Giant Bomb Review

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Bayonetta Review

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Much of the potential of Bayonetta--potential that's realized on the Xbox 360--is lost to technical issues on the PS3.

There are a lot of words that could be used to describe Bayonetta, the new action game from PlatinumGames, but the phrase I keep finding myself going back to is “fucking ridiculous.” Before you call the expletive unnecessary, consider the titular lead character. Bayonetta is a roughly 10-foot-tall amazonian librarian-slash-dominatrix with a posh, saucy English accent dressed in a skintight outfit made of her own hair. She spends most of her time luring angels out of heaven so she can murder them using her sexy stripper dance moves and her guns, two of which are attached to the back of her stiletto heels. Imagine Ulala with a mean streak in skintight black leather, and you're almost there. There's a permeating hypersexuality here that could be derided as being deeply misogynistic just as easily as it could be hailed as a beacon of post-feminist self-actualization, except that the absurdity in Bayonetta is so bone-deep that it doesn't really matter one way or another. What matters is that Bayonetta is an action game bursting at the seams with enthusiasm, a game that celebrates Japanese game conventions--with ample nods to both Sega's and Capcom's back-catalogs in particular--and then pushes them to their breaking point. Even if you don't like what it's doing, you kind of have to respect the way it does it.
 

 Bayonetta: The Real Bullet Witch. Also, The Real Roxanne.

The action in Bayonetta takes the baton from games like Devil May Cry. It then hurls that baton off a cliff, tears off all its clothes, and then jumps after the baton, laughing maniacally the entire time. Primarily using a punch and a kick button, with the occasional swirl of the analog stick for more advanced moves, you'll produce a nearly infinite string of consistently outlandish combos, the best of which turn Bayonetta's hair-suit into gigantic fists, feet, or monsters that reduce your enemies to red paste. These moves also temporarily remove strategic bits of Bayonetta's outfit, furthering the game's peculiar stripper theme. Your guns are good for ranged attacks and generally just add to the fun, much like the torturous finishing moves you can perform that manifest iron maidens and guillotines for you to punish your foes with. Also key to the experience is Witch Time, which activates automatically when you dodge an enemy's attack at the last possible moment, and momentarily slows everything else in the world to a crawl. Usually Witch Time just serves to give you the advantage in a fight, though you'll occasionally need it to progress past certain obstacles. There are also a few fights that take place entirely in Witch Time, which add another layer of slow-motion chaos to the already overwhelming action.
 
Despite how manic the fights can get, Bayonetta is surprisingly approachable, though don't take that as a euphemism for “easy.” As similar as it is to your Devil May Crys or your Ninja Gaidens, Bayonetta rewards good timing more than it does rote combo memorization, making it a less technically demanding experience without shorting you on the difficulty. It definitely scolds you for dying, putting a permanent mark on your record that has an adverse effect on your overall score, but it also gives you the tools to avoid it. You'll gain access to additional weapons like a katana and alternate guns as you progress, and you'll also collect halos (which look suspiciously like the kinds of rings Sonic the Hedgehog can't seem to get enough of) that you can spend on new moves and various lollipops that restore health, make you temporarily invincible, or give your attacks more punch. Yup, Bayonetta's health item is a lollipop. Deal with it. Additionally, each chapter wraps up with a weird little shooting gallery game where you can earn more items and halos. You'll also gather colored regents that you can combine into the same stuff that you find in the shop, though I found this stuff to be relatively rare, and the menu interface for the whole process is kind of confusing.
 
 It's a terrible screenshot, but trust me, this part is nuts.

The game breaks up the rhythms of group fights and multi-life-bar-bearing boss encounters with big, amped-up homages to Sega arcade classics like Hang-On and Space Harrier. They're both awesome sequences, some of the game's most memorable, but they're just the most obvious examples of Bayonetta's almost subconscious reverence for classic Japanese game culture. Mostly, though, Bayonetta keeps you on your toes by constantly pushing just how over-the-top everything about it is. You're just as likely to fight a freaky two-headed dragon while half-naked on the side of a church that's spinning through space as you are on terra firma. When that's your standard, it's possible for just about anything to happen, and in Bayonetta, it usually does.
 
Visually, Bayonetta is defined by a constant state of information overload. In the rare moments that the camera's not voyeuristically twirling around Bayonetta's suggestively gyrating figure as she smashes a cherub-faced angel-monster, you can actually appreciate the incredible detail on Bayonetta herself, the dizzying complexity of the intricately choreographed dance-fight sequences, the unsettling enemy designs that graft familiar angelic imagery and bits of Renaissance marble onto a menagerie of hideously meaty bird-creatures and golems. There's a lot of craft in Bayonetta's whole rococo steampunk aesthetic, but it's just as impressive that the game performs so well when it's awash in layer upon layer of crazy effects, while all of it moves at just below the speed of light. It can be a transcendental experience, if it doesn't give you a splitting headache.
 
