Bayonetta - PS3 - Preview 2

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

The hack-n-slash action genre has two leaders: Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden. These games are so good that most people don’t even realize that they are playing a hack-n-slash game. This fall, Sega and Platinum Games (the studio from Shinji Mikami, Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya; Kamiya was the director of the original DMC) will release a game that could dethrone those two classics: Bayonetta.

How is this possible? How could this game pull it off when so many have attempted DMC-crushing greatness only to fall flat on their faces? The answer lies within Bayonetta’s speed, size and overall craziness. Every character has a weird or quirky edge. Monsters aren’t limited to the grotesque beasts of Ninja Gaiden, but like that game and DMC, you can expect to see plenty of building-sized enemies that will literally tear up the environment. This might not be too impressive – or even worth mentioning – had the graphics mirrored the games it’s trying to one-up. But while the camera angles and world structure is very familiar, the animations and art designs belong entirely to Bayonetta.

But while you could marvel at the visuals for hours, the gameplay is what really carries this game to greatness. First of all, Bayonetta may very well be the most seamless action game ever made. The controls are just perfect; she can double-jump as intuitively as Mario, unleash combos as effectively as Dante, and evade attacks more skillfully than anyone from The Matrix trilogy.

Bayonetta

Speaking of skills, Bayonetta’s evasion move allows her to get the upper hand over her enemies in a very cool way. If you tap the left trigger at just the right moment, it’ll create a slow-motion effect called Witch Time. During this, players can attack without having to worry about retaliation. Yes, other games have tried similar moves, but it’s the way Bayonetta implements this feature that makes it so great. Within seconds of picking up the controller, everything felt very natural.

As all of this was going on, the camera never failed. The frame rate never dropped, the graphics never lost their beauty… It was almost hard to believe this game was designed for the current generation. And it only gets better with time: as you progress through the game, enormous boss creatures/monsters will attack. Some will literally tear up the environment.

Not surprisingly, our lead heroine (who shares the game’s title) carries multiple guns and offers an abundance of weapons-based on hand-to-hand attacks. Many of them can be linked and turned into combos, which is definitely an experience DMC fans are used to. The attacks themselves, however, are both exquisite and jaw-dropping. You’ve probably never seen a giant high heel-wearing foot slam down on an enemy before. But you will in Bayonetta.

Due in the fourth quarter, Bayonetta is a stunning mix of intense combat and breathtaking graphics. The original (and often unusual) character designs make the game that much more interesting. Look for this one to become a classic before the end of the year.

 

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