During my day at Nintendo’s post E3 event at Covent Garden I was lucky enough to try out Bayonetta 2, the highly anticipated sequel to Platinum Games 2009 under appreciated gem Bayonetta. I was already excited about this game, and after the Nintendo Direct trailer earlier this month I was positively giddy. Have Platinum Games found a loving new home for the seductive sorceress? Yes. Yes they have.
• Developer: Platinum Games
• Publisher: Nintendo
• Reviewed on: Wii U
• Release Date: 2014
It’d be impossible to talk about Bayonetta 2 without first mentioning the titular heroine’s make over. As seen in the Nintendo Direct E3 video, Bayonetta is now sporting short hair and a new wardrobe, which is also her hair, so really it’s new hair all round. The new look has been the subject of fierce debate online since its reveal earlier this month with fans split down the middle. Now I’m a sucker for women with short hair, so I love it, and that’s all I have to say on the matter.
As I started the demo I was asked which control set-up I’d like to use, Normal or Touch. The incredibly helpful Nintendo rep informed me that the Touch option is there to make the game more accessible to new players. It’s a nice touch, but it had me worried that maybe the sequel was going to be slightly toned down to appeal to a larger audience. Thankfully, that worry was short lived.
The demo begins with Bayonetta on the back of a fighter jet as it flies at top speed through a city, pursued by a huge serpentine creature. Let that sentence sink in for a moment. The whole scene makes the original Bayonetta‘s falling clock tower opening level seem tame by comparison. The combat is as tight as ever, and with the ability to switch between the default guns and dual swords at the push of a button cutting through hordes of angelic centaurs (a new enemy on offer here) was incredibly visceral and extremely satisfying.
With attacks mapped to the X and A buttons, and B being used for jump, the controls will feel instantly familiar to fans of the original, even on the Wii U GamePad, and as with the first game performing a well timed dodge slows down time for a few seconds with the welcome return of Witch Time. So far so familiar, but this old witch has a few more tricks up her sleeve.
By successfully attacking enemies or by taking damage Bayonetta can unleash the Umbran Climax, a new ability making its debut to the series that allows her to perform devastating attacks for a short period in a style similar to the Devil Trigger ability from the Devil May Cry series. Torture Attacks are back with a vengeance and use the same magic meter to perform, bringing a new level of strategy to battles as you decide between unleashing a little Torture or holding out for an Umbran Climax (ooh er).
After a short cinematic (complete with quick time event) Jeanne, Bayonetta’s white haired rival from the the first game is reintroduced, complete with a fetching make over of her own. After a cheeky wink from our duo, the serpent creature from earlier bursts through a building in a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place in Avengers Assemble, and it’s back to the action.
A short while later Bayonetta’s jet is destroyed, and after a short QTE platforming section the action moves to a fast moving train and the first boss is introduced – an angelic abomination named Belief. The fight is insanely cinematic, with swooping dynamic camera angles and even help from a jet, I needed utilise every trick I’d learnt up until now to win.
After a quick beat down the battle moves from the train to the tracks as Jeanne joins Bayonetta for the second half of the encounter. The battle is finished in much the same way as they are in the original – after the boss has been sufficiently kicked around a button prompt to Climax appears on screen. Doing so causes Bayonetta to unravel her hair clothes and summon a huge demon into the world to finish of her enemy once and for all with a super stylish finishing move.
After dealing with Belief, the demon breaks free from its restraints and forces its way out of the portal it was summoned through and into the world. After a brief cinemtaic which I won’t go into detail about — but I assure you it’s awesome and sets up what could be a pretty heavy plot point — Bayonetta grows a pair of feathered wings and takes to the sky to battle the demon, now revealed to be named Gomorrah, as it scales a skyscraper. The battle is absolutely epic and extremely intense. The demo ends with the Nintendo Direct trailer after Gomorrah has been defeated.
With Nintendo’s reputation for family friendly games I have to admit I was sceptical about the partnership Platinum Games made with them, but it appears that they have stayed true to their claim of wanting to publish more games that appeal to the ‘hardcore’ on the Wii U, and for the most part they seem to have left Platinum Games to their own devices. I was already excited about Bayonetta 2, and spending this hands on time with it has made me even more so. If this demo is any indication of the finished game, Platinum Games haven’t only matched the original for quality, they have surpassed it.