I don't think I enjoy Bayonetta, and its sequel, for the reasons gaming's hardcore community do. While I'm aware of the insane depth to the game's combat mechanics (up-close melee and gun-based combos that pros can go to town with), and indeed dabble with some of the more advanced play options, it's the sheer craziness of it all that I love. As this Wii U exclusive sequel has proven, there really is nothing else like Platinum Games' Bayonetta.
Show the opening minutes to someone unfamiliar with either the series' style or the development studio and I'm really not sure what reaction you'd get. With its combination of crotch shots, outrageous combos, near-nudity, fighter jets, F-bombs and a secondary character that I can only describe as every version of Joe Pesci mashed into one, onlookers will either be baffled (perhaps offended) or completely sucked in.
Many non-Wii U owners will lament the fact that Bayonetta 2 is exclusive to Nintendo's troubled console, in part due to the fact that they're not getting a whiz-bang version on PS4 and/or Xbox One. It's safe to say, though, that the lack of horsepower hasn't held back the dev team's lofty visual ambitions – although it manifests in a rather odd way. Bayonetta 2 is the ugliest, most beautiful, over the top game I've ever laid my eyes on.
During the utter chaos of battle the screen is a mass of angular shapes bashing each other, the fight moving from solid ground, to underwater, to mid-air, at times with other fights taking place in the background. In one outrageously flamboyant fight, two summoned creatures are slugging it out as a backdrop to the more fluid acrobatic combat you're in control of. Whereas more processing power would have certainly allowed some smoothing out of edges, there's no shortage of WOW here. To make things even better, the whole thing moves along at a silky smooth fast frame rate.
Enemy design is incredible, and the introduction of new foes is handled in the same stylish way as in the original, displaying the kind of flair usually only seen in WWE. And the frequency at which they are introduced is relentless. To begin with it's fair to assume that after a while you'll have seen them all, the game then relying on recycling them at various points, but no, more and more are revealed, each as bizarre and brilliant as the last.
For a large chunk of the game you're joined by Loki, a young boy who dresses like the most stereotypical rapper ever conceived, and voiced by someone struggling to pull off an English accent having only had a child from Croydon to go on. His inclusion initially seems to be for no reason other than to annoy the hell out of you, his lines and delivery so awful I spent most of the early moments hoping the Umbra Witch would put a bullet into his head.
He does, inevitably grow on you, both as a character and as a gameplay device, at times fighting alongside you. As Bayonetta finds fondness for him, so will you, although his role in the game's story left a fairly sour taste in my mouth. If you're after cliched twists, you've come to the right place.
Unlockables up the wazoo mean that there's plenty here to warrant a second, third or more playthrough, and Platinum has packed in the kind of bonus items fans will lap up. New costumes, items, moves and more mean you're unlikely to see everything the game has to offer for quite some time.
Story mode is joined by co-op mode, Tag Climax. Here you play online or against the CPU across 52 stages (unlocked through earning cards during the main story) wagering in-game currency for big rewards – the more you wager, the tougher the challenge. A variety of characters and costumes can be chosen, but this is a mode geared around serious players rather than people who are playing for the ride.
Bayonetta 2 is a system seller. It's a Nintendo-published game that is rarely seen, and a game that will legitimately make non-Wii U owners jealous. It's everything I want from a hardcore Nintendo title, offering genre-leading combat and eye-popping visual spectacle. The fact that Bayonetta 2 delivers the goods is no surprise. Nintendo being the firm behind its continued survival, however, is a surprise we should be very grateful for.
I'm a hardcore gamer who needs a hardcore controller
If you're a die-hard Bayonetta fan you may well be buying a Wii U just to play this game. As far as reasons to buy a new console go, this is up there with the best, but your switch to the Wii U GamePad or the Pro Controller might present a few issues – especially for a game that asks for such rapid and well-timed button presses.
Switching from the familiar button placement of the Xbox or PlayStation pads to the monstrous gamepad or Pro Controller is tough. Even simple things like hitting the correct button as shown on the screen can cause moments of panic as you realise your digits don't sit where they normally do. Movements of your thumb, second nature most of the time, suddenly require more focus and, shock horror, a glance at the pad itself.
The GamePad does make use of the touch screen, but the functionality is geared entirely around complete novices. You can make use of prods and swipes of the screen to blast through enemies with ease, taking away almost all of the game's considerable challenge. If (and I expect this won't happen often given the game's audience), a complete newcomer to action games wanted to give the game a go, this isn't a terrible option, but you're not really 'playing' Bayonetta 2 this way.
There's no question that the Pro Controller is the best option here, simply because it's more comfortable to hold for long periods. Whichever controller you choose, just be aware that the first few hours will have an extra learning curve in which you curse the button layout and naming Nintendo opted for.
9 / 10
- Looks wonderful in motion
- Depth is there for hardcore
- Brilliantly entertaining from start to finish
- Some minor controller issues