WHO KNEW SKIMPILY DRESSED LIBRARIANS COULD KICK SO MUCH ASS!Let's get one thing straight, librarians are rarely sexy. There usually mature ladies dressed to high heavens in three layers of wool, and dressed in a horrid coloured skirt that goes right down to their ankles and probably sipping a nice cup of tea. They won't suddenly start attacking angelic creatures who appear in the non-fiction aisle, they won't suddenly generate huge monsters from the fabrics of their cloths and they probably wouldn't have two rather dashing guns attached to their feet. Yes, librarians are a rather boring bunch, but at least they have Bayonetta to thank for spicing up their dull and dusted bookworm image.
Bayonetta is the latest creation from the folks at PlatinumGames, or should I say the latest action packed wonder from Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya. In fact it's plainly obvious that Mr Kamiya saw the Devil May Cry franchise as a great inspiration for Bayonetta, from the great mix of over the top action to the story you struggle to make sense of. But unlike Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a more much beginner friendly experience, one that doesn't punish you for not knowing that one ridiculous combo when it to comes to it's superb combat mechanics. Lessons have been learnt, and the way Bayonetta slowing introduces it's button mashing combat is refreshing, especially if you've struggle to enjoy some of the most recent DMC games.
That's not to say it's simplistic, oh no. For Bayonetta features a deep amount of depth when it comes to kicking backsides in style, the overall control layout suits the method of play well, never getting in the way of a good combo or a stylish torture take down. More importantly it's actually fun, pulling off some of Bayonetta's more extravagant moves feels fantastic and look even better. I'm sure you've already seen some of these 'torture attacks' for yourself, but the fact that there often key to taking down some of the bigger bosses makes this feature an important one.
Reading this review, you may have noticed that I haven't really spoken of the story yet. There are two reasons why this it, reason one is the simple fact that actually explaining the story of Bayonetta would take all day, all you need to know is that many years ago two clans of witches fought against each other causing chaos throughout the world. The second reason is the most important, the simple fact that you really need to experience Bayonetta yourself to appreciate how insanely Japanese it actually is. Still, it's a story that grows on you as you near the final hours of the game.
At times, Bayonetta can be simply beautiful with a great variety in the places you visit throughout. Bayonetta herself is well detailed, allowing for her small characteristic traits to shine through. Performance can stutter in spots, especially some of the bigger boss battles but they are few and don't come anywhere near to spoiling the action to be had. Being as Japanese as it is, Bayonetta does suffer from some common flaws found within many Asian developed titles. Menus are serviceable but clumsy and the game will flood you with so much information on screen that it can make the overall appearance feel a little messy. Still, even these slight flaws aren't exactly uncommon in some of the best games released the past year.
One could rattle on endlessly about some of the most epic moments to be found within Bayonetta, there are some truly stunning set-pieces that even leave some of God of War's biggest battles in the shade. That alone is no easy feat, an achievement that the development team can be proud of. There are a few other areas of the game that I could have done without, at the end of each chapter you get to play a quick shooting game (angel attack) that allows you to earn cash for purchasing some of the games important items, but this little shooting range is dull and repetitive. The game also features small sections of book text found at different locations, allowing you to read some of Bayonetta's back story. These make little sense and end up being a unnecessary detractions, though you are not forced to read them.
A shop is also available for you to purchase new weapons, items and other treats. You'll have to suffer through a cut scene of shop owner Rodin making a witty remark or reference to a certain past Capcom game, and although you can skip these cut scenes there still a nuisance. You'll also have to play through multiple times to get access to some of the more unique weapons or treasures found in the shop. Purchasing items is done through halos, sort of like the halos obtained in classic Sonic games (Sega reference?). There is a great selection and for those looking for a game+ experience, you'll find a rather pleasant one in Bayonetta.
Bayonetta also sounds great, there is an odd mix of Japanese pop music to even some classic tunes known around the world. It works almost perfectly to the point that you can't wait for the action to kick in and you hear 'Fly Me To The Moon' start chiming. Who knew that song was so great to battle along to. The music can be a little everywhere, one minute you'll hear a beautiful orchestra performed song begin to play and the next an 8-bit styled remix takes over, while it still works it can feel a little overwhelming. But like everything else in Bayonetta, the sounds perfectly suit the overall direction being taken by the developers. It's extravagant and oh so wonderful. Same can be said for voice work, yes there is the occasional cheesy dialogue moment, but they end up melting into the overall presentation well. Both the English voices of Bayonetta and Cereza deserve larger mentions, Cereza simply because it's to damn cute.
Overall Bayonetta is an absolute treat to experience, it's flawed in many respects and it's over the top antics might not be for all. But a rich and deeply thought out combat system, a fantastic mix of characters that perfectly suit their larger then life surroundings and a story that ends up being more then just a reason to continue the action and it's many unforgettable set-pieces. Bayonetta is the sort of game that you'll return to in years to come, and easily the biggest game release so far this year. If this is what we can expect from the upcoming year, then gamers are in for a great year. All in all this is one chaotic ride you don't want to miss. Let's just hope we see more of Bayonetta in the future.
SCORE: 5 STARS OUT OF 5.
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