There has been no other game series in recent memory that has caused as much of a shit storm by changing platform as Bayonetta. As soon as the second entry in the series was revealed by Nintendo to be a WiiU exclusive the internet exploded, as it often does, into a giant cloud of confusion, jubilation and rage. The fans, well I say fans, these were more like toddlers that couldn’t quite get their heads around the fact that you can’t always get exactly what you wanted and have to make do and threw a massive tantrum. Bombarding the games creator’s with wave after wave of hate-filled vitriol and even a couple of death threats for good measure.
The proper fans on the other hand were happy the game was being made at all, thanked Nintendo for having the gumption to pick it up, started to consider what such a partnership might entail, and weighed up whether this game was worth buying a WiiU for?
Well I can finally give you all a few answers on the subject. Last week I finally got some hands on time with Bayonetta 2 at Eurogamer on the demo that has been doing the rounds since this year’s E3.
You know, the one with Bayonetta fighting angels on a jet plane, that then gets destroyed, and so she jumps onto a speeding train to fight a really big angel and some more centaur type angels, then ends with a boss fight against a ruddy great demon called Gomorrah.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s some relatively inoffensive off-screen footage of said demo from its first showing at E3, courtesy of Games Radar.
After finishing the demo I was asked by the attendant what I thought of it, and as eloquent as I often am, I just turned to her and said “fucking hell”.
It pretty succinctly summed up what I was feeling at that time. I was knocked back by what I had just played, It’s one of those games that you can’t really appreciate fully until you’ve experienced it for yourself. It’s absolutely flawless.
It looks amazing, Rendered in native 1080p, the enemies you encounter are huge and as intricately detailed as they were in the original Bayonetta, but they feel meatier and oddly enough, brighter, exuding a light befitting their angelic nature, likewise when the demon, Gomorrah turned up, the game world was plunged into darkness.
Gomorrah in was particularly impressive, he’s huge: an intimidating mass of claws and teeth. Watching him clambering up the side of a skyscraper sending glasss and sparks flying everywhere was a sight to behold.
The original Bayonetta had some incredible character design but the backgrounds often felt a little overshadowed by the larger than life characters that inhabited them. They were merely a functional window dressing for the over the top action that was taking place. However, the backgrounds in Bayonetta 2 were lovely; towering skyscrapers, a glistening ocean and a huge railway bridge that went on for miles. The quality of the setting gave the action a sense of place that was at times missing from the original and gave the over the top action an air of believability admist the usual sensory overlord that Platinum games have become famous for.
It also runs at a silky smooth 60fps. When I say smooth, I mean it; it’s the gaming equivalent of caramel. There was absolutely no slow down whatsoever. Made all the more impressive by the incredibly hectic pace of the demo; It started at breakneck speed and just got faster
It was utterly relentless and technically impressive but the thing that sat with me most after playing was just how tight the gameplay was. Before playing I was a little apprehensive as to how well the WiiU’s bulky pad would cope with such a hectic game, turns out my worries were completely unfounded as the gamepad was incredibly responsive despite its heft, and the way your fingers naturally rest on the back triggers made dodging and blocking an absolute breeze.
The combat itself is spot on. Enemies feel weightier and attacks connect with a satisfying thump, ducking and diving has a proper real world logic to it and everything connected just as it should do. Giving skirmishes a suitably balletic quality.
The game’s new punishment moves are still just as gruesome and elicit the same sense of devilish glee that they did in the original and include; Kicking enemies into a treadmill attached to a grinder, and smacking them about before shoving them in a huge guillotine and executing them.
Though the biggest addition to combat is Umbra Mode that activates once your runes gauge has filled up, enabling Bayonetta to unleash incredibly powerful attacks that extend much further than her usual punches and kicks.
I also got to try out one of Bayonetta 2’s new weapons – A pair of katana, think Leonardo from TMNT and you can’t go far wrong, these were much quicker than the sword from the original and less accurate. but still capable of doing a lot of damage especially when umbra mode was activated.
In short, it looks like Platinum are on track to out do the original Bayonetta in every conceivable way, which is quite a feat considering it is known as one of the greatest hack ‘n’ slash games ever made.
You’ll also be happy to hear that the addition of Nintendo to the mix hasn’t hurt the tone of Bayonetta 2 at all. It’s just as sexually suggestive and violent as it ever was, maybe even more so, but, why wouldn’t it be? This is the same company that published Eternal Darkness, Killer Instinct and has just recently acquired exclusivity rights to the Fatal Frame series from Tecmo Koei.
I’m sure this is of absolutely no consolation to the children that hate the thought of Bayonetta 2 being a WiiU exclusive. Harbouring the misunderstanding that the big N never produce anything other than bright, happy, family entertainment. Cinging desperately onto the hope that it may come to another platform later after Platinum have come to their senses. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but It won’t. Nintendo have funded this game, they own the worldwide publishing rights, and rumour has it, they may buy the franchise from SEGA if it’s successful.
For the rest of us though, it appears that the brilliance of Platinum, combined with Nintendo’s notoriously high standards look set to create something very special indeed.
As far as I’m concerned 2014 can’t come soon enough.