In this week’s Breaking Down The Backlog…I have no idea what I did, but it was awesome.
I didn’t think Bayonetta could be topped. Its combat was so tight and the entire presentation so hilariously insane that I didn’t think anyone, especially not Platinum Games, could make a better ‘Character Action’ game. Well, I have eaten my hat – Bayonetta 2 is better in just about every way. The combat is more nuanced, the story is even more incomprehensible, the enemies look cooler and just the whole package has more depth to it.
As with all ‘Character Action’ games, your Devil May Crys or God of Wars, the combat is the highlight. Playing Bayonetta feels so precise and almost Fighting Game-esque in its concentration on combos and modifiers. You could button mash through the game, but in order to really enjoy playing Bayonetta 2 the player should do their best to string together a really long combo with air-combos, juggling, weapon changes and cancels.
You’re given incentive to do well in combat scenarios as you are rated after each one and, if you just mashed your way through, you are severely marked down. Luckily, much like the previous game, if you dodge at the last second you enable ‘Witch Time’ – which slows down time and lets you do some serious damage (and continues your combo). If you get good at dodging, you go through encounters unscathed and rack up some serious money.
Dodging also increases your ‘Witch Magic’. This is something you can do to make your attacks incredibly powerful or do a ‘Torture attack’ which also does a lot of damage and has a hilarious animation (usually based around whipping or a guillotine). Combat is always difficult to describe in text because, to really appreciate it, you have to play the game. But I have played a lot of games and let me tell you, very few are as fun or have so much variety as Bayonetta 2. Luckily, you can practice whilst the game is loading and there are essentially ‘challenge rooms’ that help you really get to grips with combos and the controls.
There is a lot to unlock in this game, so much so that it really lends itself to multiple play-throughs. All the grades, from Stone to Pure Platinum, give an ascending amount of rings depending on how quickly you completed a combat arena, along with how good your combo was and whether or not you were hit (and if you were, how many times). With those rings you can unlock new moves, all of which are very useful and have plenty of opportunities to use, treasures that allow you to do unique things like use magic to automatically dodge one attack, alternative costumes or helpful items. I finished the game and did pretty well, received mostly golds, but even then I couldn’t unlock everything!
On top of that, there are broken vinyl records of classical music in several levels that, once collected, unlock more weapons to use. These range from a a whip, to two hand-held chainsaws, a bow, some crazy multi-pronged scythe or fire/ice-spewing maces. Much like the treasures and new abilities, all of them are useful in some situations and less in others. My personal favourite combination was guns on my legs and swords in my arms. It had range, speed and had some excellent combos.
Every weapon can be used with others, although some can’t be used on the feet for obvious reasons, and they all work together to create some interesting combinations. I couldn’t get my head around the bow, but even that, when combined with the whips on my feet, gave me some serious range and was exceptionally useful in one particular encounter. I think I am still missing a weapon, there is a gap in the menu where something should be. I wonder what it could be. I am sure it is something crazy and awesome to use.
The story is absolutely hilarious and incomprehensible. It starts with Bayonetta’s friend Jeanne getting killed and which forces her to travel to Hell to get her back. In the process she finds out that some God-like being is trying to get the Left and Right Eye of the creator so he can rule over earth. I have no idea what was going on throughout the entire game. It is manic in its story-telling and never lets up or allows the viewer to truly digest what is going on.
I think she went back in time at one point, but for what I reason I could not tell you. What this ridiculous story does, however, is give some serious variety to the locations and game-play. Heaven and Hell look very different, as expected, but there are also ancient cities that look like a mixture of Greek and French architecture, you fight in the middle of space and on top of a mountain. Bayonetta pilots a mech that has its own combat abilities, you control a jet and fight demons in the air, you ride a demonic steed whilst fighting… there’s a whole lot of fighting but the game has enough variation to keep you entertained throughout.
Graphically, the game is pretty mediocre. You can really tell it is a) a moderately old game and b) the Wii U isn’t a graphical powerhouse. However, what Bayonetta 2 lacks for fidelity, it makes up for in designs. All the demons, angels and the characters themselves look really unique compared to almost any other game. The angels are ornately classical in their designs, drawing upon all those disturbing Renaissance religious paintings of cherubs and angels. The demons are more grotesque with more flesh on display, lots of spikes and fire. All the enemies are almost too busy and over-designed, but their animations are pretty basic and obvious, so it isn’t a chore to dodge their attacks, which is most important. The bosses are awe-inspiringly huge and great fun to fight. I will say, however, that the final boss was kind of disappointing. It was impressive but it wasn’t as epic as the finale of Bayonetta.
Bayonetta 2 is a phenomenal game to the point where I can’t really think of a major problem with it. Perhaps it is a touch too easy. I didn’t die or use an item throughout the game, but I wasn’t exactly getting ‘Pure Platinums’ on every level, either. I dread to think what it is like on the harder difficulties. If you are still holding onto the Wii U for some unknown reason, you should do yourself a favour and play Bayonetta 2. It is great fun from start to finish. I’m so glad they are making a third game.
See you in the new year!