| paleface [sys=PS3; cat=Platformer; loc=NA] |
|Apparently the PS3 version of Bayonetta was sort of a port of the Xbox version, by comparison suffering from muddier textures and an inconsistent framerate. I can definitely say I experienced the framerate issue, and I ran into a few crashes along the way, too. Oh, and load times aren't the fastest.|
While I'm at it let me just cover the other things I didn't like about Bayonetta. It's a long action-adventure-platformer-beat-em-up type of affair, where you go through a linear succession of linear levels, knocking the gems or whatever out of a rather small assortment of frequently re-used enemies enemies. Really, a game this long could have used a few more enemy types. Anyway it's of course got to have a sort of level-up scheme, but fortunately it doesn't really seem all that important: you can use eh money or whatever it was that you've earned/accumulated to buy additional combat moves for your character, alternate weapons, and magic jewelry that gives you certain bonuses, but most of the moves are of the non-intuitive variety that look like they'd be hard to pull off / remember in the midst of the game's lightning-fast combat, there's no indication of what the weapons might do--so why would you waste valuable money on them when none of them look as cool as the sword you already have?--and most of the magic jewelry stuff has a bonus AND a significant drawback; either that or it drains your magic energy, which you already need for other stuff.
So while there is this fairly complicated store system and buffing up system, it doesn't look like it matters much; combat comes down to dodging around until you get a dodge timed just right, at which point Witch Time kicks in, which is basically a "bullet time" in which you move at full speed while everyone else is slow, they can't block, and you can beat the tar out of them for a bit with the standard sword>sword>sword>sword>etc chain combo; also, the screen turns deep blue/purple.
That gets you through pretty much every fight in the game, except a few boss fights where the boss is immune to Witch Time--those are hard, just gotta tough 'em out, hit and run--and then the fights which use a different combat mechanic entirely. You do get other weapons for free, and you also have a gun in addition to whatever hand-to-hand weapon you use (but the non-swords look dumb and aren't nearly as satisfying to use, so I dunno why you'd want to; maybe they're slightly better statistically in some way but none of the many menu screens give you any stats for the weapons, so who knows?), but while the gun is handy for weaker faster enemies, or just pot-shots on things here and there, it takes forever to wear down any medium to large foe with just a gun--so mostly it's about the sword, and its chain combos. There's also kicking attacks, but again, why you'd waste time kicking when you have a sword, I'm...not sure.
While I'm covering other things the developers apparently spent a lot of time on for no good reason as far as I'm concerned, there are lots of little identical-looking arena challenges hidden around the game's many stages: beat a certain array of enemies with however many limbs tied behind your back or whatever the really annoying arbitrary rules for the arena battle are, and you get...a lollipop. Or some other temporary powerup.
No, really, most of the powerups are lollipops. There's this fairly extensive crafting system in which you take three or so type of ingredients you collect in the normal run of play, and stir them together in various combinations to make different colored lollipops and candies that confer temporary bonuses like invulnerability (that one is SO not balanced: many's the seemingly powerful giant boss I wasted with a nice big invulnerability lolly and a succession of massive chain combos right in his face), healing, increased damage, and so forth. At first I was pretty pissed that I had to worry about this whole crafting thing, but in the end you do pick up a fair number of ingredients just while running through the levels anyway, and stirring them together into a lollipop by navigating some irritating menu screens and cranking the analog stick around rapidly, while annoying, is offset by the considerable advantage the created sweet will confer in a tight spot.
So the menus: they're kind of irritating. Each menu screen seems to have its own design and style of interface, different than the others; there's no consistency, too much clicking, and really not much payoff. You *could* read a lot of nonsense you've collected about the backstories of various enemies or something, but who's going to bother when it's annoying to access and not very well written anyway?
Which gets us to the game's story, or what passes for it. Okay so the character you play, Bayonetta, is this female bad ass witch with ridiculously long legs, she's swept up in the age-old war between Witches and Angels (don't ask), of course there's some old bad guy we don't care about trying to off the Witches and give the Universe to the Angels--who aren't really that good in this game--and along the way you have to suffer through some really insipid interactions with this intrepid, amazingly unprofessional reporter guy who blames you for killing his parents--but also has the hots for you?--and a little girl who is kind of a little you, or something...I forget how that worked out.
So basically the story is incomprehensible. It's okay when it comes along in animated cut-scenes, because they're well-animated and, well, Bayonetta has a nice character model ifyouknowwhatImean, but sometimes they're this real budget, bizarre slideshow type of thing where the character models are in a set pose while the camera bobs back and forth, dialogue plays, and irritating old film reel effects play over the screen, amid hyper-edit effects and image-swaps. Ugh. Fire whatever guy thought that was a good idea (although it seems like it might have been something they came up with to cover their asses when they realized they couldn't possibly animate all the cut-scenes).
Now despite all that stuff, I liked the game.
For one thing, while the basic dodge / Witch Time counterattack mechanic is repeated over and over and over, it's...just really satisfying. Bayonetta's over-the-top combat animations are fast--really, really fast--and fluid, the effects are pretty, and the enemies blow up so nicely after taking their whacks. There aren't that many enemy types, and they aren't very smart, but at least they tend to have different attack styles, so while you still dodge whatever it is and then counterattack in slow-mo, you're dodging something slightly different than what you dodged in the last encounter, usually, so...it sort of works out. Anyway I didn't get tired of that part too much.
