Review: Bayonetta 2 (Nintendo Wii U)
- Release Date (NA): October 24, 2014
- Release Date (EU): October 24, 2014
- Release Date (JP): September 20, 2014
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Platinum Games
- Genres: Action
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Eighteen years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Bayonetta 2 is what I would like to call that boss-fight the game. But don’t you worry, that doesn’t make it a bad thing in the slightest. From the instant I booted up Bayonetta 2, I was thrust right into the most action packed, chaotic, and downright gorgeous gameplay I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing since its predecessor. Bayonetta makes combo stringing and explosive climax battles more entertaining than I could have ever imagined. So since we are on the subject, let’s move right into the combat aspect of the game and talk about what makes it so precise and addicting.
Combat and Game Elements
To start off, combat is mapped to your 4 main buttons, A, B, X, and Y. All of these buttons and their use are explained to you in a simple little training mode in between the prologue and the first chapter, which I honestly spent a good half hour in (particularly to test out the numerous combos the game allows you to perform).
A is your light melee, and X is your heavy melee. B is your jump command, and Y is for shooting the 4 guns that Bayonetta has strapped to her limbs. While they’re simple on their own, it’s the stringing together of these buttons that make’s Bayonetta such a chaotic and energetic game. Within the simple training exercise are over 100 different possibilities of attacks you can perform with different combinations of your light and heavy attacks, mixed with aerial attacks, and gun attacks.
You can fine tune all of your experience with these combos here in the training, or you can immediately jump into the hordes of enemies after and try them out for yourself. What I loved most about the combo system is that you don’t have to have the whole list memorized in order to win the game (though it may help you in the higher difficulty modes). The combo list is there to add variety and flair to what could have easily been a mash A to win game.
But mastering combos isn’t the only skill you’re going to need to make your way through Bayonetta 2. You can perform dodges with the trigger buttons (or a simple swipe of the touchscreen if you are using the game pad) which will serve to keep you out of danger, and keep your combo string growing. Dodging won’t just serve to save your butt. Performing a dodge at the last possible second will allow you to activate Witch Time, an ability that slows down time, and your enemies. This allows you to hammer into your enemies before they can even react, and will add substantial bonuses to your overall score. The greatest thing about these dodges is that they can be performed even if you are in the middle of a combo string of attacks, allowing you to dodge in the nick of time to avoid taking damage, and then pick right back up where you left off.
As if all these attacks weren’t enough in terms of variety, there are a plethora of weapons that you can obtain while progressing through the story, both dropped from enemies, and unlockable for use at any time. Every weapon adds its own combo list to the stack of lists you already had, and all of them have their advantages and disadvantages for you to experiment with.
You’re probably staring at your stack of combos wide eyed, and thinking, “There can’t be more right?” If you were, grab another notebook, because we haven’t talked about tortures, or Umbran Climax yet.
As your combos rack up points for you, they also add energy to the Umbran bar in the top left corner of your screen. As it begins to fill, you can perform actions like Torture Attacks, allowing you to go into a brief in game animation of you punishing one of your enemies for maximum points with a brutal execution.
The greatest part is Umbran Climax. Once your Umbran gauge fills up to completion, you can execute enormous attacks on your enemies using Bayonetta’s hair. That’s right, her hair will form demonically huge fists and legs to pound the endless mobs (or gigantic foe) into a bleeding purple pulp.
You can also utilize the transformations that are typically used for traversing the levels (such as Bayonetta’s panther transformation for faster land movement, or her serpent form for water traversal.) in combat to close the gap between you and far away enemies, and keep your speed going.
Musically, Bayonetta 2 has one of the most addicting soundtracks I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Every battle has its own unique song that amps you up for the battle as you’re hacking and slashing away. Trumpet filled, saxophone billowing, finger snapping Jazz is the main theme of all of the game’s music, and it fits oh so perfect. I couldn’t tell you how many times I got goose bumps listening to the piano riffs slide down the keyboard as I beat the living daylights out of a huge enemy. I mostly played through the game with headphones plugged into the game-pads audio jack. While I was lightly disappointed with the sound quality the game-pad outputs, I still felt more immersed having all of the game’s music in ear as I played.
I’ve briefly overviewed what I think about Bayonetta’s visuals, but I have got to say, my breath is taken away by how gorgeous everything is. The game runs nearly everything at a solid 60FPS, with only slight dips during heavy combat scenarios that you cannot even really tell are there. The games vibrant colors and colossal over worlds, bring so much immersion into the overall experience.
Other Gameplay Aspects
Although I’m making this all sound easy, enemies aren’t to be underestimated in this game. There are quite a few different enemy types, from small flying types, to the enormous bosses that spawn with them. All of these enemy types will require various attack methods, and prioritizing some over others will be key in maintaining survival.
While the attacks can start to get repetitive over time, it’s the introduction of every unique boss-type that continues to keep the game flowing and exciting. Every boss-fight was special from its character design, down to the attacks it used.
I also loved how every encounter was rated based on damage dealt and damage taken. When you finish an encounter with enemies, you are given an award based on how you fought whatever it was you were fighting, if you used any in game items, of you had to continue from a game over, and so on. From prestigious platinum awards, to crummy stone awards, I felt myself wanting to re-challenge encounters over and over just to get a higher score, and reward.