There's a big, crazy, reality-threatening story in Bayonetta, but it's so inscrutable that it's really not worth trying to sum up here. That doesn't stop the game from spending an inordinate amount of time dwelling on prophecies, the agents of heaven and hell, forgotten identities, parallel planes of existence, misplaced revenge fantasies, and epoch-spanning conspiracies. I'd admonish Bayonetta for its lengthy, corny, dialog-heavy cutscenes, but it kind of emphasizes just how Japanese this game is. Plus, the oddly staged dialog scenes are consistently paired with some of the most outrageous cinematics I've seen in any game, the kinds of unbelievable moments that whip right past awesome on their way to hilarity. There are plenty of occasions where you'll have to quick-time your way through a cinematic, but often they're so intense that you'll be grateful when you can focus your energies on keeping up with just what in the holy hot hell is going on.
 
 Bayonetta is the rare game that can make you grin and grit your teeth at the same time.

Bayonetta even sounds crazy. Giant Bomb's own Jeff Gerstmann rather adroitly described Bayonetta's sound design as akin to being on the chaotic floor at the Tokyo Game Show--just a cacophony of battle cries, gunshots, and weapon clashes with a layer of Japanese vocal pop idol music, soaring orchestral chanting, and synthy sushi-bar jazz underneath. While the words they are saying are borderline gibberish, the voice work is actually pretty good, with Bayonetta in particular benefiting from the assertiveness of her speech.
 
Unfortunately, most of the kind words I have for Bayonetta are reserved for the Xbox 360 version, as the PlayStation 3 version suffers from crippling performance issues. Load times are bad, even popping up when you're simply cycling through options on your inventory menus, but what really kills it is the way the game stutters and chops through the action, dropping frames and bogging down at an almost constant rate. In another, significantly less intense game, it's something I might be able to let slide. But Bayonetta's gameplay, and even its cinematics, put such a premium on speed and precision that the experience on the PlayStation 3 is thoroughly compromised. Let me be totally clear here: if you have the option between the two consoles, consider the PlayStation 3 version to be nonexistent. If the PS3 is your only option, well, proceed with significant caution, or hitch your hopes on the notion that Sega might, someday, release a patch to address these issues.
 
For as many different games as Bayonetta specifically recalls, there's really nothing quite like it. It carries a certain amount of the same technical appeal as Devil May Cry, while marrying it with the deliberate quirk of something like No More Heroes. It's definitely going to be a divisive game for many, but whether you like it or not, I have a feeling that the developers made exactly the game they wanted to.
83 Comments
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Posted by rjayb89

Oh, two different reviews for one game.  This truly is the age of the future.

Posted by Chango

My only option is the ps3 version....so my hopes are that there will be a patch one day, regardless I'm getting this.

Posted by Enokei

Thank you Ryan for both reviews , it's refreshing to see 

Posted by WillyLo

This is quite disappointing, I play most of my stuff on the PS3, especially games like this cause it feels more comfortable in my hands. But this far into this generation it's pretty much inexcusable for something like this to happen. With Vigil games able to make Darksiders run so well on the PS3, as well as the 360, how can SEGA not be able to do that?

Posted by DanielJW

Yes I have to agree here, thank you for the second review. As a PS3 owner from what I've heard of the PS3 version I needed a seperate review for this :)

Posted by FunExplosions
@WillyLo said:

" This is quite disappointing, I play most of my stuff on the PS3, especially games like this cause it feels more comfortable in my hands. But this far into this generation it's pretty much inexcusable for something like this to happen. With Vigil games able to make Darksiders run so well on the PS3, as well as the 360, how can SEGA not be able to do that? "

 @WillyLo said:

SEGA

Posted by niall077

played a japanese inport a while back,   it sucks that sega messes this up. 
 
I always find the dualshock better for these sort of games  
 
also how did this pass Sony certification with a 6 second load times for the pause menu/?    did they just want it day and date with the 360 version so bad that they would release a borked product? 

Posted by Kou_Leifoh

First Virtua Fighter 5, now this. . .Fuck you, Sega.

Posted by AndrewB

This brings up a design point for the site: should there be multiple reviews attached to different systems, or should there be one review spot with separate scores for each platform? I guess this way makes sense, for the invariable super-multiplatform game available on the Xbox360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, N-Gage, Saturn, and Commodore 64.

Posted by HydraHam

This is why i get most third party titles on 360, they tend to not have these problems.

Posted by ZmillA
@rjayb89 said:
" Oh, two different reviews for one game.  This truly is the age of the future. "
same review, the games just got different scores
Posted by dhuff

Game looks awesome.  Sad to see it screwed like this.

Posted by RYNO9881

Too bad about the ps3; I was pretty interested in this game.

