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Thursday January 14, 2010 3:29 pm

In Three Paragraphs: Bayonetta




Posted by Alex Lifschitz Categories: Action, SEGA, Xbox 360

Description

Welcome to a new quickie feature for Playfeed, in which I attempt to distill a game review into a bite-size chunk for you to feed on demurely. At E3, I was singing nothing but praises about Bayonetta, and that was primarily from a one-level demo. Demos, of course, are either used to

  • Sell a product by giving you the best of the best so you salivate like Pavlov’s dogs when you pass the retail copy over
  • Give you the only part of a game that is not festering, abject crap.

So now the retail copy has launched, and I am left to tell you what to expect, because I am forever carrying the cross of the game reviewer. Hit the jump for Bayonetta in 3 paragraphs.

NOTE: This is the Xbox 360 version of the game. The PS3 has been known to have some nasty framerate issues.

By everything I have come to know about video games, Bayonetta SHOULD be awful. Everything bad about video games is neatly compacted into the disc - Expository dialogue, needless quick-time events, even the double-whammy of escort missions with crying, obnoxious children. This should be an awful, awful game, but for some reason, I like it. I like Bayonetta, for all the middling flaws that I could pick at like a baboon grooming his partner.

The most glaring flaw to me is that Bayonetta is game that wants to be seen, not played. It’s beautiful, given, but it seems that they want to cram as many non-interactive cutscenes down your gullet as they possibly can in each level, and a good portion of the cutscenes are composed of choreographed fight sequences with regular enemies. I’m left wondering why they went through the trouble of making such a fluid combat system if they turn half the engagements into pre-scripted CGI wankfests. Bayonetta’s Achilles’ heel, then, is a failure of interactive storytelling.

That being said, what they do right, they do justice to. The difficulty, even on normal, can be brutal at times, but not unforgivingly so. You’ll have to grind some earlier levels to afford new upgrades if you want the game to be easier, but the reward structure is discrete enough to feel like you’re actually making progress, and it’s just fun when you play it. It’s over the top, incredibly stylized, and unnervingly smooth when you’re actually in control of the damn thing. If you can ignore the flaws and occasional tired action game cliche, you’ll find yourself getting pretty deep into the experience.

Final Call: If you don’t give a damn about game narrative or the occasional design annoyance, or if you love games like Devil May Cry, you’ll probably like Bayonetta.

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