Video Game Review – Bayonetta (PS3)

That’s right. We’ve got another review of a video game basically a week after the game came out. In this case, it’s Bayonetta, the new action from from Platnium Games (which is made up of the team which made Okami, God Hand, and Viewtiful Joe), and specifically from the creator of Devil May Cry. Does it hold up to its pedigree, or does it kind of fall down on its face?

General Information

Title: Bayonetta
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega
Systems: X-Box 360, PS3 (I played the PS3 Version)
Release Date: Janurary 5th, 2010.
Game Type: 3rd Person Action Game

Premise:

Bayonetta is an amnesiac woman from a clan of witches, who goes on a mission to recover her past, as well as mysterious gem – one half of the “Eyes of the World” (she has the other half), which grants the wielder power to control reality.

Content Notes:

This game was rated “Mature” by the ESRB for near nudity, extremely suggestive imagery, and loads of graphic violence.

High Points:

The game’s controls are pretty solid – with the sole exception of the camera, and in combat they’re generally responsive. It’s easy to get in and out of combos. The game’s dodge system is also pretty good, and I generally didn’t have any problems getting into the game’s bullet time system – called “Witch Time” – which you do by dodging at the last minute. The puzzles are also very well executed. Also, I only got lost in the game precisely once, and I found my way fairly quickly. That’s significant because I tend to have a problem with that in this kind of game.

Also, the game is the right kind of over-the-top. How over the top is it? Well, when you beat the last boss (who you fight in space), you hit her so hard, you have to steer her past all the planets, and into the sun.

Low Points:

I’m not a big fan of Bayonetta’s character design. Not in terms of the game’s character design in general, but in terms of the main character. The character looks a little too skinny, and well… it’s literally stripperiffic. No – seriously, she literally pole-dances at several points in the game. There’s no explicit nudity, but still. Also, while some of the Finishing moves (called “torture moves”) you use on some of the enemies are alright, the one you use on the overtly female “angels” is basically genital mutilation. Really! (link is to a YouTube video of the move in question)

The game also has some graphical problems (which I’ll get into under the scores), but worse – the game has loading screens for everything. It takes 45 seconds to load up the pause menu. 45 seconds to load up the subscreen. A minute and a half to load up a cutscene and the next section of the level.  All of this adds up. I bring this up because the PS3 version of the game doesn’t have an option to install some of the game’s files to the hard drive – and it’s the only game for the PS3 that I know of that does this. It makes no sense.

The Scores:

Originality: The game has a lot in common with Devil May Cry, from the mechanics of the game to the visual styles of the game – art deco cities combined with gothic ruins. Even the main character’s orgins aren’t to0 far from Dante’s origins. They have their differences, but not much. Oh – and they also do some nods to other Sega Games here (Fantasy Zone in particular). 3 out of 6.

Story: Also like Devil May Cry, the story goes about up to your ankles, and mainly exists to string the levels and boss fights together. I wouldn’t describe it as being much deeper than the story for Ninja Gaiden – for the NES. What we get is still decent, but not much more than that. 3 out of 6.

Graphics: As far as the PS3 version goes the graphics are barely passible. It’s not that they’re completely awful, but there are some problems. For starters, there are problems lots of problems with tearing. If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means that the graphics above a line on the screen and below a line on the screen aren’t syncing up. 3 out of 6.

Sound: The sound effects are passible, as is the music. That said – I didn’t feel like turning down the stereo and turning up the TV for the game’s soundtrack, like I did with Arkham Asylum. 3 out of 6.

Playability: This is probably the game’s strong point. Combat is rock solid, with only a few enemies who are a real nuisance. Boss fights are challenging, but without making me want to chuck a controller. While a lot of them are “find-the-pattern-hit-the-weak-spot” bosses, they’re still fun enough to keep me going, without getting bored. It helps that you get some feedback after every every checkpoint to tell you how you’re doing. Unlike Brutal Legend, where I kept playing through it for the story, I kept playing through it because the gameplay was fun. 5 out of 6.

Immersion: This game wears it’s video gameyness on it’s sleeve. It never aims to be particularly “immersible” and, to be fair – at least with the PS3 version, due to all the loading, it could never really be immersible. This is significant, because with the last two games I reviewed – Brutal Legend and Arkham Asylum, I never saw a loading screen unless I was continuing from a game over screen. Here, I could count the times I didn’t see loading screens over the times I didn’t. 2 out of 6.

Overall: When’s all said and done, I had fun playing this game, which is ultimately the criteria I’m shooting for. 4 out of 6.

In Total, Bayonetta gets 23/42.

4 replies on “Video Game Review – Bayonetta (PS3)”

  1. GrimSean says:

    The screen tearing is a common complaint with the PS3 version, so much so that I think Sega even went on record to say that they didn’t do the port to that system.

    I really wanted to like this game, but the demo on XBL completely turned me off of it. The camera completely killed my enjoyment of the game, making it in turns either impossible to see my character, or impossible to see my enemies. I’m all about the frantic action (I love Ninja Gaiden) but this just didn’t agree with me as I found there to be almost too much going on to be able to follow what I was doing, especially given the fact that the camera was driving me crazy. I might rent it once all the hullabaloo over it has died down and see how the full game fairs against the demo, but only if I get through the rest of my stack of ‘to be played/to be finished’ games (Dragon Age and Fallout 3 are both in there, so it could take a while).

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  3. A few things I forgot to mention in my review – the game has a few Quick Time Events of the “Press X To Not Die” variety. I did find that these events didn’t respond to my button presses very well, where some times I’d hit the button but still die or take damage.

    Also, a few bosses have annoying one-hit-one-kill attacks (particularly the last boss). I figured these were covered under the controls in the review, but after some thought, I decided that I wanted to single those out in the comments.

  4. So, as an addendum to this review – 1up.com has reported that Bayonetta is finally getting a patch that lets you install the game to your PS3’s hard drive, rectifying one of my Low Points in my review. I’m not going to alter my score in the review proper because of this – that wouldn’t be intellectually honest. However, what I will say is that you can feel free to add however many points you feel are appropriate to Immersion to reflect the reduced loading screens of version after the patch.

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