Bayonetta has always been a controversial franchise. Whenever sex is a big part of a game, you can be sure to expect a barrage of angry people complaining that a beloved form of media has been tainted by such an unsavory concept. Bayonetta 2, however, shows those same people that being controversial does not mean being bad. Nintendo has taken Platinum Games’ steamy IP firmly under its wing and shrouded it from the family friendly Nintendo affairs you may have become accustomed to over the years. All the while making it incredibly clear that mature and hardcore titles have a real place on a Nintendo console.
From the get go, Bayonetta 2 screeches class and prowess. Even the menus within the game have a certain artistry about them, everything is so neatly laid out that cycling through them is seamless and smooth experience. If you played the demo released on the Nintendo eShop, then it will be immediately clear whether the game is for you from the small amount you play through. The stage played shows you a bare bones taster of what Bayonetta 2 has to offer, but trust me when I say that there is so, so much more. If you played the demo and thought you saw everything, then you were wrong.
Bayonetta may be out to save her Umbran sister, but the story takes many more twists and turns than you could ever consider. The story in Bayonetta 2 is as enticing and breathtaking as you would expect, forever pulling you in and holding you in place throughout. The narrative is told through both comic-style strips complete with audio work, and in-game engine scenes. Bayonetta 2 is as insane as you hoped it would be and more. Bayonetta and her huge cast of sub-characters do an incredible job of making the world as believable as a world focused on heaven, hell and beyond can possibly be. Lackluster voice acting is the only area in which the game occasionally drops in quality, but at the same time, crummy voice acting only serves to add to Bayonetta 2‘s charm.
Vocal work may need some improvement, but in terms of overall sound, Bayonetta 2 sounds absolutely wonderful. Outside of the brilliant sounds of the many in-game weapon sets, Bayo 2’s background music is a joy to listen to. The English J-pop song never seems to outstay its welcome, and always kickstarts exciting moments in the game. When the J-pop is taking a rest however, expect wonderful orchestral melodies that make Bayonetta 2 stand out with other games capable of such awe-inspiring audio quality.
Two characters which do have a clear connection and vocals which work fantastically are the Umbran sisters and Bayonetta 2 stars, Cereza (Bayonetta) and Jeanne. Both characters play off of each other so well, that seeing them working together becomes something to look forward to, especially after the awesome introduction to the two. For those who played the first, you may recall a certain rivalry between the Bayonetta and Jeanne. In Bayonetta 2 however, rivalry is replaced by a strong bond that, as a player, I strongly felt. Locking down this feeling was important to the story, and so it was great to see that it worked out great.
Bayonetta is as cocky and smutty as she has always been, but she never actually goes beyond words or a few sexy moves. Her moves are fast, frantic and full of style. With the ability to toggle between two weapon sets, the combo possibilities are near endless. What this then means is that by constantly changing weapons, finding a combination that suits ones playstyle ends up being a relatively simple experience. Fighting various angels and demons can result in the screen being clustered with colors and awesome particle effects, all of which look absolutely amazing. From a technical standpoint, the framerate always aims for a strict 60FPS but occasionally it can drop, though for the most part action is smooth throughout and near enough as you would anticipate it to be. Slight drops in framerate, however, are in no way near to detract from the graphics Bayonetta 2 has. Do not go thinking that Wii U automatically equates to rubbish graphical quality, because Bayonetta 2 looks stunning from start to finish.
Speaking of the Wii U, since Bayonetta 2 is a Nintendo exclusive, Platinum Games has included some great little extras to please fans of the Nintendo franchise and the Wii U itself. As a completely optional choice, the game can be played (mostly) in its entirety using the gamepad. The option to use the pad is nice, though not exactly something of a permanent solution. Movement is controlled by dragging the stylus over the screen and jumping is done by tapping. The same goes for attacking enemies and other moves. To show off the power of the Gamepad, this is a pretty nifty idea, but overall, the option to use it to play the game is nothing short of a gimmick. Nevertheless, it is an appreciated one.
