Thursday, January 12, 2012

Game Review - Bayonetta

A couple months ago, I swapped games with a classmate and got my hands on Bayonetta. I had heard of it in passing before then, mostly just that the character had guns on her shoes, but it wasn't something that quite struck my fancy enough at the time to go out and buy it. It's different from my usual RPG and more adventurous fantasy games, but when I had the option to try it for free I figured why not.

I still haven't beaten it yet, as classes have been interfering, but I'm at chapter twelve I think, out of sixteen or seventeen if you count the epilogue, but I've played enough of it that I think I could have some knowledgeable comments.

To start off, I was not expecting what I got in terms of story or plot. I went into it knowing nothing except the main character had gun shoes, and wanted to have the experience of not knowing the plot before I played. The opening sequence and chapter is the one I think I remember best out of all the cinematics and play throughs. It started out in medias res, as it were, with Bayonetta falling from the sky on bits of rock with another character, and fighting off various creatures and monsters without any explanation of the battle methods or controls, literally throwing you into the fray.

Sometimes this works very well for games, like in Uncharted 2, where Drake started off on the train as it was hanging off a cliff. They portrayed that much more succesfully then Bayonetta though, I think. Admittedly, Uncharted included the controls as well while Drake was climbing the train. Bayonetta explained how to fight shortly after the beginning scene and combat, but I still would have preferred to know what the controls were right away. I did like the dodging abilities though, hold R2 and move the thumbstick in any direction and she'll flip or roll that way. Get the timing juuusst right, and you can activate something called Witch Time, which slows down everything except Bayonetta, so she can deal a much larger amount of damage while hardly being touched. It only lasts for a few seconds, but it's a handy and tricky tool. It comes into play a lot throughout the game, a lot of times you have to trigger it through the use of ever so conveniently placed statues that will hit you with lightning. Dodge at the right moment, and the time will slow and you can get past certain obstacles such as running overtop water spouts, or through a regenerating wall before it repairs itself.

In terms of the plot, it seemed kind of willy nilly, with nothing really 100% certain such as in other games. My understanding now, without having fully completed the game, is that Bayonetta is the last of her clan and is fighting against the light and the angels towards some end purpose . I do like their slightly different take on the, by now, fairly stereotyped good vs. evil plot, by making the two forces into opposing clans, Umbran Witches(Darkness) and the Lumen Sages(Light.) Both clans had power over the light and the dark, and kept the balance in the universe until something happened to make them war on each other.

Other parts of the game, specifally the cut scenes and cinematics, just confused me. Some of the cut scenes were animated with conversation and action and the characters actually moving, like a typical cinematic, but then interspersed with it were comic style cut scenes that were a bit too different of a type from the other cinematics to work well together, I think. It resulted for the most part in me wanting to skip the comic scenes just to get back to the fighting. If every cut scene was like that, I don't think I would have minded quite as much.

As I advanced through the game, I had a lot of trouble with the load time between screens, and even just going from the game mode to the menu and back took longer to load then I think it should have. The delay occured whenever I switched any menus, going into the item menu or into the angel and demon books and flipping pages, each load screen took just long enough to be irritatingly noticeable. I've talked to other friends of mine that have Xboxes, and from what I can tell it's primarily a PS3 issue though I haven't found a reason for it.

I think one of the cooler things about Bayonetta though is the weapons and attack combos. You start off initially with a weapon set of four guns, but as you go through the game you can discover and purchase more weapons. Right now my preferred one are the ice and fire gauntlets. As you combine and mix each weapons(Her shoes have various equipable guns too), the combos all change to different looks and sorts, which is straight up awesome. You can also pick up the weapons of dead enemies and fight with them for a short period of time. Each one has a sort of special attack that uses up what I guess would be it's energy? When you use the special attack, the weapon disappears. Each one has a different special, such as the horn one of the angels carries, and another has a long spear or halberd type weapon, and the special for that essentially sets Bayonetta to pole dancing on the weapon while kicking everything else in the face.

I would go on, but a class is about to start, and so I must depart. Bayonetta, not my favorite game out there, but not terrible.

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