The incentive isn’t only bragging rights though, scoring higher will earn you currency for use on in-game items that can help you out in the long run, such as healing items and techniques. It also allows you to purchase cosmetic accessories and costumes to provide an even more unique experience for you. (I played mostly as Foxy-Netta, no judging please!) The numerous Nintendo shout-outs this game makes are absolutely astounding, and made the game even more entertaining with silly little Easter eggs like the one pictured above.
Diving a little deeper into other aspects of the game, I tried to take on the touch screen controls the game-pad offered early on in the main story. As I stated earlier, you can perform dodges by quickly swiping on the touch screen, and you can target enemies by quickly tapping them, or swiping towards them. Unfortunately, this only really served to remove me from the immersion of the combat, and I found myself losing reaction time and precision when I attempted to go from a quick swipe of the touch screen to mashing some combos in.
It’s much simpler to just pull the right trigger for a quick dodge, rather than hastily swipe a finger across the screen and then move your hand back to the controls to keep attacks going. It also doesn’t help that the amount of enemies on screen, make touch enemy targeting a very shaky experience. The camera has trouble keeping up with the constant taps and targeting, and will only really serve to make you dizzy and confused. The touch controls are a neat iteration that work well in smaller encounters, but lose their use when things really kick off in game.
As far as other game modes go, I played around with, and was pleasantly surprised by the online mode of the game. The Online mode is a scenario based co-op mode that lets you take on smaller missions of the main campaign with a friend, or with a random. While these battles typically only last a couple of minutes at a time, they are a nice side activity to jump into with friends that are far away, or to compete against your random online co-op partner for a higher score.
There are also incredibly difficult “challenge” rooms that allow you to take on various encounters with special restrictions, such as completing the encounter without taking a single hit, or only being able to deal damage during Witch Time. These challenge rooms are great to mix things up if you feel normal encounters are getting too easy, but don’t want to try ramping up the difficulty mode of the game (which you can change at any time in game.) I found myself playing most of Bayonetta 2 on the average difficulty (second climax), finding hard mode a little too challenging for me. But I really enjoyed the fact that the game was able to throw difficulty at me without being cheap about it. Everything is based on your skill and execution, which really proves how well done the gameplay is.
Bayonetta’s story is still something I have very mixed feelings about. The sex appeal of Bayonetta didn’t take me out of the game, but rather the ridiculously silly and sometimes downright cringe worthy comedy and plot elements.
Unfortunately I am very limited in what plot elements I am allowed to talk about, but the basic concept of the story revolves around Bayonetta rescuing the soul of her good friend Jeanne, after it was stolen from her. Bayonetta is a game about fast paced action, but its horrendously long cut scenes only served to make me want to get up, grab a drink, make a bowl of 10 minute ready-to-eat macaroni, and sit down to only be halfway through the cut scene. While they’re beautiful and certainly full of their own bursts of action, I found it difficult to focus my attention on them other than to find out where I was being taken too next. It was even more jarring when I was suddenly watching comic frozen cut scenes with no movement or animation, but rather just some simple voice overs over static images. The game had remained so fluid and wonderfully paced up until these completely random points in time. The characters themselves all seem rather forced and dry compared to the ever flamboyant Bayonetta. The cast of the original game keeps to their comedic and somewhat groan worthy personalities, and the newly introduced characters only add to that formula.
The story’s formula may be jarring and downright corny, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still passable for Bayonetta. With all of the action and explosions happening constantly, the story only serves to keep the action rolling, and it still manages to do just that. Bayonetta 2 is a game that doesn’t even take itself seriously, and takes sexy to a whole new level. While some complain that Bayonetta’s sex appeal only serves to throw off the charisma of the game, or pander to the crowd with fan service, I found her character to be exactly as her developer intended. A woman who uses sex appeal as empowerment, and an all-around bad ass at everything she did.
+ Intuitive and complex game play for lots of variety
+ Loads of unlockable and bonus content
+ Gorgeous visuals and music
- Medicore story
Bayonetta 2 is an explosion of action, sex appeal, and comedy. It knows exactly what it is, and flaunts it for everyone to see. It appeals to the people that just want to pick up and play, and to those with a taste for a challenge.
I have a hard time giving out perfect 10's for anything really, but I couldn't find a single thing I disliked about the game play elements of Bayonetta 2. Everything is tight, responsive, fluid, and just plain perfect. I could gush about the combat for hours but frankly, it all speaks for itself. It absolutely deserves a 10.
Bayonetta 2's story did little to grab me, but the ranking system of its campaign missions and battles, and the loads of purchasable content with in game currency, make Bayonetta hold onto its audience for a decent amount of time. Not to mention the online co-op game modes, and challenge rooms that exist across the world, add to the variety of things to do post game to keep you busy.
out of 10
(not an average)
Bayonetta 2 was a pleasant surprise for me as a Wii U gamer going through a bit of a drought. It sucked me into a realm of beautifully crafted battles, enormous personality, and just plain sexy character design. Bayonetta 2 was charming, and just a little bit naughty. It is an absolute must have for the Wii U, and I would dare say it is one of the top Wii U titles available for the platform.