When one mentions Sega, the first thing that comes to mind, for most people, is a spiky blue hedgehog. However, Sega has taken steps over the past couple years to let people know there is a lot more to them than our super fast friend. First came Jack in last year's sleeper hit Madworld, with his chainsaw and the game's Sin City style sending gamers into a frenzy. Now, with the help of Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe director Hideki Kamiya, Sega unveils their latest creation: Bayonetta.
With guns in hand (and attached to each ankle), as well as swords, claws, and other weapons you acquire over the course of the game, Bayonetta, a 500 year old witch who escaped the witch hunts of the 15th century, rages her own personal war against the forces of heaven as she fights to not only restore the balance between light and dark, but also to restore the memories she lost when she was forced into a near five century hibernation by her fellow witches.
As soon as the game starts, Kamiya's style oozes out of the game with over the top characters and situations, a pop version of Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" blasting in the background, and an ageless battle between heaven and hell unfolding as you're immediately thrown into a face-off against several angel-like creatures.
The other thing you immediately notice is that the fighting system is exactly like Devil May Cry. It is to the point that you wonder how much work Kamiya actually did on this game or if he just redesigned his classic Dante as a female in a cat-suit. It's not to say that the system is poor, but points off for lack of originality. Also, the PS3 version lags tremendously compared to the Xbox 360 version so the fighting system on that console lacks the smoothness necessary to pull off many of the elaborate combos that define this fighting style.
One of the nice nuances added to this fighting style, and for many of the game's button prompt sequences, is that Bayonetta's power comes from her hair and that she uses her hair to serve not only as most of the construct of her cat-suit, but to construct giant fists and feet to finish off some of her more devastating combos. She also uses her hair to summon hellish demons to her side to finish off all of the massive bosses you have to deal with over the course of the game in some tremendous cut scenes.
To counteract the lack of originality in the game play, the game is graphically beautiful. Of course, a good portion of that deals with the emphasis on some of Bayonetta's...best assets...but even when not focusing on those select areas, the levels, the angel creatures, the demons, the bosses, everything looks like you really are invading a heavenly stronghold.
Throw in phenomenal voice acting (although it was weird that no voice actors were credited in the end credits), a great instrumental soundtrack and some great pop covers on a Frank Sinatra classic, and spot-on SFX and the peripherals for this game are top notch.
It is a shame that it looks like that the great music and graphics are mostly being used to try to cover up a plot with more holes in it than a Palm Beach golf course. As Bayonetta starts to uncover her memories, she comes across a small girl, who starts calling her "Mommy", that ends up being a time-traveling version of herself, and she has to fight her father, who might also be her husband, who is also the right eye of their god, and Bayonetta may have died, and then come back because of a magical gem, and that is why she hibernated, and...I am confused just writing this. When you also consider that everyone seems to make these unbelievable escapes, whether they are magical or not, and the plot might just make your head hurt like a fourth-rate anime.
If you can look past the plot holes and the Devil May Cry game play mirroring and get into the game, there is actually a lot of replay value for this considering it only has a one-player mode. There are endless collectibles and secrets to find as you progress through the game and after beating the game the first time through, you unlock hard mode. Mind you, a full play through on normal should only take you 12-13 hours, so even with the replay value; this game will probably give you a total experience of only 25-30 hours if you beat every mode and collect every item.
Speaking of collectibles and lack of originality, the economy system for this game to buy items and maneuvers requires collecting...golden rings. Really Sega? You couldn't just make some digital cash? Just because you call them "halos" in this game, doesn't mean we don't know what they really are. Such a setup is fitting for a game that is best described as "fun, but trite".
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