It really bugs me when a game gets a ton of hype, and after countless delays and all kinds of other shenanigans it finally comes out only to suck copius amounts of arse. I must admit, the first trailer of Bayonetta I ever saw had my jaw on the floor. The clock-tower cutscene was done so well, and the Devil May Cry-stlye was clearly apparent. It also really bugs me when a great game really doesn't get any hype at all and then basically goes under the radar and into bargain bins in your local game store. Such was the case with many of my favorite games to date like The Darkness, and more pertinent to this review, Devil May Cry 4.
I really don't know why Devil May Cry 4 got thrown under the bus by so many gamers and reviewers? I happened to think it's one of the best games from an art and design standpoint. So many games release today and feature little to no cutscenes to speak of. You know it well. The formula that seems to be most commonly used nowadays is to make an incredible CGI cutscene at the very start of the game and then fill the rest of the game with poorly animated in-engine cutscenes, maybe to give you one more after beating the game. This definitely was not the case in Devil May Cry 4. The games cutscenes were some of the most badass material that has ever graced my 360's disc drive. Just Youtube some of the videos and I am sure you will agree. The reason I bring this up is simple: Bayonetta is a Devil May Cry game through and through. Everything is identical for the most part with some extra bells and whistles. But lets be real, we are talking about the game that got perfect or near-perfect scores from acclaimed magazines and reviewers all over the planet. It should have the same breathtaking cinematic style right? NOPE. Although there was a few great cutscenes, the rest of the game is filled with still, comic book style images. Whether it's the way the designers intended it to be, or it was simply rushed, it's a little dissapointing when you consider the hype factor, and the 2 games I just compared to each other.
While the lack of awesome cinematics is dissapointing, Bayonetta is still an amazing experience. A sexy Sarah Palin look-a-like with friggin' guns attached to her high heels, what could be better?
The game carries over the same combat from Devil May Cry titles, gunplay is inaffective against most enemies, but still fun to use and still feels fresh in a hack and slash. The combo system is deep with punches and kicks being mixed in frequently. The game really gets fun as you start to gather new weapons. Weapons can be equipped to your feet or your hands, thus deepening the already complex combo system. My particular favorite was the Durgas. A set of claws that could be equipped to the hands and feet. With a full circle of the analog stick and a press of a the corresponing kick or punch buttons, turns the claws from fire to electricity individually. Want to have feet claws on fire and hand claws electric? You can! Don't like the claws on your hands, and you'd rather rock a Samurai sword? You can do that to! With all the weapon types and possible combinations you can see how deep the combo system can get, especially when you can swap between combinations during the combos in real-time.
All of these weapons also have a charged attack mode on top of the vast arsenal of combos and button mash attacks. Whats impressive is how clean the combat feels. The hit detection and camera work well to highlight every last punch, kick or slash in a way thats very satisfying. If you have played the demo, the same interesting loading screen where you can practice your combos carries over to the full version. Its a wonderful change to sitting thru a dull loading screen that I am sure many designers and developers will surely knock off in the future. The game was average length for a game of its type, and for the most part was pretty captivating.
Another direct comparison I cannot overlook is the design of some of the bosses. While the creatures and creations in Bayonetta are certainly not dull, I still feel like most if not all of the bosses in Devil May Cry were so much cooler and thoughtful. The "witch-time" mechanic in the game is really cool. It basically allows you to dodge incoming attacks in Matrix-style slo-mo fashion. It's implemented well, and feels very fresh.
The story is pretty confusing for the most part, but plays off of the standards and rules of the Devil May Cry universe. The roles of angels and demons are swapped, and Bayonetta is basically awakening after a 500 year sleep with a case of amnesia, but still some memories and thoughts of her past. Throughout the story Bayonetta will suck on lollipops, whoop some ass and slowly gather pieces of the puzzle that is her past. This past basically consists of two rival Witch-Clans, Dark and Light, battling for control of a jewel. Throughout this journey a sort of rebel or rival witch from Bayo's past seems to be tracking her every move with revenge on her mind, but for what? I never really understood aside from they had beef in the ol' days, but it never goes deeper into this beef or any of the lore really. Thats the basic jist of it with some sexy poses and crotch rubs in between for good measures, or is it pleasure?
