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Review: Bayonetta

If you’re a fan of acrobatic mayhem, Bayonetta may be the game for you.

If you’re a fan of a hot female protagonist kicking butt, Bayonetta might be your game.

If you’re a fan of a storyline that is byzantine and completely outlandish, Bayonetta might be your game.

Bayonetta tells the story of a witch who has been locked in a coffin at the bottom of a lake. She is freed, but has amnesia and begins her quest to find out who she is and where she belongs.

Beyond that, the storyline is baffling. I made a decision early on to abandon any effort to follow it and instead let it wash over me like a summer wave.

There are witches and sages and a little girl and a journalist in pursuit of the truth. There’s a bar called the Gates of Hell where advice and weapons are dispensed. There’s a mysterious conglomerate and a secret city and three planes of existence. And, of course, there’s that hair suit that can turn into vengeful beasts. Oh, and lollipops.

It’s all so confusing.

But the game is about action, with the bespeckled, stacked Bayonetta leading the way. You see, as a witch she has some powerful enemies who send angels to kill her. These are not your typical angels. They are armed and intent on killing.

Utilizing guns and swords and other weapons, Bayonetta brings the pain. As she beats an opponent and he is near death, she can activate “torture attacks,” finishing moves that kill with style. There’s the iron maiden and the vise crush and even a giant spiked wheel.

Successfully dodging an attack activates “witch time,” a slowdown in time that allows quicker movements and precision attacks.

Furthermore, as a boss nears defeat, Bayonetta can summon “wicked weave” moves that cause her hair to leave her body and form into demonic entities that complete the job. Curiously, her hair also doubles as her skin-tight bodysuit.

As she eliminates them, she earns “halos” – currency that can be used to buy supplies and upgrades – and items that can be combined into rejuvenating lollipops.

She has tricked-out guns – including firearms that are welded to her high heels. The weapons are upgradable and new ones become available as she earns her “halos.”

Besides the mano-a-mano fighting that make up the bulk of the action, Bayonetta also veers into arcade-style gaming.

First and foremost is “Angel Attack,” a mini-game that is played between chapters. Equipped with a limited number of bullets, you shoot flying angels as they hover – a latter-day Duck Hunt. The more points earned, the better the items available for purchase.

Then there are levels that play much like older arcade games, including one that was very reminiscent of a ground-level version of Galaga.

These diversions keep the gameplay fresh.

Health and energy levels are replenished by consuming lollipops, which can be purchased or concocted using items found during battles.

Much of the rest of the story is played out in sometimes lengthy cutscenes, with Bayonetta and enemy bosses discussing her progress and the ultimate destruction of the world. But these respites are always followed by lots of angel squashing and level exploring.

Bayonetta was entertaining from start to finish, a fun romp through the world of witches and a chance to unleash your inner kickass, smartass temptress.

Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Rating: Mature

Manufacturer: Sega

Score: 8.5 “tortuous” chilies


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