If the Gamepad does not strike your fancy, then Platinum has also added some great in-game content. The option to purchase costumes based on characters from several Nintendo franchises is available, and they each have different traits outside of cosmetic appeal. For the sake of the review, I purchased a Nintendo costume based on Princess Daisy from the Mario franchise. Besides being able to summon Bowser to her aid, Halos (Bayonetta 2‘s currency) are shown as coins from the Mario universe, even incorporating the iconic coin sounds. There are several costumes, each with tons of changes to the gameplay, but it is best to explore them for yourself through play. Lots of play in Bayonetta 2 can result in lots of Halos, which in turn will result in lots of goodies. Simply put, putting the time into Bayonetta 2 will mean one very powerful Umbran witch.
The store in Bayonetta 2, also known as the Gates of Hell, will be somewhere you spend a lot of time. The store is complete with accessories which strengthen Bayonett, techniques which improve her skills, and items which can give temporary boosts to stats. Killing enemies may grant spends, but these wonders of hell will not be exactly low-budget. Throughout my play, I racked up roughly around 12 hours of gameplay which flew by. For completionists though, that time could easily be doubled, perhaps even tripled. There is one hell of a lot of content in Bayonetta 2, and if value was a worry then put that worry to rest. Save up 99999 Halos, and you can purchase a platinum ticket which will unlock one very special prize.
Bayonetta 2 was also one of the first games in the genre that I did not horde the potions I crafted and purchased. I played on the medium difficulty of 2nd Climax, and the game felt fair. It was also, however, the first title ever where I was not left with an abundance of potions at the end that I ‘needed to save’. Bayonetta 2 can be a really difficult game, and if your reactions are not sharp then expect to struggle. Hand eye coordination is also a skill that Bayonetta 2 demands you master. With consistent play, however, you can go from a stone award to a platinum award in just a few chapters. Once the gameplay is nailed down, dodging at the right moment and pulling off the perfect combo will become second nature to even the slowest of learners.
When a chapter is finished, the final score is accumulated which then shows you how brilliant or how damn terrible you were on that stage. The aforementioned stone award is pretty much the worst award you can gain, whereas pure platinum is what every would-be skilled slasher should aim for. I managed to achieve mostly gold awards in each of my chapters, which considering my skill compared to that of others, I found pretty impressive. I was able to compare myself to others since Bayonetta 2 takes a huge glamorous step into the realms of online, and the whole thing plays out fabulously.
Tag Climax allows players to compete online for supremacy across several verses as one of several unlockable characters. The mode might sound like an unnecessary add-on, but I found myself to be pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer. It also showed me that I was no way near as good as I thought I looked during the main campaign. Players are able to bet and gain Halos in this mode, which then transfer to the main game. Gaining these Halos is no simple task however, so being able to slay the enemy is kind of essential to doing well across stages.
Bayonetta 2 is such a complete game that playing through it becomes a truly addicting experience. I always found myself saving up for something expensive, and I likely will for a long time. That sweet move will not unlock itself, so spending time grinding for Halos will always feel worth it. On the topic of things being worth it, Bayonetta 2 also features a challenge type arena which is not entirely separate to the main campaign. Muspelheim challenges are portals which Bayonetta can enter and then complete a certain task which then affects the final score and unlocks a worthwhile collectible. These portals are completely optional to jump through, though I would highly recommend completing the challenge set. Of all the Muspelheim portals I managed to find, I completed each challenge after a bit of hair pulling frustration passed. Challenges can range from killing all enemies in a given time, to killing all enemies without touching the ground. There are many Muspelheim challenges, and all of them are worth the mental torture.
Bayonetta 2 will test you in many ways. It is a constant bombardment of berserk action and every moment will be a memorable one. Locations are varied, battle sequences are epic and gameplay is timeless. If you have even the slightest interest in fast paced slashers, then Bayonetta 2 should be thrown right to the top of your next game to buy pile. To cast Bayonetta 2 out would be a very foolish move indeed, because Bayonetta 2 has every right to fight for 2014’s game of the year.
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