The witch is back.
The original Bayonetta may not have been a huge selling hit, but that doesn’t mean that the fast paced action game wasn’t brilliant fun, with over the top set pieces, an engaging combat system and the utterly mesmerizing Umbran Witch herself. When it was announced that PlatinumGames would be making a sequel, something which made perfect sense to fans of the original, and that the sequel would be coming exclusively to the Wii U, it did raise some question marks. Can the overly sexualised witch really find a home on the Nintendo platform? And can the Wii U itself do justice to the frantic action and mind blowing set pieces that fans would be expecting?
Core gamers have long lamented Nintendo’s family friendly reputation, having to make to do with limited options when it comes to grown-up gaming, or move to a rival console. The arrival of Bayonetta on the Wii U, both with the original game now being ported to Nintendo’s console and the imminent launch of the sequel, should certainly tick the boxes and shake the boots of the more adult gamers out there.
As for whether the power of the Wii U is suited to the Bayonetta games, there is no doubt that Bayonetta performs better on Nintendo’s console than it did on the last gen consoles.The Wii U may not have the power of the PS4 or Xbox One, but PlatinumGames have pushed the limits to a point that Bayonetta 2 is simply a joy to play, and it is difficult to imagine the game being any better on the rival consoles. It plays perfectly and looks absolutely gorgeous.
Concerns about Bayonetta 2 coming to the Wii U aside, it is time to step into the boots of everyone’s favorite Umbran Witch, strap on some guns and get down to the dirty business of smacking the Heavenly host and demonic horde.
Sporting a new hair style, but still retaining the wonderfully exciting hair based powers, Bayonetta begins the game busy shopping and tormenting mob wannabe Enzo. Of course, this relatively peaceful scene doesn’t last long and Bayonetta finds herself flying through the city on the back of a fighter jet, fighting angelic forces, as you do. Damn if this isn’t an amazing way to start a game. One thing leads to another and Bayonetta’s companion witch Jeanne joins the fight. However, things go wrong with a skyscraper and a particularly large demon when Jeanne’s soul is captured and taken to Hell.
With a setting that is as deep and complex as the Bayonetta universe, there is bound to be more going on than just a simple trip to the gates of Hell. Sure enough, new characters are introduced, favorite characters from the first game return, and a mysterious threat reveals itself. The story in Bayonetta 2 is never going to win awards, but it is wittily written and thoroughly engaging, providing the perfect vehicle for an absolute shed load of action.
Something that is incredibly impressive, is the way that Bayonetta 2 is so accessible to all levels of gamer. The systems in place are deep and complex, yet they allow even a novice player to perform amazing actions and feel like they are a gaming guru. Two simple attack buttons provide most of the action, and when combined with other actions, movements and timing, give the player access to a huge number of special moves and combos that simply blow the mind.
Arguably the most important move in Bayonetta 2 is the dodge. This basic evasion not only provides the player with a way to avoid taking damage, but also, if timed perfectly, launches the player into the slow-motion Witch Time. This provides a momentary pause from the action, time to take a breath and plan the next move.
Further enhancing the combat, which admittedly hasn’t changed much from the original game, are the collectible weapons that can be used. A new range of weapons can be held in the hands, or rather impressively attached to the boots of Bayonetta, to change things up and give access to yet more ways to systematically taking apart the enemy. Bayonetta can even pick up dropped enemy weapons, for yet more variety.
Bayonetta’s foes are suitably varied, across both the angels and demons, ranging from the standard grunts, who still look impressive, through to the world smashing bosses that really look like far more than Bayonetta can handle. Bayonetta 2 certainly is a visual spectacle, with the set pieces often being particularly epic and over the top. There is a certain amount of familiarity with the original game, but that is no bad thing as the first game was known for its impressive set pieces amongst other things.
Playing through the entire story will take the average player around eight hours or so, which may not seem like much. But there is yet more to do. The wonderful combat mechanics are not only a joy to use, but also a learning curve that positively encourages further play throughs. Then there is also after game content in the form of arena battles and the enjoyable Tag Climax mode, a co-op mode in which players team up to take on a mass of battles for cash and glory.
Those worried about the controls on the Wii U need worry no more. The game plays perfectly with the GamePad, without any unnecessary touch screen shenanigans or unwanted gimmicks. While some may see this as a missed opportunity on PlatinumGames’ behalf, I think the majority of Bayonetta gamers will be pleased with the simplicity.
Bayonetta 2 is a masterpiece that exceeds the previous title in every way. It looks great, plays well and is pure entertainment. No one is going to suggest that it is overly clever, and it is certainly not suitable for family gaming sessions. But for anyone interested in a thrill packed, roller coaster ride of an action game, which is aimed at a more mature audience on the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 should be the first port of call. Get your witch on!