Posted by FCKSNAP
Posted by CounterShock

I didn't think the extent of sega's port job would validate a seperate review

Posted by MatthewMeadows

Thanks for doing two reviews Ryan. I was gonna get this based on the reception but most of the industry reviewed the 360 version so I wouldn't have known about these performance issues! I'll save my £40 for another game, unless it gets patched.

Posted by rt44tbtb4

Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge...

Posted by rt44tbtb4

Ps3 version is classified as a DLC add on under the reviews tab.

Posted by SilvarusLupus

The whole thing that bugs me with the port is the fact that the JP version was already in English and even defaulted to English. The JP version will work on the English system, so all SEGA had to do was just repackage the game for the North American Release. When I go off to college I'm leaving my PS3 at home but I'll probably get a 360 and re-buy this game. As for now, I'll just stick with the bad port. 
Platinum games should just ported it themselves.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles
@bassboy2100 said:
"Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "

I've only played it on the 360 myself, but I do have a friend who only has a PS3 so he really had no choice,  We did a dual tv side by side equal resoulution comparison and I can tell you that in my opinion the difference is drastic enough for seperate scores.
Posted by artofwar420

Come on patch it.

Posted by PopeAnonymousVII
@Chango said:
" My only option is the ps3 version....so my hopes are that there will be a patch one day, regardless I'm getting this. "
Don't worry, I'm half way through it, and it's awesome.  The only way you'll really notice the issues is if you play the 360 version extensively first or play both versions at the same time.  They are not game breaking, or even game altering flaws.  Most of the flaws are being blown entirely out of proportion.  As a game on the PS3, against other PS3 games, Bayonetta is awesome.  It runs and plays fine, the loading is pretty annoying, the rest isn't a big deal.  Purchase and enjoy.
Posted by doe3879

It's Sega
when was the last time you had seen Sega showing good support for the games they put out

Posted by JeffGoldblum
@bassboy2100 said:
" Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "
This is the first time Giantbomb has had separate reviews for different platforms. I doubt we will see it very often at all.
Posted by Brackynews
@ZmillA said:
" @rjayb89 said:
" Oh, two different reviews for one game.  This truly is the age of the future. "
same review, the games just got different scores "
QFT.
Posted by BenderUnit22

I hope they'll patch it eventually. The load times are a huge pain. Finding power ups shouldn't be a bummer, but pausing 2 seconds for an icon to pop up in the middle of combat is irritating.

Posted by dbz1995
@bassboy2100 said:
" Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "
I think that is the reason-Dragon Age is a spectacular game on any of the three consoles, just moreso on the PC.
Posted by Hamst3r
@bassboy2100 said:
" Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "
It's probably because the difference is between the console versions. It would be like if one console ran MW2 at 60 FPS but the other ran it at 30FPS - both acceptable framerates but one noticeably smoother than the other. It's commonly accepted that a PC version of a game will probably be superior in some way or another to the console versions and they've alluded to such an opinion in regards to numerous games. The most recent cases I can recall offhand are Dragon Age, Borderlands and The Force Unleashed Quick Looks. I guess they just don't feel it necessary to point out since it's kind of a given - if you've got the hardware you can run the game flawlessly at any settings you desire.
Edited by atomic_dumpling

The Dragon Age versions are different versions dedicated to their respective platforms, while Bayonetta technically should be the exact same experience on both consoles, but for whatever reason, it isn't.

Posted by Kohe321

Too bad with the technical problems on the Ps3. Lucky for me I have both the 360 and ps3 :)

Posted by abrasion

I really don't understand the PS3 complaints.
Well, let me re-phrase that - I saw NONE of these issues in the demo, perhaps they optomised the heck out of the demo, perhaps it's a PAL resolution thing (very unlikely)
I tried the demo from the Japanese PSN store if I recall (came out a week early?) and it was absoloutely flawless, that being said these guys know their stuff :/  it's surely a bit of a shame because my PS3 is my lead console, I only like buying exclusives on my 360.
 
Wonder what the odds of a patch are.

Posted by Hyperfludd
@abrasion: This is the issue. The demo preforms WAY better than the game. Infact, I'm sure if it had a install option the main issue (horrible, frequent loading times) would be solved in an instant.
Edited by Hamz

Solid review Ryan, solid. Pity to see that the PS3 version is clearly not that great.
 
Still cheers for the review :)

Posted by Cynical_Gamer

Gamers have to realize 360/PC will always be the lead platform for most multiplatform console games.

Posted by Rhombus_Of_Terror
@MAST said:
" Wonder if crappy ports will ever stop. Just this week, two different games got crappy port jobs, or at least didn't work right on one console or the other. The 360 version of Darksider (screen tearing, and texture issues), and now Bayonetta for the PS3 (framerate issues). If you can't get it right for both consoles, then just make it an exclusive and try to get it right on at least one system... "
It's the video game business. Designed to maximise profit over as many platforms as possible. 
 
