Bayonetta: 360 review

Evolution is a wonderful thing, it’s the gradual improvement of something to make it better and faster than it was before. Thousands of years ago we were bashing bits of flint together to make rudimentary tools, now we’re buying skinny latte coffee whilst dancing to our MP3 files of German sub techno. The same thing applies to video games; sometimes developers will stop churning out sequels as if their lives depend on it and instead concentrate on honing and sharpening up what has come before. Bayonetta falls into that category and it doesn’t need an MP3 of German techno to prove it.

If you looked at any preview of Bayonetta before its release then you’d be quite forgiven for thinking that you were witnessing nothing more than a rehash of Devil May Cry. Your thoughts would probably be confirmed greatly when you saw that the game was being made by Hideki Kamiya, the man who made his name at Capcom working on the Devil May Cry series. Both games feature guns, swords and mythical monsters but as a result of DMC losing its way with the last couple of games in the series it’s been up to Bayonetta to take it somewhere new. It does this with absolute gusto, reprising what has gone before in the most vivid way possible.

The storyline is really nothing that will cause you to drop the DVD box set of The Wire. It boils down essentially to good versus evil with amnesia thrown in. Such a thing does not produce originality but then Bayonetta isn’t the sort of game which relies on story in a big way as it prefers to dazzle you with massive set pieces and fast flowing combat.

And what a combat system it is. One button handles guns whilst two others govern kicks and strikes. What sounds very simple actually means you can gain access to a vast variety of combos. Add to this the fact it’s possible to pick up weapons dropped by defeated enemies, and the ability to use magic in order to squash angels with giant leather boots, and you’ll find that there’s a whole lot of scope for a variety of attacks. It’s extremely easy to chain together moves that combine the forces of high kicks and hell fire to devastating effect. Once your opponents are stunned the real fun begins with the addition of Torture Attacks which can end a fight with the use of guillotines and iron maidens for liberal splashings of gore. It is, of course, completely over the top but then Bayonetta seems to rejoice in such things. This is a full on action game and there’s no way it wants you to forget that in a hurry. The problem with some games of this type is that the combat system remains inflexible throughout and renders the battles boring after a short while. Not only does Bayonetta have a system which is both expansive and great to look at but it also has a good few abilities to unlock later on in the game. Obviously it isn’t the only game with a whole shopping list of different combos to choose from but it’s rare that you’re given such an explosive starting point from the off.

If you’ve played any of the games that were released under the Clover Studio banner a few years ago then you’ll probably see echoes of them in Bayonetta and it’s clear that the game’s designers have acknowledged their back catalogue in the best way possible. They’ve taken the sense of humour and frantic action displayed previously in God Hand, mixed it with the visual flair of Viewtiful Joe and then blended it with the imagination of Okami. It appears that elements of Bayonetta have been with us for quite some time in other games made by the same team, it’s only now they’ve come together to form something special. They’ve also found the time to reference their Capcom related past as well. Why else would your friendly arms trader utter the phrase “Whatcha buying?” before you hand over your hard earned cash?

There are other games that have done what Bayonetta does in the past and have been quite solid hack and slash games in the process. What marks Bayonetta out from the crowded pack is the style with which the game is executed. Platinum Games haven’t been satisfied with just churning out a bog standard game mechanic and have instead made a game full of passion that caters for hardcore gamers. Not only does the game constantly keep you on your toes with action but it throws in some great set pieces and huge boss battles to keep everything fresh. The staff at Platinum Games have been giving us games in the past that were favourites with critics but were far too off the wall to be considered commercial successes. If there is any justice in the world then they’ll have their first breakthrough hit with Bayonetta, the game that they seem to have been building up to all these years.


9/10

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Written by Cameron P

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