Without giving too much away you play the part of Bayonetta, a witch who has been dead and in hell for years only to escape and be cursed with killing Angels on a daily basis. Failure to do so will have her sent back to hell.
The story doesn't make a great deal of sense at the start and you start to wonder if the developers were dropping acid in the board room that day but as the player you get fed little bits throughout the game which help to bring it all together, this is quite well done as to add insult to injury Bayonetta has amnesia, she remembers her name and little else, throughout the course of the game facts are revealed and Bayonetta gets her memories back, this is done via cutscene and gameplay, this of course makes a nice little link to the next section. . .
You could be forgiven for thinking that you are playing Devil May Cry 5 with different characters, everything about this title screams a tweaked DMC and therein lies the problem (at least for myself) I was not a fan of the DMC games, I liked the first one, but still couldn't put more than a few hours into it before I got bored and went off to do something a little less tedious, like watching paint dry or reading War and Peace. But as this clearly isn't DMC I felt I should give it a fair rundown.
The game itself plays very quickly with fluid movements from one section to the next, combat is a mixture of guns, swords more guns, magic and ermmm hair. . . Yes I said hair, you see Bayonetta is no ordinary lass she has incredibly long black hair, so long in fact that it forms the black cat-suit that she wears whilst out dispatching angels.
Killing angels and their ilk rewards you with items, most notably their halos, which bear a striking resemblance to the gold rings from the Sonic series, these little touches and nods to other games are prevalent throughout the title and go to show that the developers haven't forgotten their roots, as an example one of the pieces of "angelic music" that you collect upon beating a boss is the same piece Rebecca Chambers played on the piano in the first Resident Evil title. (That would be "The Moonlight Sonata" for those of you that are curious.)
So we have fast, frantic gameplay, what else? Well there are a lot of different moves that can be practiced on the loading screens that can be used in the game to add flourish to your attacks, however eventually you will find the one or two combos that work for you and will most likely stick to them, there is very little reason to learn them all as most players will get by just by button mashing.
When you get to the large boss characters (who get bigger and bigger as you progress) the usual button mash approach works well until such time as the boss is ready to die. At this point Bayonetta can use a "climax" attack which involves using her hair and transforming it into something big and nasty.
This usually means that the sexy witch loses her clothing
and plunges her hair into a portal, it then reappears as something big and ugly and with the use of a QTE, kills off said boss.
It should be pointed out that the hair attacks aren't just for bosses, with enough practice on the combos, the player can unleash a hair attack during the standard levels although thankfully this time without the QTE that goes along with it.
When not using her hair, Bayonetta uses her standard guns, much like DMC the guns never run out of ammo so you're never caught short by a reloading time. The guns on their own are fairly weak so it's a case of using combos and only using the guns for crowd control.
Later stages see you upgrading from pistols to shotguns and also gaining the use of a sword, the difference here is that the weapons can be switched on the fly so where you start a combo with the sword, you end it with the guns either in her hands or those attached to the heels of her shoes.
If it sounds a bit strange, that's because it is, but for some reason it works, combos can flow seamlessly from one to the next, at any point the player can break out of a combo to dodge an attack which then puts the player in "Witch Time", Witch Time slows down the enemies on screen and allows the player to really tear into their opponents with no real concern for their own health. While Witch Time doesn't last very long, it can be activated at any time with a well timed dodge, so those players who have the patience can really push the combo system to its limits.
But it's not all punching, kicking, running and gunning there are some puzzles in the game too, generally they involve the manipulation of time in some way and after the first couple of times, the puzzles are no longer challenging but add a welcome stop gap in the combat.
There have been reports of immense slowdown on the PS3 version of the game when compared to the 360 if I'm honest I haven't really encountered this in any great detail and the one time it did happen it was only for a few seconds and was hardly noticeable, short of running both versions side by side to compare, most PS3 owners won't notice any issues with the graphics and will still be able to enjoy the title to the full.
The Cutscenes for the game are well put together and involve either full motion or frozen images linked together by a film reel effect, again these work well and some of them are amazing.
One thing I will say on a comparison however is that on the PS3 version there is a definite loss of colour, almost like a white haze has been placed over the game, the 360 version is very bright and flashy whereas the PS3 version looks a little drab, however in my opinion this actually looks better on the PS3 as the darker palette helps to set an atmosphere for the game.
The soundtrack to Bayonetta is very upbeat and all seemingly inspired by the J-pop phenomenon, the first stages see you beating up angels to a J-pop version of "Fly me to the Moon" it works well with the game and the upbeat tempo of the music suits the combo system accordingly, voice acting is . . . Ok.
Female characters sound pretty good and the title character has a very plummy English accent (which really helps with the sexual innuendo that she spouts) but some of the others sound a little off, with voice acting seeming to come straight from the first Resident Evil game, long pauses between sentences, and emotion used where none was necessary and so on.
But this again doesn't detract from the game, if anything it adds to it, Bayonetta, while being a good game on its own does like to make these little nods to other titles and to basically play around, you can almost feel as if the developers were just putting the game together for a bit of a laugh and then thought what the hell let's put it on the shelves.
The control system is what you'd expect you have a button to punch, kick, shoot, jump, dodge, target and taunt.
One control stick controls movement while the other controls a (very slow) camera and this is actually one of my only problems with the game, the camera doesn't sweep around fast enough to allow you to see everything that's happening when you need to, but this is a minor niggle and not something that really pushes the player away.
Regarding some of the controls, taunting usually involves ol' Witchy having a bit of a boogie on screen, while it may not sound like much, doing this increases the amount of halos earnt from kills, those halos are then used to upgrade weapons, learn new combos, buy items etc etc (another DMC reference should go here but I can't bring myself to do it.)
As already stated the combat is very fluid and looks impressive, this is a good thing as you will be doing a LOT of it, the ability to mix and match weapons and then flick between them in mid fight is a nice addition and can really help the player.
However, as mentioned above after you pick up a few of the combos you'll most likely stick to them which means a lot of the time you're seeing the same animation over and over again, again while not a title-killer it does mean that it can get very repeatative.
There are a lot of trophies on offer for the player, some of which will take some real work, others you may find you collect by sheer accident.
For those counting there are a total of 37 Bronze, 10 silver, 2 gold and of course one platinum.
Bayonetta is a very well polished game that's very well paced and great fun to get to grips with, if however like myself, you were never really a member of the Dante fan club, then this title could get very boring very quickly.
For those of you Dante fans however, if you're willing to spend a little extra there is also the special edition version of Bayonetta available, this includes the (now almost standard) art book and soundtrack CD, there are also versions out there that come with a model of "The Scarborough Fair" the nice pink gun that Bayonetta uses throughout the game. While I didn't splash out for that version the gun itself looks like a cross between a My Little Pony and a Hair Dryer, not really the sort of thing i'd want gracing the mantle-piece.
In conclusion, yes Bayonetta is very much like Devil May Cry, however it doesn't take itself seriously and as a result it shines out as a decent title in its own right, there was a little too much influence from DMC for my liking but still an enjoyable title nonetheless.
Fluid animations, well paced and a great soundtrack all work well for this title, can get a little samey later on.