GameSpot Reviews - Bayonetta

Uploaded by gamespot on 05.01.2010

The moment the prologue begins in Bayonetta, it's clear that you're in for a different
and very wild ride. As your character battles the armies of heaven on the face of an exploding
clock tower as it falls from a mountaintop, you realize that you've entered a world of
pure spectacle, where one witch's magic makes almost anything possible. Such is the world
of Bayonetta, and this is merely the first step on a long road of delightful insanity
that pushes the limits of ridiculosity to their breaking point. It's easy to dismiss
this high-octane hack-and-slash action game as all style with no substance because, well,
just look at it, but to do so would be a grave mistake. Beneath all its madness, Bayonetta
is a deep and intricately nuanced action game that allows everyone from an untrained button-masher
to a god of war to unleash impressive combo attacks and elegantly eliminate their enemies.
With expert pacing and a number of subtle but brilliant tweaks to the formula, Bayonetta
is a bewitching adventure that simply must be seen to be believed.
After 500 years of being sealed in a tomb at the bottom of a lake, the woman known as
Bayonetta remembers not much more than that she's a powerful witch and she's looking for
something called The Eyes of the World. On a tip from her informant, she heads to the
isolated city of Vigrid where she begins to piece together her missing memories and learn
about the downfall of the Umbran Witches and their opposites, the Lumen Sages. In and around
the ancient city, a series of hilariously over-the-top moments ensue--each of which
somehow surpasses the previous--that loosely form a coherent narrative amidst a plethora
of sight gags, sexual innuendos, and gratuitously violent angelic deaths. Amidst all the absurdity is a perfectly understandable
plot with some surprisingly sweet moments, but the main attraction is the combat, not
the storytelling.
Bayonetta is mortal enemies with the angels of Paradiso who seem to emerge at every corner
in Vigrid spoiling for a fight. Armed with a unique set of four guns (two of which are
attached to her high heels), Bayonetta punches, kicks, and shoots her way through the heavenly
aggressors that hound her every step. Besides the basics, she can also perform a number
of stylish special attacks to punish her enemies in often mind-boggling ways. It's hard not
to be hooked after performing your first outrageous combo, which may or may not involve break
dancing, conjured guillotines, and dozens of bullets to bridge together the myriad punches
and kicks.
However, the most important power at your disposal in Bayonetta is your instantaneous
ability to dodge any enemy attack at the pull of a trigger, which rewards you in more ways
than one. By dodging an attack at the last possible moment, Bayonetta temporarily slows
time down to a crawl for everyone else, allowing her to thoroughly thrash her foes and circumvent
their sometimes considerable defenses. Battle is a fluid and continuous dance, and your
performance is graded and compared against other players via online leaderboards. Obtaining
a coveted "pure platinum" grade is both challenging and rewarding, and going for one is a great
reason to replay to drive your scores higher and higher.
When not actively killing the agents of heaven, your time is spent solving simple environmental
puzzles, searching for hidden challenge rooms, and watching as the fun and preposterous story
unfolds one cutscene at a time. When the moon is full and visible--which happens much more
often than you would think--Bayonetta is able to walk on walls and ceilings to move about
or fight in some of the most memorable moments in the game. Action peaks when the most powerful
of angels appear to try and stop Bayonetta, and you'll need every one of the powers at
your disposal to defeat these titans of heaven.
Unfortunately, there is a great performance divide between the two versions of Bayonetta,
with the Xbox 360 platform coming out on top. Whereas the PS3 version is plagued by grainier
and more washed out visuals, noticeable frame-rate dips, and frequent and excessively long load
times, none of these issues are to be found in its Xbox 360 counterpart. All together,
these problems can notably affect your enjoyment, and in a game where high energy combat is
king, they are pretty significant.
Regardless of which version you play, Bayonetta's flexible fighting engine and competitive online
scoring system make it less a sister to other similar games as it is a next evolution of
them. Its battle controls feel natural and responsive from the very first moment you
experience them, and the magic remains there throughout the journey, whether you're throwing
a bus or fighting an enormous boss in the sky. Chock full of often silly but always
memorable moments, Bayonetta stays with you long after you've stopped playing.