Monday, March 19, 2018

Bayonetta 2 Review

Bayonetta 2 is the sequel to Platinum Games’ 2009 “Non-stop Climax Action” game, Bayonetta. Bayonetta 2 was originally in development for the PS3 and 360, but the publisher, Sega, cancelled it before it was completed. Nintendo later revived the project with their funding, and it was finally released in 2014 for the Wii U. It is now on the Nintendo Switch with amiibo support and a few graphical improvements.

Bayonetta 2 is set shortly after the first game, and is a sequel, but it also sets up the events of the first game. It starts off with Bayonetta on a quest to save her Umbran sister, Jeanne, from Hell, but turns into a pseudo prequel, explaining a bunch of stuff about Balder, the Witch Hunts, and Aesir by the end. It’s interesting stuff, if you’re a fan of the world of Bayonetta, but the storytelling is just as bad as in the first game. It always feels like they’re trying really hard to make the story more confusing and mysterious than it actually is. It’s not like anyone is playing for the story, though. We’re here for the Non-stop Climax Action!

Where Bayonetta 2 really shines is in the combat. The original Bayonetta set a new bar for over the top stylish action, with smoother combat flow and crazier moves than anything in the Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden games. Bayonetta 2 doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it does improve on the original by refining and streamlining the combat. Bayonetta 2 makes it easier to keep your combos going, gives you more options for launching opponents into the air, and makes it easier to stay in the air. Everything feels incredibly smooth, and I always feel like I have a move that does what I need to do, or gets me where I want to go in the middle of a fight. They also finally put the lock-on button on the left trigger, which makes it much easier on my hands.

The main Story mode has you going through the city of Noatum on your way to the mountain of Fimbulventr, where the gates of Hell are. These are the real gates of Hell, and not Rodin’s bar. Why Rodin doesn’t just let you use the portal he uses when he goes to turn an LP into a weapon, I don’t know. Rodin is even waiting for you in Hell when you get there. As you make your way through the levels, you’ll fight hordes of Angels and Demons, which drop Halos when you kill them, which you can use to buy new moves, accessories, costumes, recovery items, and alternate versions of the weapons, which you can put on your feet.

You might not think of exploration when you think of Bayonetta, but doing so is encouraged and rewarded. Every level is full of collectables, treasure chests, and battles which you might miss if you're not exploring. You can also find portals to the fire realm of Muspelheim, where you can take on combat challenges in an arena. Some of these are timed battles, and others have specific rules, like kill everyone without dropping your combo, or kill everyone without touching the ground. After finishing a challenge, you’ll be rewarded with an item, like a Witch Heart, which will increase your max health.

The other gameplay mode in the game is Tag Climax mode, which lets you play co-op in monster filled arenas, like the ones in the story mode, and against standalone bosses. You can play with someone locally on another system (2 copies required), online, or with the CPU. This mode is pretty fun, and you can unlock some stuff while playing it. There doesn't seem to be a lot of people playing it online, though.

I think the biggest change to the game from the Wii U version is the addition of amiibo support. You can scan up to 32 amiibos per day, and they give you halos, items, and costumes. I only have 29 amiibos, but even with that, I was able to buy all the moves, a weapon alt, and an accessory right after unlocking Rodin’s store. I also unlocked a bunch of costumes in the process. All the Nintendo costumes from the Wii U versions are unlockable by just scanning an amiibo. There's a Link costume, Samus costume, Daisy and Peach costumes, and a Fox costume, which will turn jets into Arwings in one stage. You can also unlock all this stuff through regular play, but amiibos cut out a lot of the grind. Buying all the moves right away does make the game easier, but I think the game is much more fun when you have all the moves. If you have amiibos, I say use them.

The graphics look pretty much the same as they did on Wii U, but the framerate is much better. It still runs at 720p, and the framerate is still not locked at 60, but it is much better than in the Wii U version. I think the design of new characters, like Loki and Aesir, are kind of lame in comparison to the designs of the older characters, but the Noatum and Inferno designs are just as good as the environment designs in the first game. Loki looks like a white haired version of Riley from Boondocks, if you ask me.

Bayonetta 2’s soundtrack is full of great tunes, including new ones and returning ones from the first game, but they're all overshadowed by the 2 main themes. Sometimes it feels like every other song is “Tomorrow is Mine” or “Moon River”. Tomorrow is Mine has a few versions, and plays during a lot of the battles. It's the “Bayonetta is about to kick some ass” song. Moon River is a cover of the Andy Williams song, which like “Fly Me to the Moon” from Bayonetta 1, was also covered by Frank Sinatra, and is played all over the game.

Bayonetta 2 doesn't have the impact that the first game had, but it is still a great game. I think it's a better game than the first one, but it is more of the same. It feels very polished, it runs better than ever, and amiibo support cuts out a lot of the grind to get all the moves and costumes, if you choose to use them. My only real complaint is that the game feels shorter than the first. I wish it had a few more stages and bosses, because the stages get really short towards the end of the game, and fighting some of the bosses so many times had me thinking, “This guy again?”.