Bayonetta 2 – Demo Impressions (Wii U)
The final game that I got to preview at the London MCM Comic Con was the upcoming explosive sequel to one of this generation’s most over-the-top yet underrated action games: Bayonetta 2. I only got to play the main portion of the demo and not the boss at the end, because the line was long and the people showing off the game wanted everyone to play in good time. However, in the time that I had with the demo, there’s one thing to know about this game: It is awesome.
Bayonetta 2 is a bit of a strange story in its existence. Developer Platinum Games impressed greatly with the original Bayonetta but failed to make exceptional sales or gain mainstream popularity, but fans of the game will tell you how amazing it is. As such, a sequel may not have been possible until Nintendo stepped in to foot the bill, allowing Platinum to bring Bayonetta 2 to the Wii U as an exclusive title. Whether or not the title will ever see the light of day on Xbox 360 or PS3 is uncertain, but there definitely is high demand for the game on those platforms. That said, the Wii U has done Bayonetta 2 justice; it looks great, it plays great and it’s bound to be a hit.
The demo begins with a quick tutorial, in a similar style to the one in the original game; it tells you how to attack, shoot and, most importantly, dodge. The buttons are mapped in the exact same locations as the original controls, just now with Wii U gamepad buttons instead. It took some getting used to, to remember which button did what, but once you get accustomed to the gamepad it feels very good. Like all Wii U games, the gamepad acts as a second screen which mirrors the action on the bigger screen, so you could play just by looking at the gamepad itself. Once the tutorial was completed, the opening cutscene began to play and immediately you’re thrust right into the thick of battle. The combos are fluid and flexible, with Bayonetta able to chain various attacks together and completely dominate the enemies. Players of the original game can immediately hop in and begin to re-apply the same techniques which have translated perfectly into the sequel, but there’s also some new surprises in store.
Bayonetta as a character has a huge flair for the dramatic, with seductive poses and over-the-top attacks that are immediately apparent in the opening cutscene. The look for Bayonetta may have changed but Platinum Games did not compromise on her unique, sexy style that was in full force in the original game. After a spectacular opening cutscene, the player finds themselves on a fighter jet flying through a city, for reasons unknown. You’re faced off against the angel-like enemies from the original game, now in new forms, and you can immediately begin to beat them down in phenomenal ways. The combat in Bayonetta 2, like its predecessor, is kinetic, fast paced and satisfying. Bayonetta has the ability to fight with guns on her hands and feet, as well as several new weapons including two swords and thorn-like whips. ‘Punish’ and ‘Torture attacks’ make a welcome return, with new, hilarious ways to damage and kill enemies when prompted by on-screen button presses. Like the original game, fights with bosses conclude with Bayonetta doing a dance to use her hair (which are also her clothes) to summon a large, powerful demon to destroy the enemy in a bloody spectacle. I couldn’t make any of that all up even if I wanted to, that’s just how Bayonetta is.
The graphics of Bayonetta 2 are Platinum Games’ signature standard; gorgeous, vibrant and running at 60fps at all times. Even as the jet fighter that Bayonetta stands on zooms through the city, the frame rate never drops even as tons of enemies fill the screen. The action becomes even more ridiculous as Bayonetta’s partner from the original game, Jeanne, joins the fight after flying in upside-down upon her on fighter jet. A colossal and formidable boss appears to change-up the flow of the battle, and the fight transfers from atop the fighter jet and unto a speeding train. The music is fast and exciting, in a similar style of the original game’s music, which keeps you hype during all the action. This may all seem like sensory overload, especially with all the button prompts and quick time events that appear on-screen, but the game never gets so chaotic that the player isn’t given a chance to breathe. The action never lets up and there’s always something to marvel at.
The newest addition to Bayonetta 2’s already vast arsenal of game mechanics is the new form ‘Umbran Climax’. This augmented mode grants an insane power boost to Bayonetta once her magic gauge is filled and it turns all her attacks into ‘Wicked Weaves’; over-the-top attacks that fill the screen with and do major damage to enemies, and it can be turned off at will after activating. This is reminiscent of Bayonetta’s augmented mode during the boss fights of the original game, where her attacks become larger and do more damage. This new mode adds a layer of strategy to the game where you can choose to sacrifice magic gauge for better damage or save it for a devastating torture attack to finish an enemy. This, coupled with the ‘Witch Time’ mode where Bayonetta can dodge an enemy attack at the last second to slow down time, makes for some exciting fights that test both your skill and tactics. The boss fight on the speeding train will force you to utilize Witch Time to survive, as the boss lashes out several attacks as the fight goes on, so remembering to use it is the key to victory. Luckily, if you die in the demo you’ll instantly revive due to an item, giving you a second chance in the fight. In the full game this item will likely have to be bought in a store for points, but it was useful to have it for the sake of allowing new players to enjoy the game.
If the scale and spectacle of Bayonetta 2 doesn’t overwhelm you, then the variety of combos and challenging gameplay might. Bayonetta 2 is every bit like its predecessor; lightning fast, unrelenting and punishing if not played to its utmost best. The presentation may not be for all and certainly the character design of Bayonetta herself might be off-putting, especially when it comes to her becoming next to naked when she performs a Wicked Weave or demon summoning. However, if you’ve got an appetite for the extravagant and you’re ready to quench that thirst for intense hack n slash action then Bayonetta 2 will definitely do the job. Bayonetta 2 is scheduled to release on the Wii U at some unspecified time in the future, but to get a good idea of what the sequel will be like you can pick up the original Bayonetta very cheap for Xbox 360 and PS3. Platinum Games does it again, by bringing the challenge and wow-factor of their newest action character to the Wii U.