Bayonetta's flair for the dark arts. In the world of the game, witches are born as mortals who have extraordinary spiritual ability. This spiritual ability leads to a pact with demons, which witches use to give them their power over the supernatural. Bayonetta's witch powers are a central part of the combat, and are accessible mainly through combo moves and finishers. Weak magic attacks, such as the hair-based Wicked Weave attacks are fairly easy to perform and require a few combo button presses to initiate. However, finishing and strong magic attacks will require you to build up spiritual energy in a power meter. Unfortunately, these larger attacks are a little inconvenient to engage, and are only really useful at the end of a boss battle. Still, just knowing that you have an attack in your arsenal that can summon iron maidens, guillotines, and hair-based dragons out of thin air is pretty freakin' cool.
Of course, there's the thing that ties the whole combat system together: Witch Time. Witch Time is a component of the battle system that allows you to dodge incoming attacks at just the right moment for a special bonus that will slow down time. This allows you to move out of the way of a crushing blow and charge up a devastating attack or unleash a brutal combo while the enemy stands fixed in time. The Witch Time system really is the cornerstone of the battle system, and it will help you pull off the most complex six-and-seven button combos with grace and style.
Even though I could go on for days about how awesome the combat is in Bayonetta (it really is superb), I have to say that it isn't my favorite component of the game. That honor actually belongs to the game's creative design, which is nothing short of spectacular. Everything here, from the fiery depths of Inferno to the flowery fields of Paradiso, is incredibly rendered with lush detail, texturing, and animation. The character designs, particularly those of the angels and demons, are also amazingly creative and come to life with just the right amount of vitality. Animations never look awkward, and even though most of the creatures are of mythic lore, they move around just as you would expect them to. Bayonetta is a very smooth-looking game, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the creative team put just as much effort into the world around Bayonetta as they did Bayonetta herself.