Bayonetta 2 – Preview

Title   Bayonetta 2
Developer  Platinum Games
Publisher  Nintendo
Platform  Wii U
Genre  Action, hack and slash
Release Date  2014

When I previewed The Wonderful 101, I made mention of a crazy hack and slash where the protagonist is clothed only by her own hair, but this isn’t a description that wholly does justice to the absolutely ballistic madness that is Bayonetta. Telling the story of an amnesiac witch with incredible fighting prowess, her début became Platinum Games’ most successful title, even if it undersold their expectations, and it amassed a large cult following from fans and developers alike, with Jack Jackrabbit creator Cliff Bleszinski citing it as a game that he wishes he’d worked on.

With fans clamouring for a sequel, I doubt you’d have found anyone willing to place a bet on Nintendo funding and publishing it as a Wii U exclusive, nor on it delivering enough high-octane thrills and intense action sequences to make Bruce Willis or Jason Statham look incompetent. There’s so much going on, even in the opening sequence that I played, that I’d be hard-pressed to tell you about any of the actual story or plot because the cut-scenes were so insanely over-the-top that I spent half of them trying to keep my jaw off the ground.

As someone who doesn’t consider themselves much of a fan of the hack and slash genre I was worried that – like my experiences with the demo for the original Bayonetta – I’d find it all a bit impenetrable and see myself mentally, and physically, switching off. With the Very Easy, Easy, and Normal difficulties available for the demo I even found myself tempted to switch to Very Easy mode, which plays out mostly automatically, save for occasional prompts that allow the player to pull off elaborate combos with just the press of a button. Sanity persevered, however, and after watching the people ahead of me get slaughtered, I opted for the only-slightly-less-damaging-to-my-reputation option known as Easy mode, although I was quite glad to discover it gave me almost exactly the level of challenge I was looking for, allowing me to get accustomed to the controls and the combat without being mollycoddled as a result.

With a variety of moves at her disposal, Bayonetta has separate attacks for her punches, kicks, and her guns, and these can all be accentuated through the use of “Witch Time”; dodging an enemy’s attack at the right moment will slow time to a crawl and allow our supernatural heroine to unleash massive counter-attacks on her foes. Stringing together effective combos is a slight learning curve, but once I’d felled a few centaur-like monsters I had it all under control, and was unleashing havoc and torture attacks like nobody’s business.

These torture attacks are special executions that the witchy woman can use to over-kill her enemies, and this particular climax attack saw a treadmill manifest under their feet right by a painfully spiky crushing machine, with rapid button-mashing allow you to build up more megatons of force with which to kick them into it. Once you’ve hit a groove with it, the combat is actually deeply satisfying and, were I to have more time to unravel its complexities, I’m sure I’d have enjoyed it even more.

Soon the action moved from on top of a stealth jet to a train that was rapidly trying to escape another giant monster, a mini-boss battle ensued which lead on to another battle caused by Bayonetta using her hair to summon a giant monster to destroy another, before turning on and killing the creature she’d just summoned. At least, that’s what I think happened. The battle soon escalated, with Bayonetta flying through the sky attempting to subdue her recently-summoned foe, with bullets flying through the air at an alarming rate, shortly followed by her hair lashing towards her target as its health slowly but surely depleted towards zero. With the end of the battle nigh, the only thing left for Bayonetta to do was finish it off using a devastating attack with damage in the gigatons, before using her hair to consume it as the demo drew to a close.

I can’t recall with the utmost certainty what actually happened duing my time on Bayonetta 2, but all I know is that I want more of it. With two player mode and off-TV play also confirmed, Bayonetta 2 is looking more and more like it’s going to take the Wii U by storm.

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  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    Still can’t believe that Ninty of all people published this one. Not very *them*… I mean… where are all the kiddie colours and chubby plumbers? Still, that said, it looks fucking impressive – even if she’d do someone a mischief with those fucking shoulder pads.

    I’ve never been into hack and slashes really, and remember being incredibly underwhelmed and frustrated by the original. I recall giving up at a huge boss battle after having no idea what I was supposed to be doing, no idea how to pull off the mental combos required, and no idea what was actually going on. At all. One to watch someone else play, methinks.

  2. Edward Edward says:

    There’s a super-easy mode where Bayonetta does all the massive combos herself, and it requires you to do a couple of touch-screen swishes every now and then to activate them, which I think is like the first one where there was a mode where you only ever needed to press one button to make the game essentially play itself.

    Thing is, a series as ballistic and weird as this, I’d probably find myself doing it just so it looked like I was absolutely boss at it.

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