Darksiders and Bayonetta have the problem of lacking the man hours and money to iron out problems before a deadline is met, which is why issues arise in some multiplatform games. The publisher wants a game to go multiplatform as a business decision and you enter a pandoras box of problems. Considering that, it looks like the decision was made a little to late for those games to go multiplatform.
 
@Cynical_Gamer said:
" Gamers have to realize 360/PC will always be the lead platform for most multiplatform console games. "
This is pretty much the truth right now. I don't have a 360, yet I understand its development point of view. The PlayStation 3 dev platform as many of you should be aware by now is more difficult to learn than the 360's. The problem will level out, but only for development companies that have enough money/man hours to do so. I've seen people on the forums argue what FF13 will be like on either console, the difference will none existent, Square Enix had the money and time to get it to work on both consoles as apposed to the Devs working on Darksiders and Bayonetta.
Edited by clush
@Ryan Davis said:

" You'll also gather colored regents that you can combine into the same stuff that you find in the shop"

I'd assume you meant reagents, but having read the rest of the review I'm not so sure... Anyway, well written review! I'll take my hat off to anyone who can use words like adroitly without it standing out too much or seeming horribly out of place.
Posted by Irishjohn

How incredibly disappointing that the PS3 version has these issues. I generally prefer to get 360 versions of games anyway, but I thought we were past this whole problem.   
 
This game looks so much better than I expected, but I just don't think the gameplay is for me. I never got into that DMC vibe.

Posted by ch13696
@bassboy2100 said:
" Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "
The reason is that because there's no graphical issues with the console ports. There's really only a control difference. However, GiantBomb did mention that Dragon Age should be played on the PC.
Posted by ch13696
@JeffGoldblum said:
" @bassboy2100 said:
" Anyone else find this kind of weird? No separate review for the PC vs console versions of Dragon Age, I know there are other games where there is a quality divide between platforms, I'm not sure it warrants an entirely different review. Seems like a slippery slope of having multiple reviews of lots of games in the future. Maybe this is just a rare exception because the gap is so huge... "
This is the first time Giantbomb has had separate reviews for different platforms. I doubt we will see it very often at all. "
They did it for Battlefield 1943 also.
Edited by Sanj

If this were any other site, two seperate scores like this would cause an uproar. So it's good to see that we all mostly agree with his review.
Posted by Nemesis

Idiots get Bayonetta for the PS3, when the 360 version is clearly superior.

Posted by TwoOneFive

this getting really REALLY fucking pathetic.  
 
Anyone with any game development knowledge whatsoever will tell you that the PS3 is a more powerful system that is more than capable of handling anything on 360 with ease.  
 
For multiplatform games to be released like this still to this day is fucking pathetic and the developers behind such games should be absolutely ashamed for allowing their product to be released in such a shitty fashion. 

Posted by SPACETURTLE

PlatinumGames cant handle the xtreme power of the ps3! 
Cool with two seperate reviews for the both console versions.

Posted by bitcloud
@MAST: Never had shoddy framerates in RE5 or AC1. Most games have gone PS3 lead platform by the way and you hardly get issues like this anymore. 
 
Typical 360 gamer response is, if it has technical problems on the 360, it's "not a good game to begin with".
Edited by Tactical_Kill

Nice review Ryan. Its a shame to hear about the problems of the PS3 version. Thanks for the seperate review score.

Posted by DiegoBitterman

" This brings up a design point for the site: should there be multiple reviews attached to different systems, or should there be one review spot with separate scores for each platform? I guess this way makes sense, for the invariable super-multiplatform game available on the Xbox360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, N-Gage, Saturn, and Commodore 64."
 
I think that there should be neither. It would be very difficult for the team to write multiple reviews for one game(and/or score for different consoles entirely)  so I think whats happening here is that they are making an exception for multi platform games on the 360 and ps3 that have a startling performance differences. You see in any other case its just a few lines worth of mention but obviously it was so significant here that they had to drop the score a whole level to emphsise the performance drop on the ps3.

Posted by Scotto
@bitcloud said:
" @MAST: Never had shoddy framerates in RE5 or AC1. Most games have gone PS3 lead platform by the way and you hardly get issues like this anymore.  Typical 360 gamer response is, if it has technical problems on the 360, it's "not a good game to begin with". "
Well played, fanboy!
 
- Scott
Posted by nuness1988

Man, what a bummer on the PS3.  I really hope Sega fixes this (though I'd bet big on them saying "Fuck you" to ps3 owners) otherwise I'm not buying it.  I own a 360 but it's become a secondary console for me partly because my controller doesn't work great, and partly because I don't want to keep paying for xbox live.

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