Bayonetta: PS3 review

This review will deal with the slightly tedious 360 vs PS3 comparisons, but we’d like to start off by talking about the actual game, if it’s all the same to you.

Yes, it looks an awful lot like demon themed roaming beat em up Devil May Cry. Yes, the driving force behind this game is the creator of Devil May Cry. Most of us at CG aren’t huge DMC fans however; and yet Bayonetta has grabbed our attention with both hands.

Most immediately striking are the enemies, which are all ironically demonic looking angelic beings. The art design here is wonderful; as if renaissance art has been melded with monster design from cheap eighties horror movies. Dali would surely have been proud to have created each and every one of these monstrosities.

Bayonetta is an Umbra witch. All this seems to ultimately mean, is that she becomes nearly naked when performing her most powerful attacks. String together a long enough combo and almost all her clothing momentarily disappears, to form a demon or giant boot which delivers an especially powerful blow. When you’ve worn a boss down enough you can initiate a ‘Climax’ (ahem) which is a finishing move that summons a giant demonic being… which, of course, requires our heroine’s clothing to leave her body.

Yes, she's mostly naked there. Stop it, you'll go blind.

Were it not for the hypersexualisation of the heroine (with super long legs, a skintight all – in – one piece which she of course often ‘loses’, lots of single entendres [yes, single], and unambiguous poses and actions), Bayonetta could have given us a strong female lead. She’s confident, cool under pressure, strong in many ways, never ever a victim – but unfortunately, all too often 99% naked. It really does undermine everything else.

That said, it would almost be a surprise if Bayonetta didn’t have clothes that turned into weapons. The whole game is over the top and completely bonkers, and this is best seen in the plot – such as it is. It resembles an anime movie or manga comic more than anything else. It seems to be an amalgamation of three half – finished scripts; a gangster horror, an apocalyptic fantasy, and a romantic comedy written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. We shan’t try to explain (and therefore make sense of) the plot, for that way madness lies.

All that ultimately matters is the gameplay which, frankly, is fantastic. Combat utilises the deceptively simple setup of one button for punch, one for kick, one for shoot. There are a dizzying array of combos to be used, and success on Normal or above depends on using them. Hammering one button throughout the game will not work here. There is also a dodge button and, if you time the dodge perfectly, you initiate ‘witch time’. This is a period of a few seconds where any and all enemies will be frozen, allowing you to get some much needed free hits in.

This is a game for people of all abilities. Very Easy really is, Easy is a bit less so, and Normal (the highest difficulty initially available) eases you into the game before soon demanding that you watch what your enemies are doing, and pick how and when you attack carefully yet quickly. Finish the game on Normal and you unlock the evil Hard. Finish it on Hard…

Bayonetta doesn't do anything by halves - certainly not the bosses.

Then there are the medals and statues. Bayonetta is made up of sixteen chapters, each of which is split into ‘verses’ (chapter and verse, get it?). Your performance is judged on factors such as time taken, the number of times you died, and how many special items you used. Verse medals range from bronze to pure platinum, and chapter statues range from the humiliating ‘stone’ to pure platinum. Checkpoints are generously placed, and you get infinite continues; but only the best players in the world will build up a collection of pure platinum statues.

And now we come to the technical issues of Sega’s PS3 port. The good news is, things aren’t nearly as bad as the original Japanese demo threatened. It (mostly) runs as smoothly as the 360 version, with framerate issues and screen tearing almost never rearing their ugly heads on the UK retail copy we played. The colours do seem a little washed out however, and some background details can sometimes seem not quite so sharp as they should.

The loading times between levels and after you die on the PS3 version are, frankly, horrendous (there are even brief but annoying loading waits in the inventory menu). The loading screen may be a partly interactive affair where you can practice your combos, but it does little to justify the 20 – 30 seconds they last for almost every time. There’s no install option for the PS3 version, but you can install Bayonetta on the 360 if you have 6.8gb to spare. It must be said that if you can’t or won’t install the game on your 360, then you’ll face loading times just as bad as those your PS3 cousins are forced to bear.

UPDATE: Shortly after this review was completed, Sony announced a patch allowing Bayonetta to be installed on the PS3 hard drive.

At the end of the day however it’s exactly the same game on both formats, and what a great game it is. It even, in two sections, switches genres completely. The first such section is an ill – advised motorway chase, which isn’t nearly as fun as the rest of the game and goes on just a little too long. Even that misstep is full of spectacle, and is never less than enjoyable.

If you own both formats, buy Bayonetta on the 360. If you only have a PS3, yes it’s frustrating that the days of inferior PS3 ports aren’t quite over, but Bayonetta will not disappoint. Just make sure that whatever you do, you do buy Bayonetta.


9/10

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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