(http://www.sega.com/platinumgames/bayonetta/)  Rated Mature by ESRB.  Bayonetta warrants looking into, if not for anything else, a perfect score by the prestigious Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu is very rare. The team behind this title, Team Little Angels at Platinum Games, already had multiple masterpieces in the action genre. The director behind Bayonetta, Hideki Kamiya, improving upon his previous work on Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe, re-defines what stylish action is all about. Aside evolved action, the developers also designed a refreshing new main character. Instead of a belligerent or overly macho male-lead, Bayonetta, the title character, is an incredibly strong witch and a woman at heart.

(http://www.sega.com/platinumgames/bayonetta/)  Rated Mature by ESRB.   Bayonetta warrants looking into, if not for anything else, a perfect score by the prestigious Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu is very rare. The team behind this title, Team Little Angels at Platinum Games, already had multiple masterpieces in the action genre. The director behind Bayonetta, Hideki Kamiya, improving upon his previous work on Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe, re-defines what stylish action is all about. Aside evolved action, the developers also designed a refreshing new main character. Instead of a belligerent or overly macho male-lead, Bayonetta, the title character, is an incredibly strong witch and a woman at heart.

**WARNING** The following Video May Contain Content Inappropriate for Children**

 

Presentation:

After awakening from a long slumber in an alternative version of our world, Bayonetta is on a journey to locate a mysterious gem stone and her memory. Through her journey, she slaughters angels non-stop even though she can’t make out the exact reason. Like Bayonetta’s amnesia, the plot here has some confusing parts but it manages to clear most of them by the end. But none of that really matters in an action title, even more so when there’s an attractive and intriguing heroine. A lot of games have female characters with traditional male traits, such as aggressiveness, practicality, and ambition, but they just turn out to be guys in female skins. With Bayonetta, her femininity does not stop at her runway model legs or accentuated feminine assets. It goes on to her self-confident cross-legged stance, her magical butterflies, lips-shaped targeting mark, and kiss-blowing barrier breaker. It goes beyond visuals as well, as Bayonetta expresses her female sexuality in several instances in manner that would be downright repulsive if came from a male character. Beyonetta can also do all that slicing and dicing a man can do as she is no slouch when it comes down to handing out punishments. It only goes to show that female characters can be all that of a male character, and then some more.

 

Graphics:

Although it does not appear as crisp as its action genre cousin Devil May Cry 4, the world of Bayonetta is quite stunning and highly detailed. All the characters, enemies, and environment are incredibly decorated with minute details when viewed up close, the delicate ornament of the Cardinal Virtues and the Inferno Demons that mirror each other are especially impressive. A good part of the storytelling is shown in film strips with still 3D models in them, artistically showing different frames of actions and voiced dialogues.

During gameplay, the game switches seamlessly between playing and cutscenes as the cutscenes are not pre-rendered and therefore do not require extra loading. However, the camera isn’t as smooth from time to time due to the hectic action, even with all its adjustments in the options. There are also a few occasions where the frame rate drops slightly, but these minor imperfections are rather negligible as they do not distract the engaging combat.

         

Sounds:

Bayonetta has a large, unique, and refreshing soundtrack. There are sacred hymns to introduce the many witch-hating angels, then upbeat pop to accompany Bayonetta as she dances through them with guns blazing. There are some classy cool jazz, J-rock, and even classic arcade tracks when appropriate, too. But then most of the actions are done in the girly, dancey pop to complement Bayonetta’s butterfly glitters and kisses. Much like its female world, the female voices are also the better half of this title. Bayonetta’s sultry voice especially adds to her overt sexuality. While all of the voices are characteristic of their character, the female voices happen to be ones more likeable. Perhaps it’s by design, but some of the male characters come across a bit annoying because of how abnormal they ended up sounding. The sound effects are not to be dismissed even among the convincing voice work and extensive sound track. Aside from the standard bangs and booms, the sound effects cueing enemy attacks often save the player during the frantic action.

 

Gameplay:

The jewel of Mr. Kamiya’s work is the stylish combat system of his action titles, and Bayonetta is no different. Bayonetta can equip weapons with both her hands and her feet, and they do not need to be the same type of weapons. Although some of the weapons are limited to her hands or her feet, there are many different types of weapon to spice up the angel killing. However, the game is surprisingly easy to get into despite the complexity of potentially having a weapon per limb. The combo system is intuitive in that punches and kicks each correspond to a button, and varying chains of punches and kicks will make Bayonetta attack with different combos. Aside using weapons, Bayonetta has several more tricks up her sleeves, when taken literally those are actually her hair. Certain combos will have Bayonetta use Wicked Weave attack, summoning a giant fist or high-heel formed by her hair for a devastating hit. Her hair goes even further for the bosses, turning into Inferno Demons for a climax finisher. These are but a small part of the intricate combat mechanics Bayonetta has to offer, especially for action fans who seek to master the fighting system.

 

Unfortunately the game can be unjustly punitive at certain moments; some coming from multiple enemies simultaneously spamming wide area and/or homing attacks, while others stem from the unnecessary and unexpected quick time events that belong in God of War rather than an action centered title from Mr. Kamiya. Another minor nuisance is the location of the often-used dodge button, located below the equally often used target button on the same shoulder of the controller. Although it is possible to learn to play the game with both the index and middle finger, it would be much easier on the player to map one of the buttons to the other index finger.

 

Between fingers slipping and the instant kill quick time events, there are quite a bit of dying before one memorizes all the pitfalls. Not that most gamers enjoy dying, but the worst part about dying in Bayonetta is its retraction from the game with a lengthy continue screen and a long load time. It’s made even more apparent since other than going through the continue screen, the combat is almost constant and always addicting.

        

 

Innovation:

The best part about Bayonetta is that it doesn’t try to re-invent the action genre, but that it improves upon it by delivering more of what action fans look for. Before and after the continuous actions of a chapter, the game cleverly disguises its loading screen as a practice mode for some warm-ups. The combat is in-depth and intense, and the next fight is always just around the corner. While the lack of action-adventure styled puzzles is quite welcomed, the few instances of non-action gameplay sequences felt a bit too long although they were entertaining to begin with.

 

Longevity:

The first run through of the game amount to 10 hours or so. But aside for the obviously entertaining actions and the irresistible urge to master the game, there are plenty more reasons for replaying. Collecting broken witch hearts and broken moon pearls can increase Bayonetta’s vitality and magic reserve, respectively, which in turn decrease the chance of dying and the disruption from it. Extra weapons, accessories, and techniques can be bought using halos collected from playing, further opening up gameplay possibilities. In relation to the game universe, there are explanatory files scattered throughout the game, covering the details not explained by the main plot. For finishing the game, the player is treated to the Gallery, containing tons of the artistic talents and efforts behind the game.

 

Conclusion:

Brilliant but not perfect, there are plenty to love and to hate in Bayonetta. Fortunately the majority of the game is very enjoyable: the convincing characters, the many moments of genuinely funny interaction between them, the exceptional heroine that appeals to both men and women, and of course the extravagantly stylish action. Even better, the easy and very easy mode are there to include gamers of all skill levels, allowing those who are not typically action fans to enjoy all the flairs as well. On the flip side, it suffers from some minor flaws as mentioned before. Most notably is the lack of the ability to install the game on the PS3 console, which significantly reduces load time in many other recent titles.

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