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'Bayonetta 2' Review: Witch Way Is Up?

13/10/2014 14:16 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 14:59 BST

Bayonetta 2 is out for Nintendo's Wii U on 24th October 2014.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Insane action-packed gameplay
  • Full, inexplicable single-player campaign
  • Co-op mode and 'arena' single-player missions
  • Lots of unlockables

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VERDICT:

Once you've accepted that Bayonetta 2 is essentially inexplicable, and plays like an MTV video DJ attempting to navigate his way home from Soho in 1991 who - while coked up to his eyeballs - is being attacked by tiny ninjas only he can see, and also everyone is almost - but not quite - totally naked and you're standing on top of a fighter jet, and there's a giant dinosaur monster thing, and it's spinning, spinning, spinning and now it's eaten you and HIYAH take that hair demon! - it becomes pretty enjoyable.

You have to accept all of that first though. Because while this is ostensibly an action-fighting game dedicated to the art of the c-c-combo, the well-timed bullet-stiletto kick and the risible cut scene, it doesn't do much to bring new players into the fold easy. (Which is odd, because it's on the Wii U, which is hovering on the edge of oblivion, but let's ignore that because something something Nintendo needs a hit and by the sounds of it, they paid through the nose for it, even if the original wasn't really a hit anyway.)

Bayonetta is a ridiculously proportioned, frequently naked, presumably human witch who fights and summons demons made occasionally of her hair. Your job is to control this totally bananas character through a 3D world of endless enemies, non-stop action and set-pieces and reach the last cut-scene, which you should never watch, to sum up a story which you should never attempt to explain.

The fighting is simple but has tactical depth, and you'll have to make assessments of battlefield priorities and enemies to dispatch first in order to make it through. You can also use 'Witch Time' to send the battle into slow mo and give you some breathing (and thinking) room.

There's lots on offer to sink your bizarrely elongated teeth into, too, with collectible weapons which can be held or strapped to the legs, along with creatively hideous special moves. It looks bright and colourful, and while it doesn't retain the same initial mania of the intro battle it's spectacular, in a previous-gen sort of way. Alas this is yet another Wii U game that essentially ignores the Gamepad, using it only for a touchscreen control scheme and Off-TV play, but there are some neat Nintendo references thrown into the mix and a decent Co-Op mode.

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As ever with this sort of game - and Bayonetta in particular - the trick is having the patience, skill and mindset to see through the panic and confusion to the depth and precision underneath. And it is there - this is an extremely well balanced and tuned game - if you choose to look for it. The learning curve is steep, and the contextual filter you'll need to parse its more batsh*t moments is hefty. Also, you'll have to decide if the combination of overt, but cartoony nudity and schoolboy fantasies with which Bayonetta made its name, and returns in full force here, is for you - especially if you're playing it in a room with other humans. BUT if you're able to follow it down the rabbit hole this is an assured action brawler that will probably be regarded as a classic by the same people who thought the original was a classic. I didn't, and I don't, but that's me: I didn't have an MTV show in the 90s and I've never fought a monster on a jet fighter, so what do I know?

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