Thats the strange thing about this game. The sex appeal in the game was a little off-putting and perverted for me. Throughout the game, Bayonetta will use her hair, (which is actually her oufit) to summon and manifest some crazy creatures. Whether its a giant dragon, a giant four-eyed bird, a bunch of spiders or a giant crab-like creature, they are impressive and just seem to get more ridiculously awesome as the game progresses. One transformation in particular that I thought was pretty awesome was during a boss fight in which the boss was basically a giant globe-like sphere. Once it's energy was down, Bayonetta summons 5-7 giant arms in the sky, which begin to play volleyball with the boss. when the ball is dropped, the arms become angry and basically pound the shit out of the ball. Blood and guts fly, and good times are had by all. Just a little example of how over the top the game is at times.
What becomes a little awkward is when summoning these creatures, Bayonetta will rub her crotch in a sensual way. Cutscenes also present awkward butt-grabs and poses/positions that just left me a little stumped as to what was going through the developers heads. It's not a huge deal but I couldn't let it go unnoticed.
Same kind of sould/gem/orb gathering as you are used to here in the form of "halos" but difference in Bayonetta is everything cost a lot. I strongly reccomend using the glitch in the train station to collect as many halos as you have patience for at the start of the game. It will make it more enjoyable the first playthrough.
The presentation of this game is solid for the most part, but it does have some negatives that really make a big deal. To start with, the aforementioned "witch-time" becomes tarnished as you move further along into the game. It becomes too difficult to decipher what is, and what is not an attack, thus defeating the purpose and effectiveness without some trial and error. On the note of trial and error, at times the game can be a little unforgiving. "Grinding" as some call it becomes mainplace in the latter half of the game. You will get frustrated as checkpoints are filled with mini-bosses and the like. There is also some new avenues of action that Bayonetta tries to implement that for the most part could have been left out in my opinion. Such weird affairs include boss battles in the ocean where you ride a door like a snowboard, riding a missle type rocket or riding a motorcycle up the freeway at about mach 9. They all feel thrown in at the last second, and poorly executed. Overall I was also a little dissapointed at the lack of variety of enemies as well, including the bosses and mini bosses.
Refill's on magic, shield and energy are handled in the form of lollipops, and while crushing things like benches and cars to collect halos you will also collect material coresponding to color of each lollipops (Green, Yellow, Red). These materials can be concocted in a menu that will downright give you a headache for no reason at all. It's completely unneccessary and frustrated me the whole damn game. You visit a store in the form of "The Gates of Hell" to purchase new tecniques and weapons from a Mike Tyson looking dude, that is supposedly the devil. It's weird and takes way too long. There is a lot of things like outfits and accesories you can equip and use, but the game's use of weird metaphors to describe everything never really lets you know what the hell some of the stuff does. It feels like certain things were lost in the culture translation.
For the most part Bayonetta was enjoyable and kept me coming back for more, although once I was done, not only did I feel the need to rub one out, (I kid! I kid!) but I didn't really wanna dive back in for more, which surprised me. It's definitely a must for any fan of the genre, and Ninja Gaiden and God of War freaks will definetely get their fill from this one. The game's artsy and flashy style is what really makes this title shine in the end, even if the subject matter is a little weird or new. There was a little more screen tearing then I wanted to see, although I didn't have problems whatsoever with the camera like a lot of other reviews I read prior to playing. There is a lot going on at times during this game! Sit back and get ready, some of the stages and platforming are pretty wild.
Did you play Bayonetta? Let us know what you think in the comment section!
*Stay tuned for a review of Darksiders*
Thursday, February 4, 2010
THE GAMER REPORT REVIEW: BAYONETTA
Bayonetta|Devil May Cry 4|Platinum Games|PS3|Sega|Xbox 360|
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