If there was a game I never imagined would come to the Wii U, it would be a sequel to Bayonetta. I mean, the game’s hyper-sexualized protagonist really goes against Nintendo’s more family friendly approach to game design philosophy, but after saving Bayonetta 2 from the depths of the video game graveyard, Nintendo turned some heads.
Bayonetta 2 makes no attempts to hide what it is and that is a completely over the top, non-stop action game from masters of the genre, Platinum Games. The game starts with a prologue, but this isn’t a ‘set the scene’ style of prologue, oh no; this is fight hordes of demons/angels while summoning gargantuan beasts to aid you in battle and then fight a villain who has the exact same abilities as you in a duel of crazy proportions all in the first fifteen minutes of the game type of prologue.
The plotline is typical: god wants power to rule the three realms (Heaven, Hell and Earth) which you as Bayonetta, one of the few remaining Umbra Witches, must stop while also saving your fellow witch friend Jeanne from the depths of Hell. Although interesting, it’s not exactly original and it doesn’t really pick up until the last few chapters. Bayonetta 2 really is more about fighting enemies and looking good while doing it. The game rewards masterful use of Bayonetta 2’s vast combo system with bonus halos, the game’s currency, which more than pass a resemblance to the rings in Sonic games. The new Umbran Climax ability brings an added dimension to battles because, once activated, Bayonetta will be able to summon creatures while fighting for some visually impressive attacks that cover a wide area.
The controls are very precise, responsive and incredibly satisfying. Combos are easy to pull off, but for those who are intimidated by the amount of combos, there is an automatic mode that will do the harder moves for you. By far, the best mechanic in the game is Witch Time. Witch Time is activated by avoiding an attack at the very last moment. Once activated, everything slows down to a crawl, except Bayonetta, allowing you to deal some real damage. Also, the closer the attack to hitting you, the more Witch Time is awarded. There is also a touch screen control set-up, but it isn’t as exciting as the standard controls; it really boils down to watching an A.I.-controlled Bayonetta attack whatever you point at. It may be a good choice for a casual audience, but I can’t see a casual audience playing Bayonetta 2, which makes the feature feel a little redundant. It seems to be there for simply ticking a box that says this game has GamePad usage.
The game does have some elements which do not appeal to me. Firstly, the reliance on swear/curse words, particularly when they are coming from a character who looks like a twelve year old kid, feels out of place and lowers the quality of the writing. Secondly, on the sexualisation of Bayonetta: now I know she is supposed to be a sexy character, but do the cutscenes really need to have crotch and cleavage shots of a near naked Bayonetta? Her sex appeal is meant to empower her character, and it does, but when the camera ogles over her body, it feels somewhat immature.
The boss fights are easily the game’s strong point. Bosses are big; I mean big-as-a-city big. But the best boss fights are with the Last Lumen Sage, a character who has the same abilities as Bayonetta, including his own version of Witch Time as well as being able to summon his own beast that fight yours while you battle on the ground and in the air. These fights are a real spectacle and really show what the Wii U is capable of doing.
The world of Bayonetta 2 is visually stunning, with interesting locations such as a very European inspired city. Bayonetta 2 also has excellent art direction, particularly for Bayonetta’s enemies. The game runs super consistently at 60fps and even when fighting screen-filling bosses, Bayonetta 2 doesn’t slow down at all. The game has a bombastic orchestral soundtrack for the epic boss fights and J-pop for lesser moments. It also features an interesting cover of Moon River. Yes, Moon River, as in Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s Moon River.
Bayonetta 2 is an absolute must-have if you own a Wii U and like fast paced action games, even if you pass the chance to give it a try via the free demo available on the eShop. And although it is not essential to have played the original Bayonetta, I highly recommend it, as a lot of the cast of characters return from the first Bayonetta. Also, the first game is almost as incredible as the second game. Almost.
+ Superb combat mechanics – Gamepad touch screen controls feel bolted on
+ Loads of hidden extras – The game can be a little immature at times
+ Art direction is amazing
+ Amazing choreography for the cutscenes