|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Platinum Games|
|Release: October 24, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes|
by Sean Engemann
The return of the Umbra Witch Bayonetta has been met with elation, but also skepticism due to her exclusivity to the Wii U console. Judging from the mature subject matter of the original title, many critics feel Bayonetta 2 has no place on a Nintendo platform. However, if you can bury the false notion that Nintendo consoles are merely for children, you'll find that Bayonetta 2 nails many qualities that Nintendo takes pride in–a memorable story and characters, flawless controls, and a game that is just plain fun to play.
You can also leave behind any thoughts that Bayonetta 2 has been watered down to family friendly standards. Enemies are dispatched in a brutal fashion, the language is coarse, and Bayonetta herself is even more confident in her combat prowess and comfortable in her sexuality than before. This is definitely not a game to play around onlooking toddlers or an insecure wife for you married men out there. Thankfully the off-TV mode allows you to play the game in discreet comfort on the Wii U's GamePad. The insanity of animations makes keeping track of everything on the smaller screen difficult, and is not recommended should you be chasing a high score, but it is still a respectable alternative to indulge in this guilty pleasure.
Despite the subject matter, the content never feels raunchy or overly explicit, but rather clearly designed to present a spectacle of dramatic flairs. Though she exudes confidence, Bayonetta displays a warmth and caring for her friends both new and old, providing a narrative that keeps building towards an epic climax.
Speaking of climaxes, this is how the game's difficulty levels are distinguished. At 1st Climax (Easy), button mashing is enough to breeze through the eight to ten hour story without fearing death. The challenge level drastically increases at 2nd Climax, 3rd Climax, and (once unlocked) Infinite Climax, demanding a skilled hand with the dodge button and plethora of attack combinations to nab the coveted Pure Platinum award at the end of each level. And believe me, the replay value is alluring enough that you'll want to revisit past boards. There are collectibles to find, handicapped challenges to partake in, and the simple drive to improve your score. The game's currency of gold rings, called Halos, can be spent at the Gates of Hell club to purchase new weapons, attacks, consumables, and costumes, some inspired by various Nintendo franchises.
The visuals, though a far sight better looking than the PS3 and Xbox 360 predecessor, are inferior when placed against offerings from the other current generation consoles. The environments lack any fine details, which are easily noticeable when travelling between each Verse (a wave of enemies). Once in combat though, it's hard not to be taken by the amazing animations and original and complex designs of the angels and demons. Every one of Bayonetta's attacks are as big as her personality and infused with her infernal powers, making each strike a crushing blow that reverberates both on the screen and through the speakers. The imposing enemies are nothing to scoff at either. Each new enemy is heralded onto the scene with a flourish and scribed into a bestiary for future lore perusing. Sporting unique physical characteristics, attack patterns, and defenses, no two enemies feel the same. The lower tier fodder appear more frequently, but always in different quantities and make-up, displacing any fears of redundancy.
Dancing your way through battles with dozens of attack combinations using an assortment of interchangeable weapons showcases Bayonetta's prowess at eviscerating angels and demons alike. Building your magic gauge opens windows to unleash Torture Attacks–brutal inflictions such as an infernal treadmill feeding into spinning spikes, or Bayonetta's demoness Madama Butterfly grasping the enemy and slamming it around like a ragdoll. The coveted Witch Time makes a return, briefly slowing down the action after a well timed dodge to get in some extra strikes. The new Umbran Climax significantly increases her damage output when activated, and unleashes greater fury from her summoned "pets". Every move is executed flawlessly with the game's extremely tight controls, with the ability to interrupt any move with the indispensible dodge at a moment's notice of an incoming strike. Whether you utilize the entire playbook of combinations, or stick to a few failsafe options, you'll never tire of using them throughout the entirety of the game.