Bayonetta 2 delivers a much needed punch to the exclusive Wii U library.
Last week saw the release of two new games from Platinum Games. The first was the multi-platform The Legend of Korra, and we’ve now got Bayonetta 2, an exclusive title for the Wii U. I was really excited to play Bayonetta 2, especially after the bad taste left by Korra. So did Platinum Games at least give us one solid action to enjoy?
Hell yea they did.
When the original Bayonetta arrived for PS3 and Xbox 360 a few years back, I really enjoyed it. It was fast, over-the-top, and a lot of fun. These types of games aren’t my usual cup of tea, but I had a blast, and just wished that the game envisioned could keep up a little more technically, especially with the terrible PS3 port. With Bayonetta 2, we finally get the game I was hoping for, and much more.
Bayonetta 2 is a hyper-violent, hyper-paced, and hyper-sexualized action game, that tells the tale of the titular character, an Umbran Witch, on a quest to reach the Gates of Hell and rescue the soul of her friend Jeanne. The story is fun, but mostly forgettable. It’s also convoluted enough that I honestly had lost track of names and references within the first hour. It eventually manages to tighten itself together so that the end makes sense and has some meaning.
Story aside, blazing fast combat and endless combos and mid-air juggling are the name of this game, and in that regards, Bayonetta 2 does not disappoint. In contrast to the near busted controls offered in Korra, Bayonetta’s are near flawless. Outside of a just a punch and kick attack, which serve as weak and strong, there is also a dedicated range attack. This attack utilizes Bayonetta’s pistols, and assists with crowd control, as well as giving you the chance to deal some damage as you approach distant enemies. The most welcome part of Bayonetta’s control scheme comes from brilliant (and functional) dodging system. Not only is it possible and easy to identify moments to dodge, a perfect dodge results in a bonus “bullet-time” moment, called “Witch Time”, where you can move with additional speed compared to your enemies, inflicting incredible damage. The combo system is smart and allows for some incredible moments.
Combos are more helpful on the higher difficulties, but on the lower ones I found that button mashing tended to suffice. As you continue to battle, your combos and execution of dodges will build up a magic meter that eventually lets you perform “Torture Combos” or “Umbran Climaxes” – the former is essentially a finisher for standard fare enemies you battle, with the latter enables your most powerful attacks to be strung together back-to-back.
Another new addition to this sequel are some enhanced methods of movement. You can become a panther to run faster on land, either to escape or just cover ground, and the same goes for water, with the exception that you become some form of underwater dragon.
It’s hard to go any further without discussion the aesthetics and overall presentation of the game. To start, it’s a gorgeous visual feast. It runs in 1080p, and almost entirely runs at a fluid 60fps. The 60fps not only makes the game buttery smooth to watch, but also makes the impeccable controls that much better. Outside of the technical elements of the presentation, we come to the style of the game itself. Character models and level design are in a world of their own – they’re utterly fantastic and really add to the extreme style of gameplay present.
Unfortunately the game tends to extend it’s extreme into some occasionally unpleasant directions. The violence I’m completely fine with – I actually really loved all the finishing moves that ultimately end with a villains exploding into a huge mess of blood and gore. The sexualization of the characters, however, get’s a bit much. I have no problems with games that include sex and nudity, even games like GTA 5 that include it for shock value and to make a statement on culture, but Bayonetta includes it just, well because. As a lead character, Bayonetta is very shapely, and her entire power, and costumes, come from her hair, meaning any powerful attack removes her clothes to use her hair as a weapon. The game does a decent job of covering her up discreetly, but that doesn’t stop a few sequences in which there is nothing to hide. The camera angles for cutscenes also tend to end up on closeups of female characters…assets, and Bayonetta has a tendency to straddle anything she can.
The hyper-sexualization isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s something you probably should be aware of when going into the game. Also know that characters curse non-stop, and in very creative ways, which is actually pretty funny.
On a more positive note, picking up Bayonetta 2 is great value for your dollar. Beyond the core 10ish hour story mode, there is also a coop/battle mode, that is decently fun and a quick way to earn currency to buy new items and gear. The biggest bonus, however, comes from the inclusion of a reworked version of the original Bayonetta, now on Wii U. The game features the same 720p presentation, but now runs at 60fps, features some Nintendo-centric costumes to use, and loses all of the technical hiccups. Two games for the price of one? Hard to say no.
Bayonetta 2 hooked me, and didn’t let go. I finished the game on the normal difficulty in one sitting, and I’m not even a huge fan of these types of games. If you own and Wii U, you should seek this game out, as long as you can get past the extreme level of content. The gameplay is vicious and fun, and it’s another excellent title for Nintendo’s exclusive library. With this, Mario Kart 8, and the upcoming Super Smash Bros. and Captain Toad, you no longer have a reason to not own a Wii U.