(Oh, but back on the topic of things that I didn't like, the camera isn't the best; it never follows behind Bayonetta fast enough to follow the action, tends to be zoomed out a bit too far (or sometimes squished up too close or at an awkward angle), and your view of your character is often obscured by the game's many combat effects, or just a throng of enemies. This was getting me all pretty ticked off, particularly when trying to beat some of the arena challenges I stumbled across, because you're always swept into a throng of enemies in those, and also can only take three hits--but you can't see the darn hits coming at you because of the camera/crowd/etc. Also the enemies often move so fast you won't really have time to react anyway. So you have to give up on that, and just kind of dodge...all the time. Never stop dodging until you've engaged Witch Time by dodging at just the last second, and then counter-attack with the biggest chain combo (ie mash Sword attack) until Witch Time ends--then go back to dodging. You probably won't be able to see yourself or what you're doing or what those around you are doing much of the time, but in the end, that doesn't matter. It sounds weird and lame, but once you've given into it and just gone with it, it's okay, really. I think they realized they'd made a game that was just too fast to keep up with, and so they made the combat system not really require that you see yourself or the enemies clearly. Auto-targeting works pretty nicely, Bayonetta covers ground between enemies very quickly, and you can demolish a whole gang without having to see them much. It's okay.
You've also gotta give up on getting around the enemy's blocking. I did, anyway; maybe some of those unintuitive moves I didn't waste precious money on (I didn't want to at first, but in the end, the way to go seemed to be to spend money buying extra lollipops, because they're just so darn effective when you need 'em) can get around the enemy's auto-block, I dunno, but it certainly seems like, after the first few stages, even the run-of-the-mill enemies block every attack you throw at them UNLESS you're in Witch Time, which means that you CAN'T ATTACK; you've got to dodge, then counterattack once Witch Time slow-mo has kicked in after a precisely (luckily) timed dodge. This was another thing that was infuriating at first--particularly because in the first few stages you COULD get in hits outside of Witch Time, but then just a bit further on, the enemies are suddenly blocking everything, with no explanation, grr--but once I just accepted it, it was all right. Dodge, dodge, dodge, dodge, WITCH TIME GOES! Counterattack. Roll with it.
And then there are lots of stages, and lots of stage-end boss battles, and while they do recycle some of the bosses, too, the bosses are huge--no, HUGE; I mean like big enough where lots of times the body of the boss becomes the level, and you're running around on their skin. Some of their patterns ARE irritating, some seem a little overpowered, or just have too much darn health so the fight is a real slog, but for the most part, the Bayonetta boss fights, taken as a whole, blah blah blah, are some of the most memorable in...memory.
Which gets us to the level design, I mean how some levels are basically running around on a giant boss' skin. See, Bayonetta has this really slick directional gravity system, where a level can have you fairly seamlessly along, say, all the walls and ceiling of a room, or the outer surface of a spherical mini-world, or the head of a massive boss, or whatever they want. It seems confusing at first, and really is, because the initial OH OKAY THIS WALL YOU CAN RUN ALONG BUT NOT ALL THOSE OTHERS is haphazard and arbitrary, but again it's just sort of a flow to the game that you get used to eventually.
And once things settle in, man, you are in for some of the awesomest (damn you spell checker, that is a word because I say so) levels ever devised; we're talking huge crazy 3D pathways and sections ripped out of multiple worlds floating in space at all different directions and angles, and you're like rocket-jumping between them through the crazy upside-down gravity void and somehow it all works and is amazing.
It helps that the art design is killer. Okay so some of the enemies seem a bit overdone and you can't really tell what the heck they're supposed to be, but the environment concepts and effects, not to mention the combat effects, animations, and models associated with Bayonetta and many of her more noteworthy foes, are simply spectacular, amazing, beautiful--even in this not-quite-up-to-snuff PS3 version.
So some of the levels, particularly later on, are nearly impossible to describe sensory overloads where you're rocketing or being rocketed at ridiculous speeds through MC Escheresque stages while heavenly and hellish choirs sing and the universe is in you, man; it's in you.
Seriously, it's pretty rad stuff. And normally I don't even like games where a certain level will have totally different gameplay than the rest of the game--a horrible waste of development time, if nothing else--and this happens a LOT in Bayonetta--so much so that I wonder how the heck they got it all done--and some of them are annoying, but a lot of them are amazing, like the Space Harrier-esque level (yes this is a Sega game), and the incredibly crazy racing level.
And that's another area in which Bayonetta clearly succeeds: just being flat-out crazy. The story doesn't make sense, the physics don't make sense, but who cares when you're being bombarded by such ridiculously fast, colorful, sexy, sassy style in quasi-limitless variety? Bayonetta herself is pretty crazy, and fits in perfectly with this wacky multiverse she's carving to pieces.
Say, even the music is noteworthy, and that's something I usually overlook entirely in games. The vocal jazz classic "Fly Me to the Moon" forms the game's main refrain, in both original jazz-era (I forget the singer...a woman, not very well known now, but no piker), and updated Japanese-esque versions, and it's something to hear while you're engaged in, say, a witch-on-witch battle involving jumping back and forth between B-52 bombers and flying missiles: a scenario which happens, in various combinations, not as infrequently as you might suppose.
I doubt I'll ever want to play through the game, the dumb story, and the various frustrations again, but man, what a ride that was, despite them all.
|Download added: disc.jpg (37784 bytes)|
The story hinges largely upon Bayonetta's unlikely amnesia, which as we know always makes for a great story, yeahhh.
Bayonetta--the female witch character--has this hyperbolic sex kitten thing going on: she struts around in a crazy black leatherish catsuit that sometimes flows off her and becomes her hair or something, some of her kick attacks in particular seem to emphasize her crotch quite strongly, she likes to eh kiss or lick props and so forth, and yet on the whole the character is played classily enough that she comes off in a sort of vampy-by-style-choice way. Rather than a slutbag way, I mean.
The voice acting, for that matter, is quite good.